Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday thought: Beware Classical-Christian-Education-in-a-Box

I am often asked, "What is classical education?"  And truly, the definition is a bit challenging to state succinctly.  In my own mind, as I consider the ideal education, I cannot separate classical from Christian education, though a classical education that is non-Christian is still more resonant with Christian principles than the progressive garbage that sometimes passes as Christian education today. 

Classical Christian education involves nurturing the virtues of godliness (primarily beauty, goodness, truth, justice, mercy, freedom, and wisdom) so that one may live a life that glorifies God and live eternally to enjoy Him forever.  It leans heavily on the content of great sages of the past, and applies that wisdom to the current age. It is more about the mentoring relationship between elder and pupil than it is about curriculum, though the curriculum must lead the student towards becoming the type of person mentioned above.   It is about learning to develop one's God-given gifts, and to apply them in God's economy in this world.  Its goal is to understand the nature of both God and man, and act in reality with wisdom and grace.

If you find a "Classical-Curriculum-in-a-Box", especially one that tries to sell you on its ease of use, realize it cannot be classical at all.  No worthy or noble thing is ever bought without price.  It is tough and painful to grow in good things.  Without struggling to understand challenging ideas and straining to learn disciplines that are difficult to master, no wisdom can be gained. And to quote my favorite "classical" movie, anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell something. In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head; and that elevation is not accomplished by capillary attraction, but only by the hard work of climbing up ropes, with sore hands and aching muscles.
~Mortimer Adler, “Invitation to the Pain of Learning”

No comments: