The Purpose of Education
The primary purpose of education is to prepare man to fulfill his divine purposes. Since his created purpose is to bring glory to God and to have dominion over God’s creation, man needs to know all that he can about God and His creation. As a redeemed Christian, he also needs to be equipped to proclaim the gospel to the world. Webster’s (1828) definition of education includes four objectives of teaching–enlightening the understanding, correcting the temper, forming manners and habits, and equipping for useful service. These objectives clearly reflect the need to be prepared in order to fulfill man’s God-ordained purposes. To glorify God, man must have his knowledge and understanding of His creation enlightened. To accomplish this, his fallen nature needs to be corrected, and right manners and habits must be formed. To be God’s ambassadors to a fallen world, man must be equipped with the knowledge, desire, habits, and skills necessary to proclaim the gospel and defend his proclamation of it.
Noticeably, these purposes say nothing about traditional school subjects, such as mathematics, science, language, or social studies. This is because the Christian educator’s priorities go beyond the mundane knowledge of these subjects. All specific objectives for these types of subjects must fall under the umbrella goals of enlightening, correcting, forming, and equipping. To be sure, each of these subjects and several others are tools that can be used to help reach the goals of enlightenment, corrected tempers, well-formed habits, and useful service. As mathematics, language, social studies, and science are learned, understanding is enlightened with the truth. As the student accomplishes the necessary exercise of learning, tempers can be corrected and students can learn productive habits. The knowledge and skills gained help fit the student for usefulness as a Christian. Education’s purpose is to prepare a man to accomplish his divine purposes.