A Back to the Future School

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.Copernicus

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 lovelyHowever, 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.

An Advent Test

magnified snowflakeEvery Advent, I re-read My Soul Magnifies the Lord by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  The backstory of his meditations on Christmas springs from Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also with child.  When Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, the child inside her leaps.   Mary, knowing she is expecting the Son of God, cannot contain the joy in her heart.  The church refers to her song as the Magnificat. It’s found in Luke 1:46-55.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior… Luke 1:46

Mary clearly distinguishes between her spirit and her soul.  The oneness of the spirit and soul or the uniqueness of each has occupied theologians for ages. Lloyd-Jones sees the two as distinct.

The spirit, he writes, represents a perception that is different from knowledge.   “The spirit is a compartment, as it were, of the soul that enables one to appreciate the unseen and the spiritual.”  When the angel Gabriel brings astonishing news to Mary, she can’t get her head around it.

“How can this be?”

Yet, her spirit perceives that the message from God is good and right and she accepts what her mind can’t explain.  In her submission to what her spirit perceives, Mary’s soul locks onto and zeroes in on God.  Everything else is cropped out of the picture, and Mary’s soul becomes as an IMAX projector of the presence of God.  God is magnified to degrees that even the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaps at the sound of Mary’s voice.  And the souls of Elizabeth and the yet-unborn John the Baptist enter into a fellowship of worship and joy.

Lloyd-Jones suggests such a capacity to worship resides in the spirit, He sees the soul as, “the way in which we correspond to one another and have fellowship and relationship”.  I confess I stumble through the theological weeds that pastors love to camp in, but with a little reflection on the words of Mary, I learn that there is a knowledge that goes beyond what the brain can understand.  When the spiritual and unseen are perceived by the spirit, the soul lights up and engages everything and everyone around it.

As a teacher, applications flood my imagination.  Of course we communicate information to our students’ minds.  Even Google does that.  We can even assess it via pencil marks in little bubble sheets.

But, as a Christian teacher, I also get to see my students’ spirits rejoice in the Lord as it dawns on them how God created and keeps the world operating in the palm of His hand. The “Aha!” moments spring from perceiving His lordship over the events of history, the construct of language, the unity of math and science,  the relational truths of honesty and kindness toward other people at recess, during lunches together, and on the sports fields.

Magnifying the Lord, however, is something beyond the wonder moments of perception. Do my students magnify the Lord? In all honesty, it is rare in their formative years.  I’ve only seen a life that magnifies the Lord in the students who go on in life to make a difference for Christ in their generation.  These students, in a variety of professions, introduce others to Christ and are able to influence outcomes in their community for good through their wisdom and excellence, whether it’s at the HOA level or in more visible arenas.

Of course we get delightful glimpses of this in the classroom. We see it in Bible classes when hard issues become easy issues as the children see the intensely personal love of the Father for His children; as they see how He lets nothing get in the way of fulfilling His promises.  Their fearful doubts flee as they exhale for the first time in a right understanding of Scripture.

We see it in history and literature as they study the creation accounts, literature, history, world views and mythologies of pagan societies.  They see cultures who desperately try to explain phenomena that only Israel had explained to them from the patriarchs and prophets of old, and only Christians understand rightly from the teachings of Christ and Scripture.

We see it as they read the medieval writers and accounts of great kings who thought great thoughts of God and heroically lived by them.  Our students’ minds are informed, but their soul is fellowships with the David, Paul, Dante, and Alfred the Great. Even young spirits perceive the unseen and the spiritual.

To use Lloyd-Jones’ explanation, Mary “has a realization of something that, she says, has touched her in the very center of the most vital part of her personality.”  That is the effect on a soul that sees some new aspect of God for the first time.

No, we can’t test for such things with bubble sheets read by computers, but we can ask questions like this. How you would fill in these blanks about your children?

My (child’s) soul doth magnify __________________,
My (his/her) spirit rejoices in ___________________.

This could be encouraging or sobering. Now take out the parentheses and answer the question again.

May we all magnify the Lord to those around us this Advent season, and may all our spirits rejoice in God, our Savior!


Jeanette Faulkner teaches 7th Grade at Grace Classical Christian Academy

It’s the Great Reformers, Charlie Brown!

Mention October 31st to many Protestants and they become animated about Halloween – candy, costumes, and the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Ask about Reformation Day and too often the only thing animated is the sound of crickets in the extended silence.

