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Skills and Knowledge

Written by Howard Mandel
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 10:00

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-by Mimi Rothschild

Are you struggling between giving your students the knowledge they need in the form of information, and helping them develop the skills they’ll need for life?

It can be a tough choice. We have limited time, and lots to cover. Sometimes we feel that knowing about Shakespeare might not be as important as being able to use the computer, or that being able to read maps might be less useful than knowing geography. We might even struggle to decide between teaching our kids how to multiply, and having them memorize the multiplication tables.

The question is made more difficult in some ways, as it seems that the amount of information available keeps growing, and the skills needed in the future work world become harder to predict.

How can we balance skills and knowledge?

First, let’s see what the Bible has to say on this subject.

In Exodus 31:3, God says, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” “Crafts” is a word we now sometimes use in the sense of hobbies, but a craft is a set of abilities: the craft of writing, or of drawing, or of building. The Proverbs 31 woman is a collection of skills. Jesus showed skill in all that He did, and indeed we’re told that God “doeth all things well.” The subject of skill arises repeatedly throughout the old and new testaments, as individuals are identified by their skills in everything from embroidery to warfare.

Yet the word of God also tells us that God’s knowledge is perfect (Job 37:16) and that human knowledge comes from God (Proverbs 2:6). We are advised to seek wisdom and knowledge, and knowledge is referred to as “riches” more than once. In fact, knowledge is included along with other fruits of the spirit in 2 Peter 1:4-6, in which we are exhorted to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.”
If we look at the many passages in the Bible that discuss skill and knowledge, we can see that God doesn’t distinguish these two things, considering one more important than the other. So why should we?

Is the skill of being able to read worth gaining without the chance it gives us to get knowledge from reading? Is knowing about technology useful if we can’t apply that knowledge?

Let’s follow God’s leading in this as we do in other areas of our lives, and help our children gain both knowledge and skill. When we teach information, we should give our students the opportunity to apply it. When we teach skills, we should practice them with worthwhile information, not with meaningless examples.

Have your students practice their handwriting by copying out Bible verses they need to learn. Let them practice math skills by preparing a family budget or planning to build a dog house. Encourage them to use their knowledge about nutrition to plan nutritious family meals, and to teach things they’ve learned to younger siblings.

This approach will encourage both skills and knowledge, for an efficient and well-rounded educational experience.

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.

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