We have been considering the metaphor of children as arrows. That's how Psalm 127 describes them, and in that context the Psalmist also speaks of them as a blessing. There's nothing better than a quiver full of them!

In his comments on this Psalm, Charles Spurgeon agrees with the Psalmist, but will not let us become too romantic as he adds a twist of realism to the metaphor.

He writes,
"When sons and daughters are arrows, it is well to have a full quiver of them; but if they are sticks, knotty and useless, the fewer of them the better." 

Children are supposed to be arrows, but bent arrows become boomerangs, and parents with a quiver full of them are likely to shoot themselves in the foot!

In line with Spurgeon's observation, we now live in a culture that would perhaps say "Amen" to his rather caustic tone. It seems to articulate the advantages of small families. People look at the behavior of children in the grocery store and decide that they don't want a large quiver full of creatures like that!

Teachers often feel the same way. In every round of bargaining for a new contract, the teachers are as keen to decrease class sizes as they are to increase salary scales. The rhetoric suggests they are only interested in the well-being of their students, but there is a degree of vested interest in their demands: they are better off with fewer knotty problems in their classrooms.

In Christian schools, the vision for education that is promoted rightly focuses on the profound truth that each child is created in the image of God. This is significantly different from the secular philosophy that celebrates the uniqueness of the individual on humanistic grounds. But the difference between Christianity and Secular Humanism is more complex than seeing the uniqueness of the individual in different shades of pink through our equally rose-colored spectacles.

The biblical view of the child is both brighter and darker than its secular counterparts. It sees a destiny for little creatures made in the image of God that is far more brilliant than could be imagined in the modern child-centred philosophies of maximizing human potential. Yet it also leaves no room for the naive view of inherent goodness in which little Johnny can neither read nor do wrong. Christian education can and must see the deep darkness of the reality of sin in our children's lives. Their hope is ultimately not in education but in the Gospel. Schooling must be part of the good news.

In "Out of the Silent Planet", C.S.Lewis has characters who are described as "bent" people. That's a problem in our analogy of children as arrows. Every kindergarten teacher, regardless of her theoretical philosophy, sees every day in every classroom that the little arrows she is working with have an in-built bias toward what the Bible calls sin. All of us, as a result of sin, have been bent out of shape. As part of that human condition which theologians call the Fall, human beings do not think straight. This is the most fundamental of all learning disabilities, and most special education programs have no answers for it. If the root problem is sin, then only grace can provide real solutions.

"Pupils who can see" is a book that helps us build our education programs with children in mind, as it takes a look at a biblical view of the child. In chapter 7 we explore the fact that each child has a sinful nature. The crooked and knotty arrows need to be straightened and polished in order to hit the target. This is a work of grace, and a successful teacher must be an agent of the Gospel.

Pupils who can see is now available in all e-book formats through a variety of outlets at $1.99. 

To find it for Kindle at Amazon.com, click here

To buy a copy for Koboclick here

To download it for iPads and iPhones, go to your account at the iTunes store and search for "Brian Watts pupils"