by Rosie Adle
The back-to-school season is not quite recognized as a national holiday (at least, not one for which school could be canceled!), but it is nevertheless an exciting time. Crayons are pointy rather than nubby, lunch box interiors smell fresh rather than wretched and those jumbo pink erasers are still pristine and sharp edged, anticipating the gray and latter days to come (but totally not there yet).
The backpacks are loaded; the school clothes are laid out. The kids are ready — but are you? If you have a student in your life, ask yourself these three questions to assess your outlook on school and learning.
What is the most important thing for your student to be learning?
The most important thing for anyone to be learning is the Word of God.
When all other lines of study fade (to say nothing of the Crayola markers), God’s Word is the only thing that endures.
Christian schools — especially Lutheran schools — are great, and most have excellent religion curricula that parents should be aware of and involved in. Homeschools are also great, and they usually emphasize the study of Scripture when the homeschoolers are believers.
But what about families who attend schools where the faith is not taught? Let’s keep it simple here: The answer to Question #1 is still the answer to Question #1.
Years ago a friend said she felt bad that her kids were going to a public school rather than a Lutheran school. Friend, we hear you, but don’t forget this: Whatever can be taught in a Lutheran school can also be taught in a Lutheran home. It may take day in, day out diligence, but it can be done.
God’s Word and its explanation by way of Luther’s Small Catechism need to be echoing in every Lutheran home. Beyond that, there are church and Sunday school for all, and Christian schools for some.
Who is a student’s primary teacher?
The parents are a child’s primary teachers.
This one’s a no-brainer, right? I bet you didn’t even need to look it up!
For those who are homeschooling their children, this statement goes without saying. Yet even when families enlist outside help with their children’s education, Mom and Dad are still principally (like a principal, see?) responsible for their learning and upbringing. It is NOT COOL to say on the first day of school, “I’m so glad I can hand this kid off to the teacher. She’s his problem now!” Hash tag fail, guys! Thinking like that places far too much responsibility on the teacher and far too little on the parents.
The Lord entrusts the godly upbringing of children to parents. Teachers can serve as derivative authorities to aid in the parents’ very important work of educating their children, but ultimate responsibility still lies with the parents. This is critical to understand for the sake of the paid educators and the families involved.
How can you better relate to the students in your life?
Remember that you are a student as well.
Milk and cookies with open-ended questions at the end of a school day are awesome, but simply regarding yourself as a student can make relating even easier yet! Narrowly defined, a student is a human being enrolled in an educational institution. But broadly speaking, we are all students when we embrace a lifetime of learning. Regardless of your age, occupation or vocation, keep studying to grow in those spaces. Go at your God-given roles like a boss student. Read good books and articles, attend conferences, watch documentaries, listen to mind-enriching radio programs or podcasts or take a class at a local junior college. Show your student that you’re right there with him, and if he sees you struggling to master a new concept — all the better!
And remember as you go what is most important for everyone (including you) to be learning. Circle back to Question #1, and count yourself in. Check into a church service AND Bible class on Sunday mornings. You’ll be taught the love of Christ from someone who’s learned a lot, not just for his own sake, but also for yours. While you’re there, ask your pastor for the name of a resource or two (in addition to the Bible) to strengthen your faith throughout the week.
This Q&A session is now dismissed. It’s time to hit the books, everybody! But then again, it always is. September is just a cute time to pair them with an apple.
Deaconess Rosie Adle is an online instructor for the distance deaconess program of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. She’s learning as she goes.