November 9, 2011

Beyond the Classroom

It has been said, “Not all learning takes place in the classroom.” This statement could be true to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the matter you want to learn. Nevertheless, when we come to religious education or a transmission of biblical values, knowledge gained from personal experience can have a greater impact on religious life than knowledge gained from classroom instruction.
Religious education involves not only the transmission of theoretical concepts but also every aspect of life. In this sense, the transmission of values that takes place in daily life can cover a wide range of life’s facets—an experience different from that of memorizing a list of biblical values.
2011 1531 page30For instance, let’s examine trust in God. When my son, Gabriel, was 3 years old, he was afraid of lightning. One night he awoke me saying that he wanted to sleep in my bed because of an electrical storm. I said to him, “We will pray that Jesus sends a lot of angels to take care of you, OK?” Then calmly he replied, “OK, let’s pray.” He then went to his bed and fell asleep immediately.
This was a lesson about trusting in God that he will never forget. A person cannot learn this kind of lesson in a classroom.
We must look for God’s original intention regarding religious education. What did He say about the transmission of biblical values? In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 God says: “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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
These scriptures reveal at least two principles about religious education:

1. It’s primarily the parents’ duty.
2. It takes place at all times and in all places.

Religious instruction in Seventh-day Adventist schools as part of the spiritual and academic growth of our youth is vital. What a child learns about Jesus in the home environment, however, should be the first work of parents. A lack of Bible instruction and positive Christian role modeling there cannot be supplied by the school. Both entities need to work together in a caring, consistent manner to lead children into a personal relationship with Jesus and to develop a love for spending time in God’s Word.  
The aim of religious education is salvation. This involves every part of our lives and ultimately must be a personal experience. One could learn the whole Bible by heart, but if it does not change your life, the goal is not achieved.
God wants to write His commandments in our hearts. When this is the experience of godly parents and teachers, our children will likely experience this as well.
We are told that “the first consideration of the parents should be to work for the salvation of their children.”1 And also: “Parents are to watch the opening, receptive mind and make everything in the home life secondary to the positive duty enjoined upon them by God—to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”2
After all, what is more important than the salvation of our children?
1 Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, p. 549.
2 Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 183.

Marcos Blanco is editor in chief of the South American Spanish Publishing House in Argentina. This article was published November 10, 2011.