Are Public Schools Teaching Wisdom?

As a public school teacher I worked with children to teach them how to read, write, think mathematically, and ask questions like a scientist. The students learned about the importance to vote, the constitution and the Bill of Rights.  All important topics for students to grow up to be productive American citizens.

But the biggest part of our instructional time was spent preparing for the FCAT or FSA. The students contrasted themes, wrote evidence from the text to support their reasoning, and explained why their solution to the math problem was reasonable.

But there was one thing that I did not teach.  One thing that I was not allowed to teach.

During my internship, my university mentor advised me after a first grade math lesson that I should not point out to the children the words, “In God We Trust” even though I was teaching them how to distinguish different coins. It might jeopardize my future employment.

So, next time, I didn’t. I never mentioned God or Jesus Christ to my students until….

One day while supervising the bathroom line before recess, a third grade boy looked up at me with watery eyes and asked, “Mrs. Jollie, is it true?”  Intrigued, I leaned towards him listening carefully to his question. “Is it true, are people in heaven dead?”

His earthly Father had died earlier that week in a motorcycle crash and his mother simply told him, “your father is in heaven.” To an eight year old boy who never attended church before, he thought heaven was a city or a town in Florida.  Until his best friend told him heaven is a place where dead people are buried. Tears dripped down his cheeks.

But I’m not allowed to comfort him by explaining that Heaven is a real place where a real God, the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ live along with all the people who love him.  And that one day He will see his earthly Father again in Heaven.

And if the teacher can’t, the best friend doesn’t know, and the mom can’t speak the words…Who will answer him, “Is it true?”

Are Public School Teachers Teaching Wisdom or Knowledge?

When students define, describe, and identify objects, they are remembering previously learned material otherwise known as knowledge.  According to Bloom’s taxonomy, this is the lowest level of learning and most students usually do well with these skills. But even though the children work hard to remember “knowledge” that doesn’t make them wise.

Think about it. Satan and demons have knowledge of the scripture.   Satan probably has scripture memorized albeit slightly wrong and he even speaks it…usually to accuse us.  Maybe memorizing scripture and rotely speaking scripture are not wisdom either.

Can Wisdom be the same as defining Christianity, describing Jesus Christ, and identifying bible verses?  Hmmm….

John Newton describes a person who pronounces the name of a broom in many languages like Latin, Greek, Dutch, and Spanish.   Is that wisdom or knowledge?

Then compare that task to the custodian who actually uses the broom to clean the floor.  Is that wisdom or knowledge?

So….in the same way just knowing the name of the broom and just knowing the scripture verses may not be wisdom after all.

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy applying knowledge in real life situations is application, a higher level of knowledge.  Could that be wisdom?

Can Wisdom Be Taught?

In the same way students need to practice reading, writing, and calculations every day to be prepared for the big test, we need to practice making wise choices. But how do we know which choices are wise?

Wisdom comes from God.

Carrying my High School diploma at graduation, I looked wise. But my actions of walking through a vacant lot late at night, proved me to be quite foolish.  Even someone with a doctorate’s degree can act foolishly.

On the other hand, pre-schoolers who don’t have much knowledge are capable of making very wise decisions. For example, my young sons have boldly shared their faith with other children and adults despite being in a public school setting.

My young children believed without a doubt that God heard their prayers, listened, and answered. They prayed expecting results and kept praying until they received an answer.  Where did they learn that?

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. James 3:17 BSB

Wisdom comes from above. Thank you Heavenly Father. 

Discernment to Make Wise Choices Comes From God

Faithfully obey these laws. This will show the people of the world your wisdom and insight. When they hear about all these laws, they will say, “What wise and insightful people there are in this great nation!” Deuteronomy 4:6 GWT

In case you are wondering what laws are being referred to in the above verse, the laws are the Ten Commandments.  What? You haven’t heard of the Ten Commandments?

Well, if you were born in 1995 or later, attended a public school, and weren’t raised in a home that attended church, then it is very likely that you have never heard of the Ten Commandments.  After all, they aren’t allowed in the public schools or even in the courthouses for that matter.

