Did you read that? “Knowledge is easy”! How? First, we have to understand the difference between knowledge and understanding. It is the difference between facts and wisdom. It is the difference between knowing historical data and understanding what history can teach us about the world. It is the difference between knowing how to do something and knowing the right thing to do.
We live in a culture that has elevated knowledge above skill and wisdom. Our schools teach for knowledge—worksheets, testing. They do not emphasize skill or morality. For me, even gaining knowledge took second place to a much more important goal: passing classes and graduating!
Many of us who are teaching our children at home are products of this educational system. Many of us have made the mistake of taking public school objectives and strategies home with us. So, how can we correct this perspective and the resulting strategies? Let me give you a couple ways:
1. Aim for more than knowledge.
Knowledge is important. But it is not the most important. Very rarely do we acquire knowledge for its own sake, just to know it. We acquire knowledge to accomplish a more practical goal. We have projects, hobbies, goals, jobs, repairs, and chores that require knowledge.
Of course, this is the answer to every child’s favorite question, “Why?” It seems that no matter what instructions or corrections I give my children, they always ask the same question: “Why?” I think “Because I said so” is an appropriate answer. However, it can’t be the only answer. At some point our children will have to understand the why of what they are learning. The goal of learning is related to understanding. When we know why we are learning something then we understand it and it is much easier to learn.
So, how do we identify the why of what we are teaching? If we are aiming for more than knowledge, then what are we aiming for? Here is the simplest, and most important place to start:
2. Prepare your children to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.
This must be the ultimate goal of all education because it is the ultimate goal of life. And what is God’s purpose for your children’s lives? Generally speaking, we all have the same purpose: to love God (Mark 12:30), love people (Mark 12:31), and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).
Paul specifically contrasts knowledge and love in 1 Cor 8 and 13:
"This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
If anyone imagines that he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."
(1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV)
"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
. . . but have not love, I am nothing."
(1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV)
Knowledge is a means to an end. The end is love. EVERYTHING we do (and everything we teach) ought to have this purpose.
You want to make knowledge easy (or at least easier) for your children? Then put it in a meaningful context. Place it in submission to our ultimate purpose in life. The real challenge of teaching our children should not be wrestling with them over math or history. The real challenge should be imparting to them wisdom, a biblical worldview, a love for God, and a commitment to his purpose for their lives.