Friday, October 07, 2011

Classical Education

The youngest four of the Abell Six are home schooled. We have attempted to teach them using what is commonly called “Classical Education.” Starting in 7th grade, they begin a curricula titled Omnibus.
The modern resurgence of classical and Christian education began with an essay by Dorothy Sayers entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning.” The operative word in that title is tools. Sayers was concerned that our approach to education had become one of stuffing facts into heads, and doing so in a way that left students poorly equipped to do anything creative on their own later on. Her point was that we ought to treat students less like carbon-based filing cabinets, and more like human beings with eternal souls. As future men and women, she argued, students needed to learn how to learn. They were not to be taught so that they would then be “taught.” They were to be taught how to teach themselves. They were to be taught in such a way that they could encounter a new situation, get oriented quickly, and do what a truly educated person ought to do.
Douglas Wilson wrote the above paragraph in the October 2011 online newsletter for Veritas Press, a classical Christian educational publishing group. Veritas Press publishes Omnibus, which integrates History, Theology, and Literature. Omnibus is integrated because all the topics it covers are woven together, not separate distinct courses. Doug concludes his article thusly,

So if an Omnibus student, for example, says that he doesn’t need to go to a liberal arts college because he “already read” Homer, then regardless of whatever good grades he got doing Omnibus, he nevertheless missed the whole point of it. (This doesn’t mean that he has to go to a liberal arts college. It means that he must not avoid it for the wrong reasons.) The world certainly needs more engineers, but it needs engineers who know how to think in an integrated way. Liberal arts training, whether in high school or college, is not vocational training for English teachers. Liberal arts instruction, as is contained in the Omnibus, is an education for living as a free man or woman in Christ, wherever God calls them. And when they are called to a particular place, they should be able to see how Jesus Christ is the integration point for all things (Col. 1:17-18). If they don’t know how to do that, wherever they are, then they did not receive a classical Christian education, whatever was offered to them. 
But let’s say we consider another student, one who didn’t get the best grades of all time while in high school. Not only was he integrating theology, history and literature, but also three-a-day football practices, a part time job at the mini-mart, and hunting trips with his dad, and he actually learned how to live an integrated life, with Christ at the center of it all. What should we think? We should think of him as a real success story. 
This is because the point of education is found in what the student does with it. Faith without works is dead.
Lord, may the Abell children lives such lives of faith, may their education not make them ready for one vocation, but enable them to think and live and work in whatever vocation and in whatever situation they find themselves. May they live Christlike lives, ever glorifying Him, and ever learning more.

No comments: