For the past two weeks I have suggested that Christian parents are called to something different; specifically, they’re called to parent differently in keeping with God’s direction for His people, which necessarily means they’re called to partner with a school that is in line with their parenting (remember, there is no such thing as a neutral education). But it may not be as simple as just sending your child to any old Christian school. You want a school that is in lock step with your church and home, a school that teaches your children how to be Christians out in the wide world. Unfortunately, all Christian education is not the same, and because you want more for your children, I suggest you take a look at classical Christian education.
True, most traditional Christian schools will claim to give your child a Christian “worldview,” but the meaning of the word “worldview” seems to have been somewhat muddled in recent years. Often in traditional Christian schools, students are taught what to think about every issue that comes along. But sometimes the teaching sounds like Christians can do these things but not those things without much explanation of why. Students may leave the school with a Christian worldview, but they may not know why they hold the positions they hold; therefore, when their worldview is challenged by real world scenarios they may not have been trained to think about, it can break down.
On the other hand, a student who is trained how to think Christianly about everything, how to examine his entire range of experience in light of the Scriptures, is not only a student who probably holds a Christian worldview, but is a student who can tell you why he holds the positions he holds. And so those positions will not be shaken easily when the world throws him a moral curve ball.
That is part of the strength of classical Christian schools. They endeavor to teach students how to think and learn for themselves. They ask why and then search for the answers. These schools usually do not fall into the error of instructing students to stick their heads in the sand and pretend the world is not there, but neither do they fall into the error of teaching students to embrace everything the world has to offer by Christianizing it with a fish symbol. What they do is saturate their students with the Scriptures. They don’t treat their faith like a social club they choose to belong to but as a gift from God and a heritage handed down over the past two-thousand years. What it means to be Christian and to live Christianly is not a riddle. We can know not only what to believe but also why we believe it; the answers are available if you know where to look and have the gumption to do so.
Christianity has shaped the entire West, and classical Christian schools teach our Western heritage by taking students back to the original sources instead of to textbooks. Through the reading of ancient works from church fathers and great philosophers, and through the singing of ancient psalms, classical Christian schools connect students to their Christian inheritance so that students understand they are not alone in their Christian beliefs but are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that have walked the path before them for hundreds of years, through hardship and sacrifice and even martyrdom.
Thus armed, classical Christian schools can also work to cultivate Christian virtue in their students by holding up those virtuous Christians who have gone before them. Students can see for themselves that trying to be human apart from the way Scripture instructs us to be human isn’t really being human at all. They learn that living according to the Scriptures takes practice in (and later out of) Christian community. And in classical Christian schools they find such a community to practice in.
So yes, Christian parents should give their children a Christian education—no, they must—but all Christian education isn’t the same. There is something afoot in classical Christian schools across the nation. A brand of Christian education is being offered in such a way that students’ faith isn’t just surviving their education, but is actually being informed, strengthened, and even built by it. What Christian parent would want less? Not you. You want more for your children.
Some of the founders of the classical Christian education resurgence have put together this short film to provide more information on the rise of classical Christian education over the past thirty-five-plus years. The film will cost you about twenty minutes of your life, but it could have an impact on your family that lasts generations.
Mr. Ron Gilley