The ancient Hebrew proverb puts it like this:
In other words, a good education sets the direction for the rest of life. While there may be exceptions, the general principle is that what we learn in our formative years will continue with us, influencing our decisions for many decades to come.
The book of Proverbs, from which this quotation is taken, contains King Solomon's wise counsel to his son. In the opening paragraph Solomon sets out what he wants his son to learn. It is a long list, including wisdom, instruction, insight, righteousness, justice, equity, prudence, knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 1:1-4, ESV)
These wide-ranging learning objectives contrast considerably with what many of us grew up learning at school. Yet our society would benefit greatly if we grasped what King Solomon had come to realise: education should be more than learning facts. True education should develop noble character, teaching us how to live a life that makes a difference. We need to learn about the responsibilities, opportunities and risks that lie ahead. Our education should train us to have moral integrity in both our public and private lives.
Of course, a bad education can also be life-changing. If we fail to teach children to work hard and be disciplined, we set them on course for a wasted life; to raise them with no moral boundaries will likely result in a life of regret and heartbreak. If we do not teach them who they are and why they are here, they will be left insecure and searching for meaning.
Education is vitally important. We would all do well to consider what we are learning, as well as our responsibility to teach the upcoming generation.