We are a Protestant school and the majority of our students worship at Protestant churches.  However, before we study the middle ages, I often ask children to tell me about Martin Luther.   At least one student will ask, “You mean Martin Luther King?”

Tomorrow, October 31st, is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther, a young monk, nailing 95 statements to a church door iMartin Luthern Wittenberg, Germany.  He hoped to start a discussion among University of Wittenberg theologians the serious concerns he had over church doctrine and practices.  Little did he know the sparks from his hammer lit a fire that would result in the Protestant Reformation.

The effects were so far-reaching that the Protestant faith of the American colonists was a major reason Edmund Burke cautioned the British Parliament in 1775 to pursue peace with the colonies and not war.

“Religion, always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the most averse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a persuasion not only favorable to liberty, but built upon it.”  Speech on Conciliation with America [1]

This is a classic example of the Church impacting the world around it. Here is how it happened.

The pope was raising money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by selling indulgences to the people.  Depending on the amount you paid, you could have your sins forgiven, or hasten the release of dead relatives from purgatory.  (If you see a problem here, it’s because you have the Bible in your language. Hold onto that thought.)

Between emperors extracting taxes for political wars, and the church shaking down parishioners for Rome’s grandeur and poorly-run crusades, the people were locked into a painful poverty. Complicating their plight was a high rate of illiteracy; those who could read had only the Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome in 380.  The people in the pew only knew what the priests told them, or stories depicted in stained glass and statues.

A distraught Luther searched the Scriptures to seek how God could justify such insufferable corruption.  He found the answer in Scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-9.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

He started publishing cartoon-like booklets which rocketed to #1 on the Medieval Times Best Seller List.  He mocked the corruption of Rome and informed the people that salvation comes by faith alone in the saving work of Christ on the cross.

Eventually, Luther translated the Bible from the original texts into common German. Nothing would be the same again.

Getting the Scriptures into the languages of the common man was of paramount importance to Luther and other reformers in Europe.  For example, John Wycliffe oversaw the translation of the Vulgate into Middle English 140 years earlier.  By 1536, William Tyndale had translated the New Testament from the original languages into English.

None of these men had official permission to translate God’s word because those in power knew the Bible in the people’s hands would deal a severe blow to their power.  They were so upset with Wycliffe that 43 years after he died officials dug up his body, burned his bones, and threw the ashes into the river!

As Luther’s pamphlets flooded Germany, it wasn’t long before the Pope summoned him to an assembly in Worms, Germany.  He would appear before Emperor Charles V and church officials.  At that trial, he was asked to recant his writings.  The hall was packed. The crowd hushed to hear his response.  He asked that each of his writings be read and shown how they contradicted Scripture. He said:

Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning, then I cannot and will not recant; because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience… Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

The Reformation impacted not only the Christian church, but through the sons of the reformation the ripple effects reached the shores of America.  It became, as Edmund Burke said, our foundation for liberty, the liberty of people to worship untouched by tyrants civil or religious.  And that is why we should remember the Reformation on October 31st Charlie Brown.

Jeanette Faulkner teaches 7th Grade at Grace Classical Christian Academy

[1] http://www.constitution.org/primarysources/burke.html


Parent Academy

blog post 4The term “Achilles’ Heel” comes from the ancient story of the great Greek warrior, Achilles, and his mother, Thetis. Concerned for his well  being, she took him to the protective waters of the River Styx and dipped the child into the river holding onto him by one heel.  He would be immune to wounds everywhere the water touched him.  His one point of vulnerability was his heel.  He fought many battles unharmed until he was struck in the heel by an arrow and died soon afterward.

“Achilles’ Heel” has come to describe a point of weakness despite overall strength, a tragic weakness which can lead to one’s downfall.

In classical and Christian education, our Achilles’ Heel is the lack of excellent education we as parents and teachers have received.  We passed each successive grade in school, but can we therefore claim to be educated?   Dr. George Grant, a pillar in the classical and Christian education community, looked back on his education and made this proclamation, “We have been robbed!”

