THE LOVES OF LEARNING: Thoughts on Christian Education, Part I
THE LOVES OF LEARNING:
Thoughts on Christian Education
This article was published in Christian Educators Journal 51:1 (October 2011): 30-32.
Often a chance to look back on familiar territory from an unusual angle is the source of new insights. So it was for me when, on a recent mission trip to Africa to teach theology to untrained church leaders, I had the unexpected opportunity to speak in a couple of school assemblies. It prodded me to think anew about Christian education from the standpoint both of the student and the teacher.
There is a poster one sees in Kenya that proclaims, “Literacy for Improved Food Production!” I don’t doubt that improved food production is a worthy goal and that literacy can help us attain it, I told the students of St. Philip’s Secondary School in Kitale, Kenya. But there is so much more to reading than that! Reading makes available to us three things that are much harder to access without it: the Word of God, the world of ideas, and the world of imagination.
The Word of God, recorded in the Christian Bible, contains the personal revelation of the Creator of the Universe, including His wisdom, His commandments, His love, and His plan for the salvation and eternal fulfillment of His creatures. The world of ideas gives us the cumulative experience and thinking of the human race as it follows or rebels against the Word of God in its history, its science, its philosophy. If nothing more, it can keep us from spending our whole lives reinventing the wheel. The world of imagination shows us the creative stirrings of the human spirit, stimulating our own spirits to make creative applications of what we learn from Scripture, history, and science.
Any of these three worlds to which reading gives us access—Scripture, Ideas, Imagination—can expand the mind in such a way as to facilitate things yet undreamt of (including better food production). When we combine them together, their capacity to do so is increased exponentially. So pursue the adventure of reading with all your might, both in school and out of it! It was Newman’s Idea of a University recycled impromptu for an African context. And I don’t think it’s a bad exhortation for American students either.
Check out Dr. Williams’ books at Lantern Hollow Press: Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (2011) and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (2012). Order either for $15.00 plus shipping at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.