In 2012 my wife, fed up with the public school system where she worked and where our kids went to school, was determined that our youngest would somehow escape before he got to middle school. My attitude at the time was that we, and our other two kids, survived the public school system, so he can too. She was having none of that, and boy am I glad she didn’t!. It wasn’t too long after her declaration that a new local Christian classical school was having a fundraiser featuring Christian guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy. I missed the concert because of a business trip, but when I got back she was all fired up. It took me a while to understand exactly what classical education was, and get as excited as my wife, but now I’m a full-on evangelist!
At the same time my son got started at Covenant Classical School, my daughter was in the middle of her college career at Hillsdale College, the greatest college in the land. Not only were the liberal arts opened up to her in a way she’d never been exposed to before, she decided to get a minor in classical education. She loves it so much that she’s decided to make a career in classical education, and is currently a dean at a charter classical school in Florida.
With this background, you’ll understand why I was excited when I came across an article at The Gospel Coalition website with the gratifying title,“The Exponential Growth of Classical Christian Education.” In 1993 there were 10 such schools, and today there are over 250. I wish there were 2500! Whether of a charter, thus public, variety like my daughter’s school, or Christian where my son goes, classical education is a critical component to challenging the secular hegemony of American culture.
Author Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra gives one of the best explanations, along with some history, of classical education I’ve come across. I highly encourage you to read it. What makes classical education so subversive in a postmodern/relativistic/secular culture is that it affirms what all the ancients believed, be they Hebrew, Greek, Roman, or Christian: that objective truth, goodness, and beauty exist. For the gospel to make sense to postmodern people we first have to persuade them that truth isn’t relative. Most Westerners think that what is true for you, isn’t necessarily true for them.
The phrase, “true for you, but not for me” perfectly encapsulates postmodern relativism. The statement, however, refutes itself: it asserts something to be true! Duh! It’s absurd, while making the person sound tolerant and open minded. A simple way to prove the self-refutation is to ask a person who says such a thing if two contradictory assertions can both be true. For example, can Islam and Christianity both be true? The typical postmodern would say, if it works for the person, then sure, it can be true for them. No it can’t. Islam says that Jesus was not God, did not die on a Roman cross for our sins, was not buried, and thus not raised from the dead. Christians say that Jesus was God, died on a Roman cross for our sins, was buried, and witnesses claim he was raised from the dead on the third day. Can both of these scenarios be true? If they say yes, no need to continue the discussion. If they say, well, no because those two scenarios contradict each other, then you can have an intelligent conversation with such a person.
Classical education contributes to more of our fellow citizens being able to have the latter type of conversation. May it’s exponential growth continue!