Classical education is not just a lifeboat


If recent trends continue, more and more parents will decide to withdraw their children from public schools. Onerous pandemic protocols combined with an authoritarian ideology have already forced many families out of school systems across the country. At the same time, teachers find themselves looking for new jobs, discouraged by disrespectful students, disengaged parents, and intrusive administrators. American public education is a sinking ship, and people are hitting the lifeboats. Christian schools, homeschooling, co-ops, hybrid models, parochial academies, and mainstream schools are likely to benefit from a surge of new students and teachers. Many of these newcomers may have already looked unfavorably on those who chose not to attend public school due to conservative Christian beliefs. But they aren’t anymore – they’re now playing catch-up.

These newcomers are welcome, but they must realize that going back in time a decade or two will not solve the fundamental problems that have given way to the radical sexual ideologies peddled to kindergartners. The errors are quite deep and last for a long time. Alternative Schooling Models Challenge Common Public School Values generational segregation, (simply) quantitative tests, discrete subjects, ever-changing fads in educational “technique”, the relegation of “religion” as a mere subject (which is a form of secularization) and demanding teacher certification. Many of these aspects derive from the Prussian model of education, which was zealously adopted and promulgated by American educational reformers. The goal was to makeskilled factory workers, but not free thinkers or innovators.” Of course, “free thought” today includes traditional Christian doctrine and morals. In the case of the classic liberal arts, many American parents assume that a good education relies on standardized tests and the pursuit of high scores, all to earn a certificate that tells employers that a young person is employable and deserves stable employment. . This, of course, is not education. It is often a simple hoop jump.

The main purpose of education should not be to earn money. It shouldn’t be about self-actualization or courtesy. It should not be good citizenship, however defined. It should be wisdom and virtue. These two universal goods justify the sacrifices of time, effort and money, because they are universal and good in themselves. Kingdoms rise and fall, constitutions change, economies explode and collapse. In all these times, in all these seasons, a person needs wisdom and virtue for himself and for others, and he is richly blessed by the wisdom and virtue of his fellow men. The kind of person he is – his substance – matters most. Prosperous and civilized people may be pleasant to be around, but they are not as necessary or eternally significant as the saint. Classical educators consider it their duty to lead a student from darkness to light – to the enlightenment of wisdom and virtue. These same teachers realize that sometimes the horse doesn’t drink when led into the water, but at least his parents and teachers loved him enough to make the effort.

Classical educators consider it their duty to lead a student from darkness to light – to the enlightenment of wisdom and virtue.

Other goods such as patriotism, diligence and chivalry also spring from this source. But virtue and wisdom are paramount, and they cannot be separated from questions of God, objective reality, or the long talk of human civilization. Indeed, liberal arts students soon find themselves immersed in a millennial tradition, reading Livy in the original Latin or pondering loyalty with Beowulf. Leisure is not for passive entertainment, it is for the pursuit of human excellence and worthwhile pursuits, the stuff of humanity and civilization. Likewise, virtue is not about vague “character matters” clichés – it is about piety, courage, faith and charity that spring from our eternal Creator and Redeemer.

Why is this important? Because, at the moment, many parents are urgently looking for alternatives. They can land on a classic Christian school as their lifeboat of choice. But it’s not a lifeboat. Classical education is best seen as an arch.

Classical schools across the country are now the stewards, guardians and champions of the great tradition. American public education has exiled its own heritage via the “cannon wars», Mammon-obsessed pragmatism, irreligious secularism, hyper-specialization and haughty progressivism that mocks permanent truth and the kind of life that such truth demands. By separating from such a foundation, the house of public instruction finds itself in quicksand. It will not withstand a deluge – perhaps the very social upheavals we are currently experiencing as a nation. Such schools have rejected God, the way of life he has provided and the knowledge he has provided over millennia of wise human voices.

But these voices will remain. A growing archipelago of academies, homeschool groups, religious schools and colleges are rising to carry the torch. There will be growing pains as Parents, administrators, teachers, and
discard the fatal errors that have taken root in our minds and our society. Yet the classical school is seaworthy, and its revival is one of the most promising developments of our time.


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