It’s to the joy of students and the dismay of many educators.
I did some of my coursework through distance education, and it was wonderful to “be educated” without disruption of other life activities. It’s helpful for those of us who cannot afford to leave work to be on a campus taking courses. It also opens up the ability to get a degree from a school that you might otherwise be unable attend.
Distance education also puts a great deal of responsibility on the student to learn for herself. While some educators are trying to make it more interactive, the acquiring and applying of information is largely dependent upon the student. Yes, it’s true—this responsibility also exists in a classroom. Yet, there’s something to the face-to-face relationship that discourages a student from moving into anonymity or creating an alternate educational reality.
From an educator’s perspective, distance education may only compound the problem that already exists in the classroom setting—life-on-life training. The beauty of the classroom interaction is having a conversation with someone who’s “been there” or, better yet, who is still “there” working in the field for which you are preparing. The only better training from an expert like this would be to go to work with him. Of course, there is little possibility of this reality in distance education even through video and pictures.
So what does this have to do with parenting?
Consider how we are to be training our children.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NIV)
According to Scripture, our primary focus of educating our children should be life-on-life training. We are called to impress (“sharpen”) God’s commands upon our children while we sit at home, go down the road together, get ready for bed, and rise for breakfast. We’re intended to spend life together. God knows this is the best possible training for our children.
But how much life do we spend together?
- Who trains our children in reading, writing and arithmetic?
- Who trains our children in physical education and team-building?
- Who trains our children in knowing Jesus and obeying His Word?
- Who trains our children in being men and women?
- Who trains our children in their purpose and mission in life?
The more you can answer those questions by another person or organization, the greater you increase the “distance” of your responsibility for the “education” of your children.
This is not to say that other people or organizations cannot assist us in the training of our children. Teachers, coaches, and pastors can and should assist as guides and mentors as we train our children. But their assistance should always come secondary to the primary training they receive from us. Any area in which we become secondary is a way in which we are abdicating our God-given role.
As parents, we need to carefully consider how we are following God’s plan of training our children. If our children are trained by everyone but us, then it should not come as a surprise when they grow up far removed from how we live and what we believe.
Our children will adopt the thinking and beliefs of those with whom they’ve spent their lives.
Taking up our responsibility will involve a “disruption of our life’s activities.” It necessitates our being “there” in the field of gospel-living to which God has called us. Choosing to be the primary trainers of our children will be neither convenient nor easy. But it honors God’s Word and is best for our children…and our children’s children.
Pray for one another that we might choose not to become just a distant voice in our children’s life education.
May we stand up and live our lives with them.