Modern schools abandoned the Trivium, the classical methodology of teaching.  So-called experts persuaded modern parents and teachers to lower expectations of what children are capable of learning.  As a result, we aided and abetted the robbery of our students’ inheritance, the type of education God meant for children to receive.  We must come alongside our children to recover what God has called them to do.  Our children also have an occupation, a vocation to be students.  This is what they dress for each morning.  This is why they work diligently to memorize history chants, Bible verses and catechisms.  This is where they are trained in the tools of their trade as student explorers of the world God holds in the palm of His hand. Classical and Christian teachers and parents are restoring the firm foundation on which to build a house, a foundation that will not shift underneath their children as they grow.

Three times a year, GCCA parents serve their children by learning what it means to be educated classically and biblically.  October 9th is the first Parent Academy of this school year.  As they gather for the third year of Academy meetings, they will soon share with you what they are learning about how to raise up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ceaselessly pray that a new day is coming in which those of us with our Achilles’ heels will hand it all over to future generations who have been completely immersed in the springs of Living Water!

Bruce Williams is the Headmaster of Grace Classical Christian Academy in Granbury, Texas.

Ye Olde Deluder Satan Law

Ye olde deluder lawThe second education law in America was published in 1647.  It was titled, Ye Olde Deluder Satan Law.  The authors remembered that before the Reformation, the church kept the Scriptures in Latin so that only priests could interpret them for the common people.  Never again would these grandchildren of the Reformation let the Scriptures become so remote to future generations.  Reading the Bible was a vital defense against that old deluder, Satan.

Although spelling rules, as we know them, were different then, you should be able to follow this original source. Sometimes the “y” is used as “th”.

It being one chiefe project of ye ould deluder, Satan, to keepe men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures, as in former times by keeping ym in an unknown tongue, so in these lattr times by perswading from ye use of tongues, yt so at least ye true sence & meaning of the original might be clouded by false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers, yt leaning may not be buried in ye grave of or fathrs in ye church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors…

Here’s the back story.  In the seven years since the pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower onto Plymouth Rock, they were busy building homes, common meeting areas, planting fields, and establishing businesses and trades.  That Puritan work ethic created prosperity, to be sure. However, to their horror, it became evident the children’s education was being neglected by too many fathers whose prosperity was devouring faithfulness. To quote one of their pastors, Cotton Mather,

“Faithfulness begat prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother.”

Five years before the Olde Deluder Satan Law, Massachusetts passed the first education law in the colonies, The Massachusetts School Law of 1642.  This legislation reprimanded parents who were “not training up their children in learning”.  Every town was ordered to choose men “appointed to manage these prudential affairs and to be charged with the redress of this evil”.

Fines would be imposed upon the negligent.  An account would be taken from time to time of the children, “especially of their ability to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of the country”.  The families of the community were to pay and oversee the school managers and provide school materials.  Each time the magistrate came to town, he was given an accounting of the progress of the children.

The follow-up Ye Olde Deluder Satan Law was written to make even clearer the town fathers’ plan to keep school districts local and small, and to make sure no one misunderstood their reason for passing both of these laws – children must never become unable to read for themselves the “principles of religion and the laws”.

They knew the chief end of Satan is to keep men from reading the Bible.  This was the most dangerous threat they saw to their colony’s existence and well-being – that the next generation would lose the “true sense and meaning of God’s word and fall prey to the deceptions of seeming-saints”.

Other New England states followed the example of Massachusetts within the next generation. Six generations later, their concerns about Ye Olde Deluder Satan have proven to be well-founded.

(These source documents can be found in Documents of American History, Henry Steele Commager, editor, as published by F.S. Crofts & Co., New York, in 1934. There are a few hard back editions left on internet sites.  Crofts and Co. was sold in 1948 to become Appleton Century Crofts.)

Jeanette Faulkner teaches 7th grade at Grace Classical Christian Academy.

Separating Christian School From Christian Education

Do you remember where you were on 9/11? It was as though time stopped that morning.  It took our collective breath away.  It was terrible in the extreme.

Do you remember where you were the first time you understood – really understood – what classical Christian education is?   As a homeschool mom in 1993, it took my breath away.  Time stopped as I saw my once-impressive Christian curriculum dwarfing in comparison before my eyes.  It was wonderful in the extreme.  Could such a thing exist for my children?

Surprisingly, the overwhelming realization of how much our family’s lives would change didn’t make us shrink back; rather we picked up speed and jumped right into the deep water.  That is, after all, where all the fun is.

