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E = R3WCG

A good education equation needs elements that are often left out

E = R3WCG

(Photo by David Freeland)

E=mc2 is a simple equation compared to the mystery of what goes into good education. But I’ll take a shot at proposing an education equation.

(1) Start with the three Rs, reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic.

(2) Move quickly to the opening line of a great John Newton hymn repopularized by Jars of Clay: “Let us love and sing and wonder.” If children don’t develop a sense of wonder about this astounding, God-created world, they’ll miss a lifetime of excitement. Music, art, history, science, foreign languages, and more should all make school wonder-full.

Our new testing regime doesn’t leave much time for wonder, and educators pay attention to the W only if they answer accurately a basic question: Who are my students? Are they animals with above-average intelligence (compared to horses and caterpillars, but maybe not dolphins)? Are they low-grade computers with below-average memory and above-average weight (compared to a MacBook Air)? Or are they human beings created in the image of a God of wonder?

(3) Add a C for specifically Christian education, for only in Christ do all things hold together. If students don’t understand that God created us, they are likely to become practical atheists. If they don’t understand that God gives history meaning, they are likely to become nihilists. Schools cannot give kids faith in Christ—only God can—but they can help students recognize their need, yearn for meaning, and not be content with wasting their lives.

Please do take Christian education seriously: No other work is more important.

If teachers want to be educators rather than prison wardens, it’s vital for them to think Christianly about their students. If they see students as bucking broncos, they’ll think the job of schools is to break them. If they see students as fleshly computers, they’ll want to perform an information dump. But if they understand that students are God’s children and have souls that never die, they’ll understand that just teaching to the test fails the biggest tests.

(4) The G is for the four-letter word that more than any other determines educational and occupational success: grit. University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth developed a “grit scale” and found that undergraduates with determination were more likely to obtain high grades than those with higher SAT scores but less grit. The grittiest West Point students she tracked did better in cadet training than those who scored higher on traditional aptitude tests. 

Part of grit involves fighting the desire for immediate gratification, an impulse measurable at age 4 via the marshmallow test, which starts with a small child in a room with a marshmallow and an adult. The adult tells the child he’s leaving the room to run a short errand. During that time the child is free to eat the marshmallow—but if he waits until the adult comes back, he can then eat not only that marshmallow but a second one as well.

Children’s ability to wait for gratification varies enormously. When Stanford psychology professor Walter Mischel, inventor of the test, looked in on those 4-year-olds a decade later, he found the impatient eaters had “lower SAT scores, higher body mass indexes, problems with drugs and trouble paying attention. … The seconds of time preschool children were willing to delay for a preferred outcome predicted their cognitive and social competence and coping as adolescents.”

Another study showed self-discipline to be twice as important as IQ in predicting grades of eighth-grade students. One large study, which traced about 1,000 New Zealanders from childhood through age 32, similarly found that those with less childhood impulse-control were more likely to be alcoholics or drug abusers, overweight or unhealthy—and were more than three times as likely to have been convicted of a crime. So, schools along with teaching the three Rs, W, and C need to do all they can to develop G for grit.

So, that’s my formula: E=R3WCG three Rs times Wonder times Christian understanding times Grit. We need all of those elements: A Christian school that has chapel yet doesn’t encourage wonder and grit among its students is wasting money and lives. But don’t take school formulas too seriously: Kids are individuals and flexibility is important. Please do take Christian education seriously: No other work is more important. May God bless all those who make large sacrifices to bless other parents and children.

Email molasky@wng.org

Comments

  • MrsBebout
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

     SkyMeadow Fine Arts partners with home-school families, private schools and the local public school (E=R3), to provide our 63 3-18 yr old students with a creation-oriented art/nature-journaling program (W)  from a biblical perspective that glorifies rather than marginalizes God and the work of Christ (C). We also provide them with violins, violas and cellos (donated) to learn classical music, hymns and music appreciation from this same perspective. (W, C and G--the grit being needed for the rigorous discipline of practicing on and learning a stringed instrument). We do this in a tiny town in Marion County, Arkansas (county pop. 16,000) with generous support from the community and the oversight of our church. We're making it happen and are thankful to God for this small but important success.  Thanks for the great formula and the encouraging words. www.skymeadowfinearts.weebly.com

  • Buddy's picture
    Buddy
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    Right on Marvin.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    Captain Faris . . . really ??? education is about taking one persons "authority" ("knowledge") and "transferring to another" ??? You're kidding, right ? So all students can never surpass their teacher ??? Um, I don't think so. I thought education was in great deal done to teach students to think critically.Marvin Olasky has outlined a perfectly good philosophy for Christian education, and your sheepskin and bloviating about pounding knowledge into children is well, B.S.

  • Janice G's picture
    Janice G
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    Great thoughts on the value of Christian education and reasons to support it. Glad to see this in World. From our experience, which was enhanced by God's World News, you are absolutely correct!

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    I hate to tar my name by laughing incredulously at this article, but really...My degree is in education and I can verify that the Ed Faculty comes up with even more vacuous platitudes than this article, but are we (those who know what truth and learning really is) trying to compete with them for buzzwords? This isn't rocket science; a series of high level theories isn't going to build a solid educational system. Teaching is either a. people who know what they are talking about sharing that with children or b. facilitators presenting information from others (not present) who know what they are talking about. Both work, and option b. is why home-schooling is so successful. When I graduated I summarized education as "the transfer of authority from outside the student to inside". I defined authority as either "the ability to command obedience" or "the possession of knowledge, experience, insight and judgment (the Greek meanings of psyche)". Education has little to do with the former but everything to do with transferring authority, as knowledge, experience, insight and judgment, to students. Transferring from outside to inside. Where teachers lack such authority or qualifications, their kindness or love or pandering to childish acting out can't do a thing. Neither can the brute exercise of the other kind of authority, the ability to command obedience. If we want to help improve education we need to cull the herd of teachers. Until then, start homeschooling.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    regarding the grit study . . . uh, Grandma could have told you the conclusion of the matter, thus saving a lot of research money ! The marshmallow study is a good one, though.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    This is really, really good. But here's something to add: strength. Children and adults need physical strength. (Moral strength obviously comes with the C-Christian component [but only, of course, if done right]).I also think BUILD and FIX should be added to this list. We mostly teach our children to sit at a computer and to be quiet. They rarely learn about the material world. Yet the guy with a hammer and a saw still builds our world, and the guy who can fix things is highly sought after, in the workplace and in the neighborhood, not to mention the home.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:48 am

    From Webster's 1828 Dictionary (the first American dictionary, for which he worked 28 years, and learned the basics of 26 languages, so as to be as accurate as he could):EDUCATION - The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. educationcomprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.