Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Value of Learning

Today is the first day of the new term at Springfield College, my hopefully soon-to-be Alma Matter. Gearing up for school has put me in a thoughtful mindset and set me off on theme I plan on studying over the next few months: the role of learning and teaching in life – Christianity, school, hobbies, etc. I’m not sure where it will take me but I’m feeling philosophically inspired so let’s give it a try.

In my discussions with various educators and home-schoolers, I’ve realized that everyone has a different definition in their heads of “learning.” Dictionary.com defines it as:

  • To learn: To gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through experience or study. To fix in the mind or memory; memorize; i.e. learned the speech in a few hours. To acquire experience of or an ability or a skill.

We use the word “learn” in a wide variety of contexts, starting at a very early age. Some things we learn come naturally to children in healthy settings – walking, speaking, playing. Other things require effort for even the most intelligent people (I’ll never learn calculus). We learn a multitude of facts; we learn to communicate in various mediums. We even learn what it is we are thinking about something – and this can be some of the most surprising learning ever!

While the waters of learning are muddy, it is crystal clear to me that our Father God values it:

  • 8 Solomon answered God, "... 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
  • 11 God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." 2 Chron. 1:8-12

In addition, Proverbs is full of suggestion to seek Wisdom so that “you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.” (Proverbs 2:9). What does this mean for us? What does it mean for schooling children and pursuing a formal education? What is is that God wants us to learn about? When I ran a search on Biblegateway.com, I got 130 hits for "knowledge," 105 for "learn," well over 200 for "wisdom," and 350 (!) for "teach." My goal for this blog series is to study these passages and combine them with the conversations I've had, books I've read, and thoughts I've thought to discern the answers to my questions.

If anyone else has specific thoughts or questions, I'd love for you to join me in this journey of learning, about learning. Post a comment and I'll add your questions to my list to investigate over the coming months.

1 comment:

Sarah Jane said...

Wow, this is a huge and awesome topic to study. And incredibly important as we grow in our Christian walk. We cannot grow as Christians unless we continually learn what our Father wants us to do so this blog series will be fantastic!

Something I've wondered about learning is how we learn after our formal education is over with. Or, more specifically, how God wishes us to learn after we have become adults. There are so many options - classes, Bible studies, church, home extension groups, enrichment groups, clubs, etc. WHAT should we be learning and HOW should we be striving to learn that?

And now this is opening up an entire train of thought so I better stop and reflect on this more before trying to post more, or else everything will sound confused and whirlwindish (probably already does!) :)