If it was like this for you, it was not the word “rigor” that got you. It wasn’t even the Latin or Logic or catchy little memory ditties.  It was the idea that in everything children learn to see Christ’s hand in every subject.

Before this epiphany, we thought a school was Christian if most of the grammar sentences involved either Paul or Moses; and little children who were often asked, “Who made this?” answered in unison with a loud and confident, “GOD made it!”  Throw in a chapel and prayer each morning and that was a Christian school to me.

However, after reading Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson and Repairing the Ruins from Canon Press, my husband and I realized we had been looking for a Christian school, but longing to give our children a Christian education.

The word, “education” comes from the Latin root, ducere, which means to lead, as in leading someone out of darkness or ignorance into light.  “School” comes from the Greek, skhole, which could be translated as philosophy or a place where lectures are given.  See the difference?

By the middle of the 20th century, Christians would never admit it out loud, but they were faced with a choice between a modern public school and a mediocre Christian school. How did that happen?

To oversimplify a complex answer, 20th century Christians were lured away from their roots like Pinocchio to the Island of Lost Boys – with the same outcome. The industrial and modern eras spawned an idea that children could be run through grades K-12 like cars on an assembly line.  Screw these bolts to the chassis in first grade, weld these nuts onto the drive shaft in second grade, etc., and at the end of the line of  assembled facts, one gets a shiny Model T ready to drive away from Squaresville and experience the world!  It was an easy sell to parents in a rapidly-changing world enticed by the newest new thing.

But, God is good. Like dry bones that rise again, He has called a remnant of Christians who understand that the same Christ who was the Word in the beginning of Genesis 1:1 is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us in John 1:14. In Him is light and His light is the light of men.

Over the past three decades this remnant has sacrificed money, careers, and time to begin schools that classically educate the next generation of the Church.  So it is at GCCA where students are being led out of darkness to see Christ as the One who always has and always will hold all things together in the palm of His hand and who does all things excellently.  Our prayer is that these children will become like Jesus as the Holy Spirit works through the ministry of wise Christian parents, skillful Christian teachers, and the teaching of sound doctrine from faithful pastors.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Let’s pick up speed and jump into the deep water together, rejoicing because this is where the fun truly is!

Jeanette Faulkner teaches 7th grade at Grace Classical Christian Academy.

A Different Kind of Peculiar

by Jeanette Faulkner

Words fail any attempted description of Granbury, Texas  – beautiful among Texas cities, delightful as a recreation and entertainment getaway, people who are welcoming and fun.  This doesn’t help Austin friends when I tell them I teach in Granbury.  They just smile pitifully and say, “well, bless your heart”.  Dallas friends seem incredulous and ask,  “You mean Grand Prairie, right?”  To the big city fellas, those of us who choose Granbury on purpose are peculiar, much like Christians are peculiar to people living outside Christendom.

The Bible says they are right.

However, we are a different kind of peculiar. Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, describes us in 1 Peter 2:9.  The King James Version says it best:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Although God’s word never changes, language does.  Therefore, modern translations render “peculiar” as “chosen for His possession”.  We are peculiar people in the midst of the blob of humanity.  God always sets His children apart as His possession, and indeed blesses our hearts.

How does this relate to Grace Classical Christian Academy in Granbury? In the past year, two of Granbury’s leading residents told me they sense God’s hand moving here. Something eternal is afoot. They also think GCCA is right in the middle of the palm of His hand. Are you thinking what I am? “Yes! I sense that too!”

Those of us in the GCCA community are peculiar. We are odd to those who cannot understand why we’d send our children to this little portable with no cafeteria, gym, computers, or fancy playground stuff. How will these kids ever get into UT?  Actually graduates from classical Christian schools have not only entered Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, and other top tier schools; they’ve also graduated from them.  That, however, is not the yardstick of peculiar people. The real measure is whether they graduated as the men of Issachar:

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.     1Chronicles  12:32

Truly peculiar people make a difference for God in their generation and bless the nations in which they live.

We are training our students to measure themselves not by worldly yardsticks, but by understanding how to think, move, and breathe in the real world of a chosen, royal, holy people who have been called out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of His kingdom here and now.  Each week we will highlight how God is working in the midst of peculiar teachers and the children of peculiar parents.  Hopefully, it will help you show friends that you are not sheltering your children from the “real world”;  rather, you have chosen Grace because it is the real world.

Jeanette Faulkner teaches 7th Grade at GCCA.