“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 KJV
This time of year is so exciting. It’s back to school from a summer of relaxation, reunions, and vacations for our children. It’s time now for more learning, exploring, growing, experimenting, and discovering. As Horace Mann stated in one of his speeches, Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery. Our children will be exposed to a component of the village which shares the responsibility of training them. For the village is not just the home, but also the school and the church. And it takes the entire village to train up the children. The three institutions of the home, church, and school are the bedrock of social, economic, and moral development. And all three are needed to, in the Peterson translation of our biblical text “point kids in the right direction, so that when they’re older they won’t get lost.”
The Church deals with the eternal order, and our eternal salvation. The school deals with the temporal order, which is concerned with the here and now, the material well-being of citizens. And the home deals with the moral order. God designed us and the children as material bodies and immortal spirits, and all dimensions of our being must be attended to.
Dr. Jocelyn Taliaferro, an associate professor of social work at North Carolina State University designed what is called a Child Family Team (CFT). The CFT takes a ‘village’ approach. A child and his or her family decide who would be on the team – such as teachers, social workers, pastors or other community members – and then work with the team to develop a plan for helping the child succeed both in school and in the broader community. The CFT approach removes the ‘us versus them’ mentality by bringing in a broad support group and giving the identified child and family some control over learning situations. It takes a village
The village needs to dedicate the children. Honoring these precious gifts from the Lord, parents and guardians should exercise their right to present babies, infants, and young children for prayer to the Lord so that their purposes are fulfilled for being created.
The village needs to disciple and discipline the children. Introducing prayer, and scripture to youngsters goes a long way in shaping their spiritual development. The first word “train” (paideia) is where we derive the word ‘pedagogy.’ It refers to discipline and also contains the broader meaning of education, particularly of the young.
The village has to also direct our children. The word “train” also involves the idea of reasoning and gentle or friendly reproof. It is appropriate to children as they get older when they can have a better understanding of the spiritual and moral implications of their own behavior.
Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, former president of Morehouse College, understood the need for the partnership of family, school and church in shaping younger generations. He once said, “I am disturbed, I am uneasy about men because we have no guarantee that when we train a man’s mind, we will train his heart; no guarantee that when we increase a man’s knowledge, we will increase his goodness. There is no necessary correlation between knowledge and goodness.”
A paraphrased prayer by Marian Wright Edelman:
“God, help the village not to raise a new generation of children with high intellectual quotients and low caring and compassion quotients; with sharp competitive edges but dull cooperative instincts; with highly developed computer skills but poorly developed consciences; with a gigantic commitment to the big “I” but little sense of responsibility to the bigger “we”; with mounds of disconnected information without a moral context to determine its worth; with more and more knowledge and less and less imagination and appreciation for the magic of life that cannot be quantified or computerized; and with more and more worldliness and less and less wonder and awe for the sacred and everyday miracles of life. God, help the village to raise children who care.”
Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com