Before Woodrow Wilson became president of the United States, he was president of Princeton University.
The anxious mother of a freshman cornered Wilson on registration day. Coming from a Harvard family, she had her doubts about Princeton.
“We want our child to have the very best education, one that will mold him for great things. Can you assure me that he will do well here?” she demanded.
“Madam,” said Wilson mildly, “we guarantee satisfaction, or we return the boy.”
In a more serious address to a parents’ group, Wilson had the courage to say: “I get many letters from you parents about your children. You want to know why we people up here in Princeton can’t make more out of them and do more for them. Let me tell you the reason we can’t. It may shock you a little, but I am not trying to be rude. The reason is that they are your sons, reared in your homes, blood of your blood, bone of your bone. They have absorbed the ideals of your homes. You have formed and fashioned them. They are your sons. In those malleable years of their lives you have forever left your imprint upon them.”
Wilson’s words are, of course, a reminder that education is not a mechanical thing, like putting money into a vending machine. There are sensitive variables at work in a Christian school. Much does hinge upon the dedication and Christian example of the faculty.
The students also play a role. Teachers cannot study, learn, obey or sit still for the students. These little Christians are just learning to fight the good fight against their own sinful natures. The prescription for that is the proper application of law and gospel to their young hearts.
But Wilson put his finger on the key role of fathers and mothers. The Christian school is a handmaiden to the Christian home. It is not a replacement. “Fathers…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” says Paul. Only when Christian schools, parents and children are on the same wave length do Solomon’s words come to pass: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).