Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Role of Education and Employment

I have just realized a categorical mistake I have been repetitively making every time I tell a young person if they don’t buckle down to their schooling they won’t get a good job. By stating this, I am equating the reason for education to obtaining a good job by which one can make a living.

I am reading a book by Dorothy Sayers in which she addresses the issue of our fallacious idea that the reason we work is to make money. Employees often speak of their rights without realizing their obligation to work for works sake and to do their work well. “The fallacy being,” Sayers writes, “that work is not the expression of man’s creative energy in the service of society, but only something he does in order to obtain money and leisure.”

Often times, people choose a career based on what will be the most profitable financially versus following the dream God has placed in their heart for their contribution to others. Thus the doctor is taking care of the sick because it is profitable to do so instead of out of his desire to bring healing to the suffering. The lawyer isn’t doing his job because he is committed to justice, but because it makes good money. The school teacher isn’t teaching because he loves equipping a generation, but because he can put up with the job to support his family.

Education should not be seen as a means to gainful employment, but a means to becoming equipped to contribute in a meaningful way to one’s society. Thus the modern focus on skill based education is way out of place for education was never meant to be equipping for employment.

I recently saw a 700 Club episode about the Logos School. The Logos School is a K-12 school that provides children with a classical education from the Christian worldview. It equips children in logic, rhetoric, Latin, history, ancient mythology, classical literature, science, mathematics etc. One local businessman was in opposition to it because he said it did not provide adequate training for life because there was no employment skill training. The principal told the man to just try hiring any one of his 12th grade students and see how well they do in his large corporation. The man took him up on the challenge and the student expediently acclimated himself to the job and excelled wonderfully. The man quickly hired many more Logos School graduates realizing that they had been taught how to learn in such a way that they were ready to face any employment challenge for they were dedicated to excellence and knew how to think for themselves.

Sayers writes, “If man’s fulfillment of his nature is to be found in the full expression of his divine creativeness, then we urgently need a Christian doctrine of work, which shall provide not only for proper conditions of employment, but also that the work shall be such as a man may do with his whole heart, and that he shall do it for the very work’s sake.”

We should work at what we love because God put that love for a certain role in society in our hearts. One of the ways you can tell if you are working at what He has given you to do is that it is what you would do if money were not an issue.

Also we should encourage education, not because of gainful employment, but because it is good for the person to be a well educated self-thinking individual. Even if we are not in formal education any longer we can always be learning and sharpening our thinking.


Mike said...

What a beautiful way of expressing this concept. Thank you for sharing that.

As a lifelong learner turned professor, I've often thought the same things. By turning our teachers and our institutions of learning into machines, we've removed the love of learning, which was the original intent of many of these great institutions.

I've told my own children for years, I'm not so much worried about the grades that you get at school, but rather are you learning to love learning. Is it fun, challenging, and interesting to you? If you master the learning process, and learn to love it, there isn't anything you can't learn.

Then just use that to enable you to carry out those things you are passionate about doing... MM

Karla said...

Thanks for your comment.

Lisa said...

My children have attended a Classical school modeled after Logos for the last four years, and I am a huge fan of Classical education. The children are taught in an environment that promotes critical thinking and a Biblical Worldview. My oldest just finished there and started a public high school, and is way ahead of his honors classes peers in his ability to think, reason, and grasp the material. I just hope he keeps that love of learning in the new environment.

Karla said...

That's awesome, Lisa! I don't have kids, but when I do I want them to have that kind of education. I just started getting the Logos catalog and am thinking about teaching myself some of the things I would like to know better by purchasing some of the curriculumn. I was homeschooled some growing up and went to Christian schools when not being homeschooled.
But the Logos school looks amazing.