Like all parents, Jehovah’s Witnesses are concerned about their children’s future. They therefore attach great importance to education. “Education should help people become useful members of society. It should also help them develop an appreciation of their cultural heritage and live more satisfying lives.”
AS THIS quotation from The World Book Encyclopedia suggests, one of the main aims of schooling is to train children for day-to-day living, which includes enabling them to care for the needs of a family one day. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this is a sacred responsibility. The Bible itself says: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) The years spent at school prepare children for the responsibilities they will take on in life. Accordingly, Witnesses feel that education should be taken very seriously.
“Education should help people become useful members of society. It should also help them develop an appreciation of their cultural heritage and live more satisfying lives.”—The World Book Encyclopedia
Witnesses endeavor to live by the Bible command: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23, Today’s English Version) This principle applies to all aspects of daily life, including school. Witnesses thus encourage their youngsters to work hard and to take seriously the tasks assigned to them at school.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord.”—Colossians 3:23, Today’s English Version
The Bible also teaches submission to the laws of the land in which one lives. So when schooling is obligatory up to a certain age, Jehovah’s Witnesses comply with this law.—Romans 13:1-7.
While not minimizing the importance of training for day-to-day living, the Bible shows that this is neither the only nor the principal goal of education. A successful education should also foster in children the joy of living and help them to take their place in society as well-balanced individuals. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that the choice of activities outside the classroom is very important. They believe that healthy relaxation, music, hobbies, physical exercise, visits to libraries and museums, and so forth, play an important part in a balanced education. In addition, they teach their children to respect older persons and to seek opportunities to do them a service.
What About Supplementary Education?
Because of new technology, the job market is constantly changing. As a result, many youngsters will have to work in areas or in trades in which they have had no specific training. That being the case, their work habits and personal training, in particular their ability to adapt to change, will be even more valuable to them. Accordingly, it is better that students become adults having, as Renaissance essayist Montaigne expressed it, ‘a well-made head rather than a well-filled head.’
Unemployment, affecting both rich and poor lands, often threatens young people who are insufficiently qualified. Therefore, if the job market calls for training in addition to the minimum required by law, it is up to the parents to guide their children in making a decision about supplementary education, weighing both the potential benefits and the sacrifices that such additional studies would entail.
However, you will likely agree that success in life involves more than just material prosperity. In recent times men and women whose whole lives had become absorbed in their careers lost everything upon losing their jobs. Some parents have sacrificed their family life and the time that they could have spent with their children, missing out on helping them to grow up, because they were consumed by secular work.
Clearly, a balanced education should take into account that more than material prosperity is needed to make us truly happy. Jesus Christ stated: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, New International Version) As Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses appreciate the importance of developing moral and spiritual qualities as well as preparing themselves to care for their material needs.