by Jeanette Faulkner
As one patriarch of modern classical Christian education said of our generation, “We were robbed!”
Regardless of the kind – prep, Christian, or government school — we and our parents were robbed.
Since the 19th century, secular classical prep schools have cranked out Latin-speaking, hollow-chested intellectuals.
During the same era, Christian schools took up the banner of anti-intellectualism and ceded the top-performer ranks to the secularists.
Meanwhile, the government schools changed the language of everything; making revolutionary atrocities sound like the soul of all that is good. Traditional practices that produced the best education in the world were jettisoned for progressive “best practices” – those without a smidgen of reference to the one, true, Creator God.
We’ve been robbed.
Few feel more robbed than the parents of current classical Christian school students. Parents feel robbed as they help their children with homework and learn important facts and ideas for the first time. They feel it as their teenagers shockingly respond well to godly discipline. They feel it when young children, in everyday situations, come out with spontaneous wisdom from Scripture or history.
However, the rise of classical Christian schools is neither a competitive nor a critical response to modern schooling. Classical Christian schools are in demand with parents who caught a glimpse of education as it was in the best of times and what it should be as taught in God’s Word.
We are educators and parents who are recovering the lost tools of learning that produced the great scholars, scientists, legal minds, governments, economies, preachers, tradesmen, and artisans of western civilization. For 1800 years, insight into how the real world operates was unthinkable apart from the Creator. Happily, we now have schools that see no obstacle to regaining what was taken from us.
To adapt a quote from Robert Kennedy,
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that were, and ask why not again?
Some people visit our school and leave because of what they see.
- Small Enrollment: Our student body is like our kindergarteners, not as little as we were a few years ago, and not as big as we will be if God continues to be gracious to us. Such people don’t see how smaller classes enable teachers to be continually aware of how a student is responding to instruction, to truly listen to each student, and draw them into discussions.
- Small Facilities: No college-level science lab, no high school sports stadium, no computer lab gifted by Microsoft? They can’t imagine that outside of P.E. and some pick-up basketball and soccer at lunch, outdoor creative play and natural instincts to run non-stop during recesses produces fit kids who play sports on city teams. How could they imagine that science teachers can train students how to observe, inquire, analyze, and test the theories and principles with simple resources? Students learn how to learn.
- No marching band or Les Mis size stage: A Broadway stage for school plays and symphonic performances of the Messiah would be lovely. However, in these formative years of our school culture, we are laying a foundation; namely, a deep love for and ability to enter into beautiful music. All of us are learning to read music and sing beautiful hymns and Psalms as we grow into four-part harmonies. Our art teacher uses classical techniques to draw some truly arresting work out of our young artists.
- State-certified faculty: A teaching degree from a state university involves some serious re-training, so we look for teachers who are accomplished in their disciplines, love children, live out a biblical worldview, and are able to communicate truth in terms each age group can comprehend.
Others visit our school and stay because of what they see.
- A God-centered education: In everything our students study, they are trained to see wonderful things God has done, how everything – literally everything – is held together in the palm of His hand. They see what God is – truth, goodness, beauty and excellence.
- An education with the grace of God at the core: The commandments of God are presented as a covenant blessing. As author and educator Doug Wilson puts it, God’s word isn’t presented as a list of do’s and don’ts like a plaque on a wall, rather as a window through which we see a world full of good things that proceed from our Father.
- Moral direction: Each school-yard tussle, each act of disrespect, each dishonest statement is answered with a trip into the Bible, an expectation to take personal responsibility for one’s actions, and a path to reconciliation with God and one another. Twelve years of this kind of training in the home and at school has and will produce morally fit leaders for the next generation.
- Training for the battle: Classical education does not shy away from the study of ancient cultures or modern idols in high rebellion against God. Our students learn the soft side of the underbelly of the lies they will encounter in life and how to use the tools of a Gospel that kills dragons and sets captives free.
Merely complaining about why schools are so bad is useless. But if seeing what once was excellent and can be again makes you ask, “Why not?”, then it’s time you visit us as we enroll new students for the coming year.
Mrs. Faulkner teaches 7th Grade at Grace Classical Christian Academy in Granbury, Texas.