Darrow Miller and Friends

School is Not the Same as Education

One-room school in 1935, Alabama (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum )

School and education … two words, two concepts. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t.

I’ll never forget the day I heard Francis Schaeffer say, “Never let your children’s schooling stand in the way of their education!”

I was shocked. I had always considered the words “school” and “education” synonymous. When I thought of education I pictured a school I had attended: Overland Avenue Elementary School, Palms Junior High School, and Hamilton High School.

Schaeffer’s startling remark recalled an earlier L’Abri revelation, near the end of my first quarter century of life, when it had dawned on me that I had never had a thought in my life! I had been to school, but had not been taught to think, explore, or have an inquisitive mind.

Since that time, I have become a lifelong learner and have reflected much on the difference between schooling and education. Here are some of the distinctions I have discovered:



A classroom with four walls

The world is my classroom (Proverbs 25:2; Job 12:7-12)

12 years of primary and secondary school with an end date at graduation

Learning that takes and lasts a lifetime and beyond … Even in eternity we will be learning!

Learning by rote: memorizing and regurgitating information

Forming an inquisitive mind, reasoning from principle, kindling creativity and imagination,  thinking independently.

Pursuing the latest fads and feeling good about oneself

The timeless pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

A quest for data, information, and technique

A quest for:

Knowledge – Perceiving what the information declares

Understanding – Discerning what the information means

Wisdom –  Applying the truth or moral application

Responsibility of the State

Responsibility of the parents and the student

Foundations of Darwinism and Naturalism

Foundation of Judeo-Christian Theism

Preparing people for tasks and behaviors in a consumer society

Preparing people for life

Teacher focused

Student focused

school per John Milton's view

John Milton, the English civil servant and brilliant poet (whose works include the epic poem Paradise Lost), penned a classic Christian Philosophy of Education: “The end of learning is to repair the ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him.”

I was a young father at the time of Schaeffer’s passing comment. Marilyn and I began to discuss its application for our children’s education. So it is fitting that this post was inspired when my son, Nathan, sent me an article about this very subject!

The article, How to Be a Student, was written by Bryan Smith, Headmaster of St. Peter’s Classical School in Fort Worth, Texas. Smith’s provocative piece says students must take responsibility for their own education.

Read, think, and celebrate!

 – Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).