The Ultimate Goal of Education

Big title, huh? It's something I'm thinking about tonight, and I've realized what my goal is for my kids' education. And I thought I would share.

What is the point of education? Is it to elevate the man? Is it to learn a trade? Is it for our own enjoyment? I think not to any of those. We've all been around one of those elevated men. They are not cool. And we are not simply defined by our trade either. We are much more than a job. And then, our enjoyment. Well, yes, I do want our kids to enjoy their education, but I want it to be kind of like the enjoyment runners get from practicing for a marathon. The enjoyment is satisfaction in soreness. Because the soreness means we worked out enough to bring about some change.

Then, what is the point of education? I believe it's humbleness. I want my kids to be humble at the end of their schooling. Let me explain.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility. Proverbs 15:33

There comes a point in education when you've learned enough to realize you only know a little. Some people don't get to this point even with decades of schooling. Those are the people who have let their education elevate them, and they think of themselves so highly because they know so very much.

But there's a point right after that attitude, when you've learned just a little bit more, and the whole world opens up and you realize there is so very much more to learn. There is so much in the world to learn that it is impossible for any one human to actually know it all. I want to bring my kids to that point before they leave home. Because that is humbling.

I imagine education as filling up a water balloon. Kids start out self-absorbed, autonomous, with feelings, but pretty empty too. Education is pushing knowledge into their heads and slowly blowing up their heads until the knowledge forces them outside of themselves. But even with sight to see outside of themselves, it's still a blurry picture through a stretched out balloon, right? So I want to fill up my kids' balloons so much that they POP. That's when the self becomes less important. And the self understands it's littleness.

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:3

The modern school system is experimenting with elevating self through their self-esteem building classrooms. The end result is people who are everything to themselves. They don't have to do anything else because they are finished and perfect in themselves. (Except most of them are then miserable because they inately know they are not finished or perfect and therefore will never be. They need to hear the Gospel.)

But a truly educated person is never done! There is always something new to learn. There is never a feeling of stagnation, because if one trade isn't the right fit, they can try another one. There is never a feeling of self-righteousness because they are humble. A truly educated person is humble enough to appreciate any trade, even the "lowly" ones. Take a plumber for example. Plumbers get made fun of on TV and whatnot. But an educated kid appreciates that a plumber knows a lot of things we don't. Like (pardon my ignorance in terminology) how to angle pipes so that the water goes where it's supposed to. And the whole u-shaped pipes thing to keep water in between the drain and the sink so that smells don't come back up. Amazing. clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." I Peter 5:5

Paul compares the Christian life to a running race, and I think we should think of education in the same way. Yes, education can sometimes be hard, rigorous, and trying. But it should never hurt our relationships. It should stretch us, and maybe we'll be a little sore the next day. But only because we reached a goal and were exhilarated the day before.

Let's look at math as an example. (The one we all fear.) What if we made goals for our kids, like today you will understand what a fraction is! (Running goal: Today we will run 5 miles!) We look at those fractions (or miles) and think, 'there's no way!' But, maybe we work at it, and start with one step, one mile, one circle divided into two. We keep going, keep showing circles, and the sweat starts pouring. It's starting to hurt, and our legs are burning. We start thinking about quitting. But then, we go to the kitchen and start playing with the measuring cups and pouring water. And then we talk about pizza, and how we can divide the pizza evenly. And suddenly, we can keep going. And by the end of it, they understand that fractions are wholes broken into pieces. We made it all five miles!

(Just an aside so you don't think wrongly of me, I've never run five miles.)

The relationship is always more important than the education, and as teachers, we should think of ourselves as stretchers and coaches who are helping our kids to run the race well. Maybe even as the cheerleaders and co-runners. But definitely not drivers, running or riding behind to make them run on in fear. If we're running with them, we need to be a few steps ahead to lead them on.

The other way we become humble is by knowing God. That is the greatest education of all. To stand before this God of ours, Who is Infinite, Almighty, Perfect, and Holy, is to realize our great inadequacy. But also to realize His great Love. Our education can also bring us to that knowledge of Him. We can know without a shadow of a doubt, our kids will never be able to wag their fingers in His Face, but will gladly fall to their knees having practiced that stance before Him all their lives.

So now, naturally, the question is how can we bring our students, our children, to humility? It's a balancing act, isn't it? On the one hand, we don't want to break spirits. Hmm. What do you think?


  1. This is wonderful Jennifer!
    Without humility there is no hope -- no hope for knowledge, wisdom, or salvation!

    1. Yes, yes, yes! Thanks Alison! It's so true, it takes humility to accept that we need salvation, and knowledge, and wisdom. Our natural tendencies are to hope we are alright on our own, or worse yet, could save ourselves.