Last week’s post was the first in a series about the “Good Soil” survey that will run over the next few weeks. The survey, conducted by the University of Notre Dame and Cardus, reports on alumni from all types of schools. These are alumni who grew up in Christian families and are now between the ages of 24 and 42. Alumni from classical Christian schools, especially ACCS accredited schools like Trinitas, will be our focus. Two areas the survey measures in alumni are Christian commitment and Christian lifestyle, our focus this week.As Christian parents, our most important aim is to see our children walking with the Lord all the days of their lives. When they live under our roof, we can see to it that they are engaged in the Christian Faith, living like a Christian should live, and practicing Christianity. At some point, however, a child has to take ownership of his own faith. At some point it is not only the God of his fathers, but it has to be his God too, his Lord and Savior. Have you ever considered what role the school plays in that?
Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying, “I pay the schoolmaster, but ‘tis the school boys that educate my son.” That is a frightening thought that rings with some truth, thus reinforcing the importance of sending your children to a school where the other families value the same things you value. In spite of Emerson’s quip, what is being practiced and taught in the school are even more important. A school that does not go against but instead reinforces and builds upon what children learn about the Christian faith at home and at church is far more likely to help you prepare your child for a lifetime of Christian living. But how do you know which school will do that?
Just as plants need good soil in which to grow, children also need good soil—a rich environment to mature in. As it turns out, the schools with the good soil are classical Christian Schools. One measure of that is the fact that alumni from these schools continue in the faith long after leaving home.
In fact, the Good Soil Survey shows that alumni from classical Christian schools like Trinitas are about twice as likely to regularly attend church and small groups, to read their Bibles regularly, and to volunteer at church than alumni from other Christian schools or homeschools. When compared to alumni of secular schools, alumni of ACCS schools are about six times more likely to remain committed to the practices of Christianity. Remember, all those surveyed, whether at secular or Christian schools, were from Christian families.
Is that a guarantee that every kid who graduates from a classical Christian school is going to be a steadfast Christian when he leaves home? No. But there is tremendous value in being steeped in the Word and the rich history and tradition of the Christian Faith every day at school.
Again, alumni from ACCS schools are almost twice as likely to live lifestyles that accord with their faith as alumni from other Christian schools or homeschools, and five times more likely than alumni of secular schools. These classical Christian alums respect church authority and give to the church. They also exhibit moral standards consistent with orthodox Christianity; for example, they are less likely to be divorced or separated after marriage, and less likely to cohabitate before marriage. They are also more likely to volunteer outside their church and for more hours.
Why the disparity between alumni from classical Christian schools and other forms of Christian schooling? What is the difference? Practices and curricula make a big difference. At Trinitas we aspire to what we call a Christ-centered model, that is, all things hold together in Christ. There is no field of study, no pursuit, no knowledge or understanding or wisdom outside of Christ’s dominion. We approach everything we do with that truth firmly in mind. We also start every school day together reading and memorizing God’s word, confessing the creeds of the Faith, singing Psalms and hymns, and praying the prayers handed down by Christ’s Church through the ages. We begin our first classes of the day with the Proverb of the day, and end the day together with a Proverb and the “Doxology.” We hold God’s word as our standard for living and hold ourselves accountable to it. When these practices are in accord with what happens in a student’s home and church, they become part of the fabric of his being.
The curricula of classical Christian schools develop a unique perspective for students. Students who learn the history of the world from beginning to present day—and largely through primary sources and classical literature—understand that they are made of the same flesh and bone as Adam and Eve. The history of the Christian Faith, and especially of the church down through the ages, is not only neglected in schools but also in our churches. At classical Christian schools, however, students learn the history of their faith. These students gain a historical context for their existence and a foundation for their faith that helps them see themselves and their place in the world with an enviable clarity.
Next week we will take a look at the profile that addresses college and career preparedness as we work our way through the “Good Soil” survey. If you are the parent of a classical Christian student, I hope you are encouraged by what we’ve discovered so far. If you are a Christian parent looking for a school for your child, and you value a commitment to Christianity and living that shows evidence of the faith, I invite you to visit Trinitas.