The 17,000 Hour Decision: Why Christian Education Matters
Any education, whether Christian or public, is an investment in time. The precious hours in our children’s lives are limited, so we must make wise decisions about where that time is spent and with whom it is spent. For me, the decision has always been an easy one: I want my children to be surrounded by role models and other influences that boldly proclaim God’s truth and reinforce my family’s values.
It is easy to see why a Christian education is important once you start doing the math and considering how much potential time our children could spend being influenced by a culture that isn’t God-honoring.
In the average family, a young person spends about 13,000 hours between the ages of six and eighteen directly interacting with their parents (11, 290 hours) and attending church (1,730 hours). These are those impactful moments when values are instilled and lessons are learned to forge the character of our children.
Now consider this: the average student spends 20,020 hours before age eighteen interacting with media. If you are making a comparison between how much time your child is being influenced by you as opposed to how much time he is being influenced by others, you are already behind by seven thousand hours!
And that is when you have to make the 17,000 hour decision: Where my child will attend school? (Note that your child will spend more time in school than he will spend time interacting with you – see two paragraphs above.) Imagine a chart with a line going down the center. The left side of the chart is labeled “My Influence” and the right side is labeled “Outside Influences.” Those seventeen thousand hours can go in the “My Influence” column that represent people and places where your ideas and values are stressed, or you can put those hours into the “Outside Influences” column where you cannot control what philosophies will be presented to your child.
In short, you will be making a decision about who will be able to influence your child during those all-important years between pre-school and twelfth grade.
There are three important questions to ask when considering the education of your children.
What is Taught? This goes beyond the creation vs. evolution debate. Will your child attend a school where all belief systems are represented as equally true? Will your child be forced to learn curricula that you disagree with? Or will your child’s teacher reinforce your values? Will she pray for your child?
What is Not Taught? This is equally as important as the first question. What will your student learn about God when he spends his entire educational life pretending as if He didn’t exist? God is not invited into the learning process in the public schools. God’s Word is not taught. It forces a false dichotomy between education and Christian life.
Who Is Teaching and What is Their Agenda? Every teacher, whether they realize it or not, lives out their personal worldview in front of their students. Are your student’s teachers godly role models for your child, or are they influencing your child to embrace false beliefs about the world while they are young and impressionable?
I have lived or worked in all three arenas: I taught in a public school for nine years, a Christian school for six, and I am a parent to two kids currently enrolled at Dayton Christian School. And I wouldn’t have my children anywhere else. I know they are hearing God’s Word every day. I know their teachers love them and pray for them. I know the curriculum they are taught does not waver from Biblical truth. When my oldest son walks down the aisle at commencement this year, I will have a peace in my heart that I invested those 17,000 hours in the right place.