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Wisdom: The End of Education

By March 5, 2024March 20th, 2024No Comments

Mortimer Adler, in his book, Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind, says, “I have found it almost impossible… to understand liberal [classical] education except in terms of what its end is.” More than anything else, if we want to know how to talk about classical education, we should start with this simple, but important point. Adler is right.  It is why I make it so much of an emphasis in our publications. We must understand our why very clearly. If wisdom is not the purpose of the education most of us received and yet it is the essential purpose of a classical Christian education (CCE), we need to understand it more clearly.

Reason #1

Here are three reasons why wisdom is the purpose of a classical Christian education. The first reason is that Scripture explicitly instructs us to seek and acquire wisdom. Solomon tells his sons to seek wisdom “like silver” and “hidden treasures” so they will “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2). The Bible clearly states godly wisdom is the focus of educating young people – that we should teach them to seek it as the highest value, even above riches, power, and popularity.

Reason #2

Solomon tells us, “…the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Education is focused on the acquisition of knowledge and the contemplation of ideas. If our understanding does not begin with trust in God, we will become fools groping for truth on our own. Paul tells us that those who reject God, although claiming wisdom, become fools because they deny the only source of ultimate reality (Rom. 1). In CCE, teaching students that education is “faith seeking understanding,” and not vice versa, is the foundation for godly wisdom. If our students have a holy reverence and fear for God, most of the issues in life are oriented properly.

Reason #3

Wisdom has universal application for all of one’s life. Certain things we teach our students will fade in importance, relevance, and application. However, wisdom will never become irrelevant. It will provide them the most meaningful and important synthesis of knowledge, skill, discernment, and insight. It will equip them for a lifetime of navigating the inevitable complexity, beauty, and dilemmas of human existence. 

Finally, in Proverbs, Solomon tells us that, in all of our getting, get wisdom! There are many distractions embedded in the process of education. But, as the business consultant Simon Sinek once said, “It’s not just what or how you do things that matters; what matters more is that what and how you do things is consistent with your why.” Let’s make it our aim to teach for wisdom so our children will receive what they so desperately need to flourish.

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