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.
We are continuing our series intended to remind what the goals of classical Christian education are, why those goals are good for the world, and how we pursue the goals of classical Christian education at Trinitas. I began this series with a metaphor about traveling and the questions one might ask oneself while traveling on a particular journey. Continuing that metaphor, now I set out to answer the question how do we get there? This is a big question, and it will take time to unpack even the merest tip of the iceberg.
We are now in the middle of Thanksgiving week, perhaps the greatest of purely American holidays. And it is a holiday born of good intention in that it is noble to set aside a whole day for giving thanks to God for His provision for us. As Christians, we would do well to remember that we should be thankful every day, should live lives of thanksgiving before God, for every breath we take comes to us as a providence of our good and loving God.
Last week Trinitas Christian School held its “Love Thy Neighbor – Great Day of Giving” event. It was only our second year for this event, but I hope it is one that Trinitas will continue and even build upon long after I am gone. About 250 students, teachers, parents, and alumni descended on the Pensacola community to tackle service projects that ranged from stocking food pantries and soup kitchens, to performing maintenance tasks at foster care facilities, to cleaning up neglected yards for the elderly. It was a great day, and Trinitas folks returned to school at the end of the day happy and blessed.
Struggle is among the most important elements in the learning process. Learning a new thing—whether Greek, knitting, or fly-tying—is hard work and requires some pain if it is to be done well. Think of it this way: after learning something new, one is not the same person he was before he learned the new thing; he has undergone a metamorphosis. That process of change necessarily comes with some struggle and pain.
(Trinitas faculty member Mr. Sean Johnson addressed these comments to the graduating class of 2020 at Commencement Exercises on May 29, 2020.)
"Good evening to the board of governors, faculty and staff, families of graduates, and to the 2019-2020 graduating class.
I have always wondered just what it would take for someone to ask me to give a commencement speech. I imagined myself much older, with a long career to look back on, several published books to my name, maybe an online cult following of homeschool moms and a few English teachers who would railroad their administrator into inviting me to speak to their graduates….
All it really took, though, was some poor unfortunate soul on the other side of the planet eating a bowl of tainted bat soup and sparking a global pandemic that would force all life and commerce in America to a grinding halt thus preventing the real commencement speaker from traveling to Florida. I feel like I should have seen that one coming…
Having said that, I am superlatively honored to be here, and I want to thank Mr. Gilley and the Board of Governors for the opportunity to address this class.
Graduation is such a special time in the life of young adults. In the present age it has become arguably the most important rite of passage into adulthood. Eighteen-year-olds across the nation stand on a threshold: thirteen or more years of compulsory schooling is behind them, and the whole world lies ahead. Education, career, marriage, everything is ahead of them, and finally they get to make their own decisions about where to go and what to do.
One of the mantras of classical Christian education is “repair the ruins.” The line comes from John Milton, that seventeenth century English poet and intellectual who wrote the classic, Paradise Lost. Milton wrote on a host of other topics, including education, and once wrote,
“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him.”
The classical educator sees himself as a servant in this labor, a guide to his students. But repairing the ruins and redeeming truth, goodness, and beauty which has been lost by our culture is not confined to the classroom.