Education is Hearing
“Listen up!” “Pay attention!” “Tune in.” How often do you catch yourself saying that to your children? You’re not in bad company if you repeat this command often. This is one of the most repeated directions in the book of Proverbs as well. In just the first 8 chapters there are over fifteen instances of some form of this command. Jesus was also fond of saying his own version of this: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Why such a big emphasis on hearing? My hunch is that it is because hearing is one of the only, if not the only, entrances to gaining knowledge. There is no other way to get in. Hearing is the doorway you have to go through if we’re going to grow in wisdom. If we can’t hear God, we can’t learn about him. If we can’t listen to instruction from Him, or from our pastors, parents, friends and teachers, we’re stuck. We need the input and advice from all those places, and to receive that instruction, we need to be able to hear.
Attentiveness is the fundamental habit required to be a good listener. In order to listen well, we need to learn to filter out all the other distractions and focus on the one thing we’re trying to hear. Being attentive is difficult work. We should be worn out after listening well, just like we would be if we’d worked hard physically.
The problem is, we live in a culture that is increasingly making it difficult to build the skills necessary to be good listeners.
As a culture, we’re being trained to only be able to focus on what entertains us. There is a push to turn everything from grocery shopping to dental visits into an opportunity to be entertained. There is nothing sinful about this, but we must be aware of the temptations an entertainment-saturated culture will present to us and our children. Why would I want to study Latin when I could watch “Epic Fails 2016” on Youtube?
On top of that, as a culture, through the influence of modern technology, we’re growing in being “partially-attentive” at all times. Our attention is continually being diced up into smaller and smaller pieces in order to focus on all the “time saving” devices we surround ourselves with. Did so and so text me back? How many likes does my picture have? What’s the score to the game? Did you see that hilarious video? And on and on and on and on it goes. Our mind, and our children’s, is being disciplined in the art of being halfway present.
Are you raising your children in such a way that is encouraging them to hear? Does your home life present opportunities for your kids (and you) to grow in being attentive? May God grant us all wisdom to raise children who have the skills and habits not only to hear Him, but to be life long learners in His world.