For most of my growing-up years, going to school was about getting a diploma. Getting a diploma was about going to college. Going to college was about getting a good job. Then I became a Christian right before my senior year of high school and I tweaked this personal educational mantra. The “getting a good job” was replaced by a belief that I was called to ministry. I was fully aware that that might very well not be a “good job” in the financial sense. But it would be a good job in the “making a difference spiritually” sense.
Sadly, in those early years (even after becoming a Christ-follower), I never grasped the concept of getting a great education because it’s important to know stuff. For me, high school/college was always a means to an end. Being married to a teacher/principal/school administrator began to chip away at those faulty beliefs. Leesa often talked about the joy of learning. Embracing the concept that “joy” and “learning” could be two peas in the same pod was revolutionary for me.
Although Leesa helped move the needle for me regarding education, I still struggled for years to grasp it in the same way she did. When we had discretionary income after tithing, she would often suggest we give towards “educational” endeavors. I would argue that we should always donate to higher efforts—that is, churches, parachurch ministries, missionaries, etc.
That changed when I visited India several years ago as part of the promotional effort for the movie Not Today. It was in India where I encountered the Dalit people, once called “the untouchables.” These wonderful folk—numbering over 200,000,000—are so low on India’s caste system that they are not considered part of it. They’re considered below the caste, like cockroaches or mice.
What helps elevate the Dalit people to a place where they can earn a decent wage and move out of the ghastly slums? I discovered that it wasn’t just bringing them to Jesus (as I assumed). It was in bringing people to Jesus and providing opportunities for a suitable education, too (not always in that order).
Yes, my wife had been right all along.
I worry about kids in school today. How many are like me? Just occupying a desk till the bell rings, but with little enthusiasm? How will today’s students develop what I missed—that joy of learning? Do they have to marry an educator and travel to India?
I’ve found a recent bright spot in education: teachers using hip-hop to get kids excited about learning. I believe hip-hop would have helped me way back when, too (although hip-hop wasn’t around when I and the dinosaurs roamed the earth). Here’s a YouTube video of a teacher named Chris Emdin who uses hip-hop music to teach science. Not materialism, misogyny, weed or AK-47s, but science!
Wow! Digging deeper, I found another teacher named Greg Caskey (who goes by M.C. Caskey) rapping about economics. Making the subject of economics interesting must be a real challenge. But apparently, Caskey’s students are getting in to it. Check out a news story here:
Now, I’m not suggesting that every teacher in America learn to rap. What I am suggesting is that learning is a God thing, a joyful thing. And all of us should work toward more and more people getting better and better educated.
Yes, I wish I had believed that much earlier in life. Perhaps today’s blog will move the needle for you (if it needs moving). There’s a saying that cleanliness is next to godliness. I’m not sure about that. But I am now sure that the joy of learning is next to godliness. And I could rap about that all day!