Hebrew v. Greek Education

Greek education focused on content. Hebrew education focused on relationship. Greek teachers tried to shape students’ minds. Hebrew teachers tried to shape students’ hearts. Greek students were to learn what their teacher knew. Hebrew students were to become what their teacher was.

The Biblical approach to education is Hebrew in nature. This means it is relationship driven. Truth is communicated in the context of relationships.

The modern American system of education uses the Greek approach. Under this regime, relationships and family are sacrificed for efficiency. Thus, you have age-segregated, peer-based classrooms which are very efficient at catering to the lowest common denominator of academic and moral standards, but are utterly incapable of meeting the needs of the individual, let alone communicating spiritual truths.

The Greek notion of education, that the Prussians (Germans) later developed and spread throughout western society, emphasizes knowledge. The goal is for students to learn what their teachers know It is based on cognitive input. (This is the model public school in America is based upon)

In the Hebrew (scriptural) model of education the goal is for the disciple to become what his teacher is - Knowledge is acquired as a by-product, but the goal is to shape the character and inclinations of the heart.

The Greeks focused on the content of knowledge. The Hebrews focused on the context. The Greeks saw minds as empty jars to be filled. They followed impersonal curriculum. The Hebrews saw minds as clay to be molded. They personalized the educational process by teachers spending time simply talking with, working with, playing with, living with, their students. Its not a matter of changing content. It’s not just making sure the curriculum is Bible-based. The difference is deeper: The discipleship pattern drastically changes the whole methodology. (Paul Schutte, “Developing a Biblical Philosophy of Education, 2004)

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