“Try a simple experiment:
Take a small child on your knee [or, if one is not available in your home, remember when your own child was that small].
Do not see him as something to prune, form, or mold.
This is an individual who thinks, acts, and feels.
He is a separate human being whole strength lies in who he is, not in who he will become.
If his choices made now and in the future are to be good ones, this person must understand reality and see the framework of truth. In the shorthand of language we call this “knowledge.”
The child is a person who needs to grow in knowledge.” For the Children’s Sake, p. 12
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I took the opportunity during our recent parent orientations to read this excerpt from chapter 2, “Children Are Born Persons,” from Susan Schaeffer Macauley’s classic text on education. I chose it because it so quickly sums up how a child’s education is shaped so much by how the adults in his or her life, parents and teachers, view him or her.
As Macauley reminds us, our students, your children, are not mere receptacles to be filled. They do not acquire value as they perform, achieve, or add some tangible value to our lives. In the words of Psalmist, “they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Their heritage as persons, creatures created in God’s image, is already present in the very beginning. That gift is so precious and miraculous but so often misinterpreted, ignored, or attacked that it is essential to remind ourselves of who children are and what we are to be doing with them.
That “knowledge” that the author mentions above is best understood as a whole-person understanding of reality. Not just book knowledge (although much of what we as children and adults will come out of living books). Nor just experiential knowledge (although that, too, is important). What we are after is a wise understanding and commitment to a view of reality grounded in the Person of Jesus Christ who created all things, sustains all things, and give meaning to all things.
Every subject in which your child engaged in at RMCA today had some connection to what it means to be a disciple. Every study, if understood properly, was another step in an understanding of how thoughts, words, and actions bear meaning. Every relationship was an opportunity to become more of the adult that each child has been called to be by our great and good Living God.
But, as Susan Macauley, Charlotte Mason, and the Scriptures themselves attest, each of us has a choice. What will be our next choice in treating a child with respect, both in his or her essential status as a person, a child of God, as well as the need to grow up in a full-bodied ‘knowledge’ of life? And how can we make that choice more consistently and faithfully together?
After a couple of decades in education and parenting, I believe that those two questions sum up all of the opportunities that we have for growth in this community this year. Let us commit to doing the next step and see how we can walk/run alongside others in this “race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).