In true education, there is a clear hierarchy of priorities. Contrary to common belief, the primary purpose of education is not the acquisition of scientific breakthroughs or literary achievements. From a biblical perspective, knowledge—although important—is the least valuable. True education values character above power and power above knowledge.
Societies today tend to overemphasize the value of knowledge. Our best academic systems and institutions today are designed to impart the latest and greatest information and research. Though this attribute has provided much good in them, it is also where they fail. Education must impart wisdom, which provides the right use of knowledge. The institutions of society succeed in disseminating knowledge, but the morality and wisdom associated with its usage is often absent.
There are several reasons why wisdom is more critical then knowledge in the education of students. First, God is all-knowing, and He is also very willing to impart wisdom and knowledge to those who sincerely seek to do His will. On His own, He has the power to make people smarter. He does not require the help of a teacher or textbook to accomplish this. He is not even limited by the ability (or lack thereof) of the student. Acts 2 is the perfect example of this: uneducated men spoke in languages they had never studied before, strictly on the basis of God’s desire to give them that ability.
There is another reason why wisdom is more important than knowledge in the work of education. The trend of education today often appeals to egocentrism. Students are taught to learn material for the purpose of gaining an edge over their peers. This strengthens the very weaknesses of character we are called to overcome by appeal to self. It prepares the student to compete with their classmates and to advance at the expense of others. From the beginning of the educational career, the student is taught to nurture selfishness, which is the root of all evil and the largest obstacle facing the world today.
What we have been taught as children in school, we continue to use as our mode of operation in the workforce. We seek to be better than our coworkers so that we can receive the promotion to a better position. When our businesses discuss profit margins, they generally do not have the well-being of the consumer in mind; they’re worried about making business profitable and successful.
The purpose of true education must be to develop a counterinfluence against selfish ambition, gluttony for power, and indifference to the needs of humanity. This happens when students develop characters with the ability to control ability and the power to control power. This is the real work of true education.