Sunday, June 5, 2011

NCCS Graduation

I have mentioned before here that our classical christian school celebrated our first ever graduating class this year - we now officially have Alumni!   We are now a pre-K-12 school made of up families who embrace the classical style of education, and a mix of homeschool/classical school families.  I have had many people ask me what the difference between a classical christian school and a regular christian school is.  We have had the pleasure (and displeasure) of experiencing a public school, a private christian school, homeschool and a classical christian school - so I think it's fair to say I have a clear view of each one. Thankfully, we discovered our classical school while our oldest was still in elementary school (and will now be a Junior this fall!).   An insert was handed out in our church bulletin that addresses this question with a wonderful explanation that I thought I would share here.

An Interview with George Grant Ph.D., D. Litt.:
Q) What should be the difference between a Classical Christian school and regular Christian school?
A) There should be several differences: 1. Discipleship emphasis; 2. Moral philosophy integration in the curriculum; 3. Latin, Rhetoric, and other disciplines of classical education to forge the thinking and discerning skills necessary for a Biblical model of success; 4. Modeling servant leadership from the top down.

Q) Is Latin an absolute must for the classical student?
A) Yes. Latin provides the foundations for all Language study - including English.  When a student studies Latin, he or she gets inside Language structure in a way almost nothing else can enable him or her to.  And since Language is the basis for the transfer of all knowledge, it is a vital aspect of a Christian education.

Q) How does classical education create a love of learning in a student that today's school, public or private, may not?
A) The idea of classical education lies less in the actual curriculum - though that is certainly important - and more in the way that curriculum is communicated: as a moral philosophy through discipleship.  In short, it is an intensive mentorship rather than a mere transfer of data or skills.  The student is coached rather than merely taught. 

Q) Why is history the core of education?
A)  For several reason: 1. Because it is the primary way God teaches us (re: most of the Bible is history); 2. Because it is the telling of stories and we always learn best by way of narrative; 3. Because history includes every other subject and every other discipline and every other endeavor.

Q) You talk about how history has been taught incorrectly the last seventy years in public and private schools, so how should history be taught?
A) Instead of a collection of dates and dead people, history should be the Biblical worldview taught by example.  In other words, it must not be a social science but a moral philosophy.

Q) We do Biblical worldview through history, how do we provide Christian life view in a covenantal school or should we try at all? (I'm not sure our kids really have the joy of Christianity. They seem to get a certain arrogance of knowledge instead.)
A) This too is largely a matter or mentoring and intentionality.  The school is not the church and cannot replace the church - so, in many instances, we have to attribute the tepid response to the Gospel as a problem in the churches.  But also, there needs to be a faithful application of the Gospel in all classes and a modeling of holiness from all staff.

Q) What's wrong in public education that has caused schools to fail? Why have they failed?
A)  Part of the problem is ideological and theological - the government schools are committed to the failed ideas of humanistic modernity.  But because the schools also violate the Biblical idea of sphere sovereignty - taking from the parents the responsibility of education - they are flawed at their very foundations.  Finally, because they must adhere to a fallacious notion of neutrality and pluralism, they wind up necessarily catering to the least common denominator in the community.

Q) Why have Christian schools really failed too? (We have talked to Christian parents who have said they cannot tell the difference between public schools and Christian schools.  The kids act the same and the curriculum is the same.)
A) Because of the increasing pressure of the accreditation process and the accommodation to the world of Christian schools, they have become little more than tamer versions of the public schools - albeit with Bible classes tacked on.  They're trying to keep up with the Joneses, not realizing that their copycat mentality is destroying their original mission.

After hearing the speeches our seniors gave at graduation, it confirmed for me that these answers to these questions are very true.  I think the Classical school is set apart because of the intentional relationship building alongside intentional scriptural teachings through all subjects, and they are taught HOW to think. They are taught ALL worldviews, through the scope of a Christian worldview, so that they are prepared and able to defend their beliefs in any situation.  Every one of the speeches given by the students was about the relationships - the mentorships, the discipleships - that have made them who they are today - infusing them with the triumverate - truth, beauty and goodness.   The teachers, staff and headship all working together towards this same goal is what sets it apart - and their goal is Sharpening Minds, Shepherding Hearts, and Shaping Lives.  Now I know there are some incredible teachers out there in all kinds of different schools making huge differences in the lives of students - especially in the public schools, and that is wonderful - many of them are my personal friends.  But having ALL the teachers in a school doing this, all working together towards the same goal - with a classical mentality, rooted in scriptural truth, is what truly sets a classical school apart.   I feel blessed beyond measure that God has placed us in this school, and I am so proud of our graduates!