Educational Goals - as part of your Homeschool Goals

Step One: The Goals

How important are Educational Goals?

When you begin a project, you have the end product in mind. You cut pattern pieces out of material, because you know they will be sewn together to make a lovely garment. You buy good quality computer components, and connect them together inside a case, because you know, when it is completed, you will have a computer with the best specifications for the job you will require it to do.

I am not using this illustration to pretend that Education is just a bunch of good ideas all put together, give it a mix and voila- you have your end product! No way! But, I am saying that this magnanimous task of educating our children needs attention. You wouldn’t be here reading this, if you didn’t agree. Well, if we spend some time cutting out pattern pieces, or buying computer parts, knowing our end product, how much more should we come to the educational process with clear educational goals in mind? We need to know what we are aiming at…. 

What the end product should be?....

What are our educational goals?

Educational Goals

R.C.Sproul Jr.,in his book, “When you Rise Up”, answers the question, “What is the goal of Education?”

In his first chapter, he maintains that education is a process of discipleship in which our goal is to raise God-glorifying children, who walk in truth, abide in truth, live out dominion over His creation, who fear God and obey whatever He commands (Eccl 12:13). As parents, our job is to pass on the truths of God as described so beautifully in Psalm 78:

Psalm 78 on Education

Psalm 78
A maskil of Asaph.

1 O my people, hear my teaching; 
listen to the words of my mouth. 
2 I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old-
3 what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us. 
4 We will not hide them from their children; 
we will tell the next generation 
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, 
his power, and the wonders he has done. 
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob 
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers 
to teach their children, 
6 so the next generation would know them, 
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children. 
7 Then they would put their trust in God 
and would not forget his deeds 
but would keep his commands.

Thoughts by R.C. Sproul on Education

R.C.Sproul also maintains, that, "“First, we want our children to embrace the work of Christ. Second, we want them to do the work of Christ, to pursue his kingdom."” (p20) He also says, in keeping with Psalm 78, “"We must with sincerity and zeal teach our children to teach their children to teach their children to teach their children to teach their children…to keep going until the King’s return."” (p26) and further on, "… “It is generation after generation after generation of building the kingdom, growing to be more like Christ, to love him, to imitate him, to know him aright.”"

R.C.Sproul has written an excellent book on the covenantal approach to homeschooling and through the book answers other questions like: “Who should teach our children? What should they be taught?” If you are interested in putting forth a solid foundation for Christian education, I highly recommend this book. This will be an asset on your bookshelf for you and your children.

Quotes taken from When You Rise Up A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C.Sproul Jnr, P&R Publishing Company, New Jersey,2004

Noah Webster's Definition of Education

Let’s also look at how Noah Webster, defines Education.

EDUCA''TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends 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.

One way to write educational goals

Using this dictionary definition from Noah Webster and Biblical understanding, I have coined some educational goals:

Religious Instruction (to be instructed in the Lord) is the most important educational goal and is therefore the foundation on which all other instruction takes place.

The Goals:

1. To Lay a Biblical Foundation for our very existence.

by instruction and teaching of Biblical principles. The Scriptures give us the correct way to view the world, and view the way in which God wants us to live in His world.- a Biblical Worldview

Psalm 119: 97-104

Prov 3:19.20

2. To teach a life of service and obedience

to their Maker out of thankfulness and to develop a living relationship with the Lord. We are to be set apart for God. We are to be different and to know what the Lord requires of us. We are to worship Him in all of life, be obedient and love Him personally.

John 14:15

1Peter 1:15.16

3. To Instruct children in the knowledge of their Creator and His creation.

To make known these things in Speech and in Word. To tell God’s truths (conversation and discussion) and to read of God’s truths in His Word and in His world. (in subject areas: Arts, Literature, History, Fine Arts, Languages, Science, Morals, Religion, Behaviour.)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

3. To teach discernment

to discern truth from error. Our children need to understand that God is sovereign over all events and over all disciplines of life and we need to enable the children to comprehend the truth of the Scriptures and how it applies to life. We need to teach them to understand that life is inter-related and all things are connected because all things are made and designed by God. All things have their source in God.

Acts 26:18

4. To develop good character traits

The Proverbs

5. To develop good habits and manners

develop perseverance, …..culmination in love..

1 Tim 1:5

6. To prepare them for their life's goal

–to be useful in the future as godly men and women in their differing roles; to be able to teach the next generation.

Ps 78

Prov 22:6

Titus 2:2-6

Aiming for Christian Maturity

Noel Weeks in his book, “The Christian School”, writes, "“There is a goal for which we aim. It is functioning Christian maturity. ....We would expect to find the following abilities in a mature adult: the ability to read, to understand what is read, and to communicate it to others; the ability to earn a living and provide for one’s family; a knowledge of the history of God’s people and of the struggle of the church against the world; some understanding of the whole world as it relates to missionary task of the church; the ability to instruct one’s own children in these things; some knowledge of the world God has made and appreciation of its wonder; some ability to provide for the physical need of food and clothing; such musical knowledge and /or skill as will facilitate the praise of God; appreciation of and, hopefully, some skill in reflecting the beauty of God’s creation in our own works. For a child with a particular gift or aim we might hope for much more. This is a minimal list." ”(p35-36)

Another goal he mentions is,“ "Our goal is a person who has internalized the law and standards of God. He is self-disciplined so that he can devote his energies and give his attention not to himself alone, but also to meeting the needs of others.”"(p37)

The above quotes have been taken from The Christian School An Introduction, Noel Weeks, The Banner of Truth Trust, Pennsylvania, 1988

Educational Goals - not just academics!

From this brief overview of Educational Goals as defined by Noah Webster, R.C.Sproul Jr., and Noel Weeks and in the light of the Scriptures, we can see that as we set about to educate our children, we need to encompass far more than academics. Academics can be seen as one avenue we use to teach the goals of raising God-glorifying children who live in obedience, develop in character and perseverance, pursue God’s kingdom, fulfil the creation mandate of having dominion over creation, grow in patience, discernment, and who understand that God is the foundation of all.

Where to from here?

It's time to get our hands dirty and our heads working. Let's really sort out what is important to your family and write out our educational goals!

Setting Family Educational Goals.

If you're not really certain that setting family educational goals is necessary, read Setting Educational Goals- is it really important? for my explanation of how setting educational goals will help you in the whole homeschooling process.

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