It’s said that that to educate a woman is to educate an entire generation.
Traditionally, it’s women who influence their husbands and teach their children, so women have a huge responsibility to do that in a wise and godly way. What a woman learns affects how she influences and what she teaches.
I remember thinking, when I was younger, that a girl’s education — even in the late 1990s — should first and foremost be domestic. My career of choice at that time was homemaking and motherhood and I knew I’d need a lot of domestic knowledge and skill if I was going to make a home and raise a houseful of children. I was right. What I overlooked was the possibility that God’s plans, although good, were different from my plans and that I’d need to know more than how to cook and clean and rock a baby. My parents had a bit more foresight. They let me be as domestic as my heart desired, but they kept me reading, they kept me thinking, they kept me wanting to discover what was over the horizon.
A definition of an education, provided by Oxford Dictionaries, is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction” and another is “a body of knowledge acquired while being educated”. Another, which I find rather fascinating, is “an enlightening experience”. Everyone graduates sooner or later from receiving systematic instruction. Some of us graduate to giving systematic instruction! Everyone takes their “body of knowledge acquired” through life. And, of course, education through a series of enlightening experiences continues until death. Education is more than The Three Rs — “Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic” — and, good or bad, it’s inevitable.
What I think I failed to realise when I was younger is that a good education is a blessing. I’m confident that I was right not to go to college when I was eighteen. I was heavily influenced by something that Keith Green said:
You shouldn’t go to college unless God has definitely called you to go.
God hadn’t definitely called me to go, so I didn’t go. Last year, however, He definitely called me to go, so I’m going now. I’m studying for a degree, largely by correspondence. I still don’t believe that everyone is called to go to college. I still don’t believe that a good education is defined by a college degree. What I do believe is that a girl needs a good education.
An education in all things domestic is good. There is, however, more to life than baking bread and mopping floors. Those things can and should be done with excellence and they can and will bless others. What’s a girl to do, however, if she’s not called to devote most of her time to those tasks today? What I didn’t realise when I was younger is that there’s more, a lot more, to a good education. There are the basics and there are the “extras”: history and art and physics and science. A good education will enable a woman to be domestic and empower her to do more– more than domesticity. What is the definition of “more” in “more than domesticity”? It’s whatever God is calling a girl to do with her life. It will be different for every girl He creates and calls. Each girl’s education, beyond the basics, will probably be different too.
For some girls, “more than domesticity” is being an equal partner in marriage, as well as a submissive wife. For some girls, “more than domesticity” is supervising the education of her children, at home or in school. For some girls, “more than domesticity” is teaching other women’s children in school or at church or investing her time and skills in a ministry or…you fill in the blank here.
For all girls, “more” is more than blindly following. It’s daring to lead by thinking, by making informed choices, by discerning the now-focused, us-focused priorities of postmodernism and choosing a different, higher set of priorities. It’s making and promoting godly decisions from a position of strength rather than weakness. It’s being empowered to let justice and mercy to assume their proper proportions in our demanding, relentless world.
If you’re studying today, I want to encourage you to persevere, whether you’re pursuing a self-motivated program of study or a college-run course. Be discerning. Be diligent. Be creative. Be assured that the reward for your labours will be great — greater than the degree you earn.
If you’re not studying today, that’s fine, but I want to encourage you to never stop learning. Studying is formal learning. Learning, however, happens all the time. You can always be intentional about learning. You may want to consider formal study. Even if you don’t, however, consider intentional learning. Read. Think. Discover what’s over the horizon of the last book you read or the hill beyond your kitchen window or the missions meeting at church.
The choice between domesticity and education isn’t an all-or-nothing choice. You can choose both options. The choice for education isn’t a choice for feminism or secularism or whatever it is you fear — it’s only a choice for those things if you make it a choice for those things. It is, I believe, a choice for lifelong exploration, for lifelong discovery, for the ability to think and debate and decide for the rest of your life.
The choice for education is a lifelong choice to equip yourself to educate — in a wise and godly way, by the grace of God — a generation.