Training Children to Think Hard

ID-100158151 When looking at the CDG scope and sequence and the accompanying lessons, some people question whether or not it’s necessary or wise to provide children and young people with such a rigorous Bible study endeavor. It almost looks like “school,” requires both teachers and students to really exert thoughtful effort, and often leaves little time for additional crafts, games, and “hanging out together.” It is not that we are opposed to the latter in the classroom, it’s simply that we believe in maximizing our time by first focusing on what is most important. Consider these words from John Piper in his article, “A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind”:

I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education—the rigorous training of the mind—is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.

This sounds too obvious to be useful or compelling. But that’s just because we take the preciousness of reading so for granted; or, even more, because we appreciate so little the kind of thinking that a complex Bible passage requires of us.

The book of Hebrews, for example, is an intellectually challenging argument from Old Testament texts. The points that the author makes hang on biblical observations that come only from rigorous reading, not light skimming. And the understanding of these Old Testament interpretations in the text of Hebrews requires rigorous thought and mental effort. The same could be said for the extended argumentation of Romans and Galatians and the other books of the Bible.

This is an overwhelming argument for giving our children a disciplined and rigorous training in how to think an author’s thoughts after him from a text—especially a biblical text.

…Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!

 (Copyright ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.)

 (Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at

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