Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are You Teaching Your Children to Be Learners or Thinkers?

As homeschooling parents we all know that to teach your children to be lifetime learners is one of the most desirable traits and skills you can do for your children. But is your goal too shallow if all you teach them is to be a learner, to always learn but never to able to arrive at a conclusion? Could it be that being a thinker is a deeper and much more scriptural principle?

Today's school system is set up to teach learning and not thinking. It used to be when our grandparents went to school that the goals then were to teach thinking skills and their eighth grade graduating diploma gave them a much higher level of thinking than our twelve years of schooling does today. Perhaps the claim is that there is more information to impart now than there was several generations ago? Perhaps, but that may just be the point! Modern day schools with dialectic teaching and testing methods teach knowledge which is always going to be incomplete and full of gaps and not thinking and reasoning skills which is critical in bringing our children to maturity in discernment skills.

Furthermore to teach someone to think is to teach them the difference between right and wrong. To be able to reason the truth by principle is the deepest and most foundational education that we can give our children. They can learn what Mom or Dad might think about this or that but to reason and discern truth based on principle is the ultimate goal to leave as our Godly heritage.

Doesn't a thinker have to learn? Yes, but does a learner have to think? No. A learner is graded on how many facts and pieces of information he can parrot back usually on a test. By that definition a computer is an excellent learner but it cannot think! Does God want blind obedience or deliberate choice? Does He want our children to think and choose wisely or to just do as they are told without the reason or promise of a blessing? Let's not produce robots in the education of our children! Let's teach them to reason, even to reason with God himself. “Come now let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow!”

Learners know facts and yet thinking is discouraged. Thinkers deal in ideas and concepts and reasoning is the goal. To the learner the more facts the better but the thinker knows that the facts are important and they can be found when necessary.

Learners look at the effects; thinkers looks at the cause. Learners don't care why, things just happen and sees man as the focus of history. A thinker constantly asks why and understands the cause and effect principle. A thinker also views history providentially. A thinker is one who can apply thought processes to circumstances and is able to extract truth. The bottom line is a learner is paid for what they know. A thinker is paid for how they think, the basis of the entrepreneurial mind!

Teach your children to ask why, but don't tell them the answers. Teach them to search, to hypothesize and to reason the answers through the knowledge that they already have. The ability to craft a good question is a sign of intelligence and it is so important to surround yourselves with people who think and challenge your thinking. Of course, there is no higher call and better example you can set for those in your charge than for those thinking mentors to be your children's parents!

Knowledge is cautiously esteemed in the scriptures but we are implored to embrace wisdom. Wisdom cannot be taught; it must be reasoned and ultimately comes as a gift of God. Therefore, to be a truly accurate thinker is to be Biblically minded. A Biblical thinker is constantly comparing the ideas presented to him with the Word of God, to discern what is Truth and what is a lie. A Biblical thinker truly fears God over man which we know from Scripture is the beginning of wisdom! Let's teach our children to be wise through the practice of excellent thinking skills, and to lead their future families, this wayward culture and possibly our nation by being true Biblical thinkers!
Janet Langford

A true Biblical thinker knows when to give credit when credit is due. I cannot reason so well without the well thought out leadership of Dr Marlene McMillan who is offering an excellent entrepreneurial education class this August. Watch for further postings on her thought provoking classes for parents and teens.