Any sane person consuming news media during this first half of 2020 is likely to feel discouraged right about now. A pandemic would be more than enough to cast a pall over any year, but the response to the pandemic of 2020—politicized as it has been—has in some ways been worse than the virus itself. Add to all that uncertainty the civil unrest of recent days and the surprising Supreme Court rulings of last week, and we have more than enough reasons to think all is lost.
I met the most amazing young woman last week. She is a graduate of Baylor’s Honors College, specifically the Great Texts program, and is two years into her teaching career at Live Oak Classical School in Waco, Texas. It is not uncommon for classical educators to meet at conferences in the summer, but coronavirus has cancelled any such opportunities for the summer of 2020. Fortunately, this young lady is the niece of a Trinitas parent and was present at a social gathering to which I had been invited.
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 reading the Word, praying, and going to church because those are things we do together as families. We can demand from them, and then hold them accountable to, living like a Christian should live, 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?
One of the most important elements for successful gardening is rich, fertile soil. Plants cannot flourish in bad soil, but they do thrive in good soil. Last summer we set up a container garden at the school. Our generous patron for that project, Mr. Dave DeBlander, insisted upon our having good soil from the start. “That is the secret sauce,” he insisted, and he is right. No plant can reach its potential without excellent nutrients for the all-important root system. The soil is the beginning of everything for the plant.
The same can be said about growing children—they need good soil if they are going to thrive. Well, not soil exactly, but its equivalent. The environment children grow up in—their home, church, and school—is for them what soil is for plants. It is either good soil or bad soil. They either thrive or wither. A lot goes into preparing good soil, but ultimately, the best way to know if the soil is good or bad is to evaluate the harvest—ask, “How did the kid turn out?”
Throughout the ages Christian monks have cloistered to free themselves from the ungodly influence of the outside world. The seclusion and the freedom from the day-to-day rat race provided them increased opportunity for study and prayer that was not otherwise available. That tradition gave us some fine scholarly work in areas as diverse as Christian doctrine and agriculture. Indeed, Western Christian thought and heritage was preserved by such cloistering. In our age of mega schools and assembly line secular education, I want to suggest that Christian children can benefit from the cloister-like atmosphere at a small classical Christian school.
One question parents should ask themselves is, “What do I really want from my child’s education?” This question is the first one parents should ask when enrolling their children in school for the first time, but it is also a good question to come back to each year. It is easy to think that we have to follow the same educational pattern that we grew up in or that everyone around us accepts as normal, but the truth is, we have options. In fact, never before have we had so many options in education, so parents are in the driver’s seat like never before. With so many options available, a few clarifying questions are in order:
One of the toughest days for parents is their child’s first day of school. The event is especially difficult for mom. Let’s face it, there is something unsettling about handing your child over to a group of strangers who take her behind locked doors where you are not free to follow. Whew! The first day of school leaves more than a few moms feeling, well, is guilty the word I’m looking for here? One begins to wonder while driving away from the school, just what is the parents’ place in education.
If you have stumbled upon this blog, there is a good chance you are trying to make a decision about your child’s education. Should you send her to a public school like most everyone else you know, or should you spring for a Christian school? Make no mistake, this is one of the two or three most important decisions you will ever make. No pressure, right? If you are a Christian, there are a lot of reasons you should consider a Christian education over a secular one. Here are three that top my list.