Do you have a kid who always asks you "why?" Sometimes the questions are easy, but sometimes they're hard to answer. You know what I mean. Depending on how much I need to do at the moment, they either get a gruff, "I don't know" or a World Book encyclopedia entry. Children are naturally curious. I remember Janna when she was just an infant---I can't remember how old, but she was less than a couple months---just staring at her upraised little fists in amazement. I can only imagine what she was thinking at the time---"What is this?"
God's world is full of amazing things: sunsets that change color, birds that fly, even mold that grows. Bugs, dirt, rocks and sticks would fascinate Matthew for hours. (I think they still do.)
But somewhere down the road, we lose that sense of wonder in the world around us. We become almost jaded by what we see and adopt a "Been there, seen that" mentality. I know I have. Clouds and kittens and pond scum fail to amaze me anymore, that's for sure. A flock of birds flying? No big deal. Let's move on.
However, when we study science, the Lord opens up His mysteries to us. Last year, Matthew and I had a chance to delve into the world of rocks and gems (his choice) for about six weeks. We got a couple rock books, some samples and a magnifying glass and had a blast. We learned about fool's gold and crystals and how diamonds are cut. I know that I came away with awe, looking at the variety that can be found in ordinary rocks!
Studying science is a wonderful way of seeing the creativity and order of God. As Matthew and I looked and sorted through rocks, we were amazed at the variety and complexity of what seemed to be dull inanimate objects. Just think when we start looking at the things that actually move! As a biological science major, I remember the fascination I had when studying human physiology. The way our bodies are created and work together in partnership with one another never failed to amaze me.
Another thing that I hope science develops in my children is an inquisitiveness. Again, Matthew is my little scientist. I remember him as a little guy getting an idea in his mind and trying different experiments on his own. He basically was testing a hypothesis, making adjustments and discovering on his own the best way to get his little toy car to go the longest distance. Physics!
This skill is helpful in problem solving as our children encounter a problem and try to figure out a solution that works best. They also learn perseverance as they keep trying over and over. They learn to pay attention to detail, the slight differences that they can make to get different results.
Science is one of those subjects where God can be entirely left out or He is the center of it. In either case, you will come up with different conclusions. One of the things that we need to do as parents is to help them to see the world through the lens of God so that they will see the natural world around them through His perspective.
I don't avoid "evolutionist" books. Some of them are very well done and beautiful. As we read them though, it has been a wonderful way for us to question the conclusions that are drawn, teaching the kids not to believe everything they read. This is true even for Christian books. Sometimes I have found them too "preachy." The one book that we are to use to align all that we read is Scripture. Studying and reading science books has given us one way to do this.
As believers, let us not lose sight of the awesome creation in the world around us. One of the things I have always wanted to do but haven't yet is to do nature study with my kids---just going outside and taking time to linger in creation. In the process, I hope that my kids come to see the awesomeness of our God and the beauty of His hands.
Part 4 of The Gift of Education