No matter where we American Christians get our news these days, it seems to forebode the end of the world as we know it. The values many of us were raised with and still cling to are at best a fading part of the American Family’s core values. During the latter third of the twentieth century, a movement was launched that we generally refer to as the “sexual revolution,” and it was predicted to undo society to put it mildly. Whether what we are witnessing now is that undoing or we are being undone by something else is difficult to discern; that we are coming undone, however, seems clear.
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.
Two things are happening in this post. First, we are finishing up our series about the education journey by addressing the question, Is there a better path toward helping our children become virtuous human beings whose lives are surrendered to Christ? Second, and as a way of answering that question, we are kicking off a series about “The Good Soil” report that we endeavored to write a year ago but which was rudely interrupted by COVID-19.
This week we are continuing our series about the goals of classical Christian education and the pathway to reaching them. Last week we started talking in earnest about that pathway. I suggested there are four key elements in the classical Christian model that make up the pathway. This week we take up the third and fourth elements: a structured and orderly learning environment and a Christ-centered community of like-minded families.
Last week I set out to produce a series of articles reminding readers what classical Christian education is by describing what its goals are, why those goals should be valued, and what pursuit of those goals looks like at Trinitas Christian School. I used the metaphor of questions one might ask oneself when embarking on a journey. Last week the question I attempted to answer was where are we going? This week the question is why are we going there? My aim is to illustrate why the goals of classical Christian education are good ones for the people of God to pursue.
Periodically on a journey it is good to pause and ask oneself a few questions, even if only briefly and in one’s own mind, to make sure of being on the right track: Where are we going? Why are we going there? How do we plan to get there? Is this the only route or is there a better path? Parents should ask those questions frequently regarding their vision for their children, and most especially regarding the role education plays in the fulfillment of that vision. We've prepared a video that speaks to the heart of this goal.
In my years associated with classical Christian education—as a parent, donor, school board member, teacher, and headmaster—I have had my share of conversations with folks who want to know why the standards for Christian character and academic diligence are so high, why our students read theology and philosophy and history and literature authored by people who have been dead for 1,000 years or more, and why we focus so intently on writing and speaking and debating. One good answer to such questions is that we do these things in classical Christian education in order to prepare students for just such a time as this.
I have often joked that when my family and I began the adventure of Christian classical education nearly two decades ago, I thought we Americans had invented Christianity in the 17th century. And while that is a bit of an exaggeration, it is no stretch at all to say that I was largely ignorant of my true Christian heritage. I was ignorant of the history of the Church and of exactly what my baptism made me a member.
Like good Christians everywhere, I had read and was reading the Bible. I knew that Christ was the Cornerstone of the Church, that the Apostles were the first elders and missionaries and Church Council. I knew of the Holy Spirit falling in tongues of fire on those gathered on the day of Pentecost, about the appointing of deacons, about breaking bread from house to house, sharing goods among the brethren as each had need, and of Paul’s many journeys to establish and strengthen churches and his subsequent letter-writing to them. What happened between then and the Pilgrims coming to Plymouth, however, was a bit foggy.