Here are the Ten Commandments in case you haven’t ever had the opportunity to read these “unconstitutional words”, or even more importantly if you need a refresher to guard your mind.

#1 Know therefore this day and take to heart that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39 BSB

#2 Be careful that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God that He made with you; do not make an idol for yourselves in the form of anything He has forbidden you. Deuteronomy 4: 23 BSB

#3 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7 BSB

#4 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God, on which you must not do any work—neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant or livestock, nor the foreigner within your gates. Exodus 20:9 BSB

#5 Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 BSB

#6 You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13 BSB

#7 You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20: 14 BSB

#8 You shall not steal. Exodus 20: 15 BSB

#9 You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 NLT

#10 You are not to covet your neighbor’s house. You are not to covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

Does “In God We Trust” Belong in Public Schools?

According to the Washington Post, “Florida is one of seven states this year that passed laws requiring or permitting schools and other public buildings to post “In God We Trust.”

So, if you are a Florida Teacher in 2018 it is okay to point out to first grade children our National Motto, “In God We Trust.” In fact, it can even be tacked on the bulletin board.

Should the Ten Commandments Be Posted in Public School Classrooms as a Historical Document?

I was surprised to learn that back in 2000 during the “Hang 10” movement, the Ten Commandments were allowed to be posted in public classrooms along with other historical documents like the Declaration of Independence.

I’ve taught in 5 different schools during that decade and do not recall any having the ten commandments posted anywhere on campus.  Only a few even had bibles in the school library for students to check out.

According to the University of Nebraska, “Even though there may have been a secular purpose to promote moral values in schoolchildren, to accomplish such a purpose by posting the Ten Commandments was determined to be an unconstitutional religious
practice.” And this is why young Americans who attended public schools may not even be able to identify the Ten Commandments from a line up of historical documents.

So How Will Our Children Learn True Wisdom?

Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen, and so that they do not slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9 BSB

God has tasked parents, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers the responsibility to teach “true wisdom” to the next generation.  And if the family can’t, or don’t know, then it is our responsibility to teach “wisdom” to the next generation.

So the real question is not Are The Public Schools Teaching Wisdom?  The real question is Are you Teaching the next generation True Wisdom?

Will You Pray for the World’s Children?

Heavenly Father, You are the True Wisdom that our hearts, souls, and minds desperately need. Thank you for your word where we can find true wisdom. We confess that we as voters have not been on guard and your commandments have slipped from America’s public schools. However it is the responsibility of every family member and neighbor. Help us Lord to have courage and teach our children and our neighbor’s children your word which is “true wisdom.” In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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Published by April Jollie

Teacher + Writer = Lessons of Hope for Tough Days, writer to deepen understanding of God's Word and to stay connected to Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Are Public Schools Teaching Wisdom?

  1. 2 Timothy 3: 15 KJV “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” Paul was encouraging young Timothy and it is there to show us today the wisdom come from God. Knowledge can be given by information but wisdom come from God. The wisdom of this world put people into trouble but the wisdom which is from above even as you had quoted it in your posting is a blessing.
    The Ten Commandment should be taught in school for children to understand.not just place there. The Bible say how can they hear without a preacher, and how n they preach except they are sent. We need God fearing people like you in the school environment to show the children love and nurture then in the right direction. The Ten Commandment should be in all public places.

    1. Thank you Maurice for sharing that scripture about how the holy scriptures make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I agree the world’s wisdom causes misery and the Lord’s wisdom is peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. I agree that the Ten Commandments is an important historical document and it should be taught in 6th grade. This is from a 6th grade curriculum map for Volusia county (maybe a current teacher will let us know if the 10 commandments are taught): “Students will understand Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism” I agree we need more God fearing people in the school environment to love, nurture, and pray for the student’s families. I just hope educators don’t avoid the phrase “In God We Trust” or teaching about the 10 Commandments just because they are fearful something might happen if they do…

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