Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40 ESV). What will your children be like when they are fully trained? Will they be like Aristotle or John Dewey and his disciples? Or will they be like Jesus and His disciples? These are important questions to ask in an age of full-blown apostasy, where we see a tremendous revival in secular education even among homeschoolers and Christian schools. Our Lord discipled twelve men, and when they were fully trained the Jews in Jerusalem “perceived that they were uneducated, common men. . . And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” If we are to raise our children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:4), what does that look like?
1. Jesus did not teach His lessons in a classroom, but in the context of real life. He did not use a whiteboard, when he was with his disciples on the stormy seas. Too clumsy, of course, to lecture in boats. But He walked along with the disciples. He talked about and experienced relationships, controversies with the Jews, miracles, spiritual demonic forces, winds and waves, and all the rest. We call this the principle of life-integration. We do not want to teach our children a bare knowledge that puffs up, but rather a love that edifies. We want to teach them to be “doers” of the Word and not hearers only. Of course, then we must be good examples of this as we walk beside them in this discipleship.
2. Jesus taught His disciples faith. While His disciples were rowing hard, He was praying in the mountains. Then He walked across the waters and taught them to “remember the loaves.” God provides. He taught them to walk on water. He taught them not to be afraid of the winds and the waves. As you teach your children Rowing 101 or Algebra 201, are you teaching your children faith? Or do you teach them anxiety and how to stress out? Do you teach them to pray and to believe, in the math lessons? This is the essence of discipleship. It is not so much about the Algebra, as it is about faith.
3. Jesus taught His disciples humility and servanthood. He did not emphasize competition, public notoriety, and pride, which so characterize so much of sports and academics today. “Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” After Jesus humbled the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road, Paul says he did his ministry in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling; relying on the power of God instead of on human wisdom (1 Cor. 2:3-4). The Apostle Peter recommends preparation in rhetoric so that we can give “an answer to those who ask a reason for the hope that is in you,” but he says, do it in “meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). This is radically different than the method that Aristotle recommends in his famous “Rhetoric” and “Ethics” books.
4. Jesus taught His disciples about the Word of God. Your children’s curriculum should be the Bible, first and foremost. Their study of history should begin in the Book of Genesis. They should know every verse of the Book of Proverbs (and the present-day applications for the wisdom contained there). Their poetry should be the Book of Psalms. Their ethics, sociology, and social sciences should be the Law of God found in Genesis through Revelation. Their character and life should be defined by Jesus’s beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. . .”
As the world’s educational systems are badly broken down, let us go back to Jesus, and ask the simple question: how would He do it? The world has little for us to copy. Let us be sure that our children have been with Jesus. These are the essential components we encourage Christian families to bring into the education of their children. You will find more on these principles contained in Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child and Family Life.