Establishing Purpose
Kareem Elnahal, in his valedictory speech, touches on the heart of the problem with American public education and our culture as a whole. He asks, "What is education?" and what meaning can it have if it does not attempt to tackle the problems central to each of us.
What is the right way to live? What is the ideal society? What principles should guide my behavior? What is success, what is failure? Is there a creator, and if so, should we look to it for guidance? These are often dismissed as questions of religion, but religion is not something opposed to rationality, it simply seeks to answer such questions through faith. The separation of church and state is, of course, important, but it should never be a reason for intellectual submission or suppression of any kind. Ethics — it is what defines us — as individuals, as a society — and yet it is never discussed, never explained, never justified.
Our vision is short-sighted and without purpose. This purposelessness, however, is not accidental or a mere effect of our (by historical standards) somewhat luxurious lifestyles. It is an end in itself. Postmodernism has taken hold of philosophy, art, music and is seeping into education. Postmodernism claims that there is no objective reality, no absolute truth, no foundational principles which are true for all people in all times. With roots in the nihilism of the 18th century, it seeks to tear down modern constructs of reality and allow freedom for the individual to create his own reality.
Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life--the passion for destruction is also a creative passion.
--Mikhael Bakunin (Russian anarchist, Reaction in Germany, 1842)
It's ultimate form is complete purposelessness. As Ravi Zacharias passed the Wexner Center for Performing Arts on his way to a lecture at Ohio State University, his host described the building:
“This is America’s first postmodern building...the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.”
While our philosophers, artists and entertainers are deconstructing our social foundations, our children passively absorb their worldview. If anything summarizes the problems we see in education today, it is a general sense of purposelessness among our youth. If we wish to motivate our children, we must instill in them a sense of purpose. This, in fact, is the fourth spiritual need Carole Adams outlines in The Christian Idea of the Child.
Purpose: If children see themselves as having a place in history and see the events in their lives in light of a providential God, then they can have assurance for their present and future.
Each of us were created individually and with a purpose. We are to glorify God, tend and study the earth, be fruitful and make disciples. Education should meet each of these needs, describing the right way to live, the principles to live by, the sovereignty of God and the principles of each subject area. As we learn to direct each day according to our godly purpose, we instill in our children a sense of purpose in their own lives. This sets a foundation and a vision strong enough to withstand the purposeful attempts at deconstructing it and that will last a lifetime.

Previous posts on motivation and the sprititual needs of the child:
Motivation and Self-Government
Cherishing Our Children
Keep That Which is Committed to Thy Trust
Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

(Credits and further discussion: Why Homeschool, Spunkyhomeschool, Homeland Stupidity)

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