Are You Filling a Pail, Or Lighting A Fire?

This weeks meme from Heart Of The Matter is to write our thoughts about the quote, “

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats

What a great quote. Could be a potentially controversial one too, don’t you think?  I’ve read similar ones over the years from people like Dorothy Sayers, Charlotte Mason, John Holt etc. I used to think it was about filling the pail – about filling the mind with facts. After all, that’s what we were taught in school. Study for the test, memorize the facts, put the facts to paper, then promptly forget. Popular TV game shows like Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? are a sure tell all about just how much of those facts have stuck.

educateWhat I have discovered over the years is that in order for facts to stick, there needs to be a certain level of interest present first. Have you ever self taught yourself anything? If you have, it’s probably safe to say that you had a desire to learn the skill in question. But then again, sometimes we are required to learn things that we don’t particularly desire. For some it may be grammar, for others it may be algebra. I’m referring to the topic in school that made you ask yourself the inevitable question: Why do I have to learn this?

You see learning can’t just be about the filling of pails with information. It helps to have a purpose filled education. It’s a tremendous accomplishment if you can help your child learn how to learn. If you can show your child how to reason, how to use logic and how to use rhetoric to support an argument.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 1:18

CreationI believe that a lot of natural learning (birthed from desire and natural interest) can occur in a home learning environment. But I also learned that exploring these subjects of education without including the One who created it all can be kind of like not getting enough oxygen to your brain.  Whether we realize it or not, whatever belief you adopt; either Creation or Evolution  – your choice will deeply effect how you look at the world. Cosmos or chaos? Purpose or accident? Confidence or fear?

The more I explore the laws that govern our world and universe, the natural order of biology, the laws of physics, the science of numbers, the beauty of art and yes, even the rules of grammar (after all if we can learn to communicate effectively on one language, we can learn how to communicate just as effectively in another language) – the more I learn about relationship. Seeing God and His revelation as the source of meaning and knowledge is what ignites the fire within me. The filling of facts comes later, but for me it takes on the form of hunger. A hunger for learning and a deeper desire for relationship.

“See to it that no one takes you captive with hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Collossions 2:8



Filed under Encouragement, Learning, Life, Meme

4 responses to “Are You Filling a Pail, Or Lighting A Fire?

  1. “Seeing God and His revelation as the source of meaning and knowledge is what ignites the fire within me.” I couldn’t agree more. Beautiful post. I’m printing this off and putting in my encouragement file.

  2. That is a fantastic entry! Well said 🙂

  3. Evana

    Very well said especially the one with W.B. Yeats!!!! Keep up the good work!!!!

  4. Pingback: Heart of the Matter Online Meme: Thoughts on William Butler Yeats Quote | Heart of the Matter Online - bridging the gap between child and parent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s