17:16 Wasted Education

Seal of the University of Paris.

Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he has no heart for it?

As an older adult returning to school to pick up some skills, I notice that many of the youngsters seem serious about education. But there is a large subgroup attending for other reasons. Some have come to play. Others to find a mate. Still others seek reinforcement for ideas they have already picked up, or the chance to organize others around an ideal. Returning students, as a whole, seem more determined to get their money’s worth.

This generation is no different in that respect than others. I noted the same tendencies when I was in college as a teenager. Perhaps a rich father was footing the bill of the wastrel—or the government. That is why I like the New Living Translation for this verse. “It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning.”

Wasted educational opportunities are not a problem limited to our time. Accounts of roistering, rioting, and recklessness crop up with fair frequency in the histories of great educational institutions. For example, the St. Scholastica Day riot at Oxford in 1355 began with a dispute over beer. It left 63 scholars and half as many townsfolk dead. A Shrove Tuesday strike in Paris in 1229 also began over drink—a tavern bill. Angry students smashed businesses with wooden clubs. In retaliation, city guards cornered and killed a group of students.

We have no record that Christ attended school. However, he had clearly set himself to learn what God the Father desired even while young, as his tough questions to the religious leaders in the temple at twelve years of age showed. At thirty, he became a rabbi (teacher).

His hearers formed a cross-section similar to modern students. Some scoffed. Some listened but went away, forgetting immediately what he said. Others “followed from afar.” A few took his words to heart and became the first Christians, who transformed the world through their master’s power.

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