You own your kids because God has entrusted them to you. For this reason, you must educate your kids in a manner that glorifies God. The foundations to such an education, as just discussed, are cultivating a love for God, His Word, and His people. Last time, we left off without actually getting to the meat of education. What does a God-glorifying education look like beyond the pre-educational years? We will conclude our three-part series by answering this question.
I recognize, first of all, this is not a hard and fast solution. What I propose is, I believe, a good and godly solution - however, it is not the only solution. It is a solution that is recommended, and that is increasing in availability and depth - but it is a solution that does not necessarily exclude other biblical alternatives.
What is this solution? You’ve probably heard of classical education. It is an ancient method (as its name implies), though different from what we would be used to. Classical education is not offered by the State, nor is it coined on the whims of children. Instead, classical education is a time-tested, thoughtful approach to helping children think critically. Thinking critically? Isn’t that a bad thing?
Being a critic is a bad thing. Thinking critically is a good thing. Thinking critically means you give intentional thought to the information being given to you. Thinking critically means you aren’t blown to and fro between different lofty sounding ideas. Thinking critically means you evaluate arguments logically and Biblically. You think, weigh, process, chew on, and reason through the claims of others by testing these claims against trustworthy authorities, against the principles of logic, and against the Word of God itself. In order to do this, classical education uses a different method of teaching. This is partly visible in the subjects students learn – could you imagine every child learning Latin, Greek, logic, and rhetoric as a part of normal schooling? That would be classical education. But this type of education is actually deeper than merely unique subjects. It is an entire methodology that defines it.
Classical education follows a three-part structure known as the Trivium. I want to walk through each part of the Trivium, demonstrating how it equips your child to think logically and Biblically about the world. Then, we will talk about some practical ways you can classically educate your children.
The Grammar Stage (Grades 1-6). The first part of the Trivium is called the grammar stage (approximately spanning grades 1-6). When your child is this young, it doesn’t make sense to attempt to explain why things happen the way they do. Your child is too young to understand this. At this age, however, your child has a “spongy brain.” In other words, what goes in stays in. You must take advantage of this! In the grammar stage, children will memorize Bible verses. They won’t articulate a theology of sin, but they will recite truths to you, such as “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” These Biblical truths will become embedded in the mind of a child. Math lays the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Latin is learned through songs, charts, vocabulary words, and patterns. This stage is vital for your child. It will allow him/her to excel even further, to drill even deeper, in the years to come.
The Logic Stage (Grades 7-9). The second part is the logic stage (again, the grade approximations are given in parentheses). Yes, this is where the subject logic is introduced. Logic teaches us how to think. Logic tells you, for example, that this is wrong: All classical education is focused on children. All child abuse is focused on children. Therefore, all classical education is child abuse. Logic also tells you that this is right: All subjects taught by classical education are beneficial to children. Logic is taught by classical education. Therefore, logic is beneficial to children. Those two arguments look very similar, but the first is wrong and the second is right. Logic will explain how this works. This is vital to your child because, at this stage of life, he/she has probably become very inquisitive. Knowing via memory is no longer okay. Now the journey begins to understand why things work the way they do. Romans 3 tells us all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But why have all sinned? Why is sin bad? Is there a solution to this problem of sin? These questions start becoming common in the logic stage.
The Rhetoric Stage (Grades 10-12). As your child prepares for post-secondary education and the years beyond, rhetoric becomes a big deal. In our culture, rhetoric is often defined as some underhanded form of manipulation to bend the wills of the innocent populace. This, however, is a manipulation itself. Rhetoric is simply the art of persuasion. At this age, we young adults aren’t content with understanding why things work. Now we need to convince others of our positions. We take all we have memorized and all we have reasoned through and look to present it to you in a way that is understandable, logical, and compelling. Having to persuade someone of your position is not just for their benefit, however. It also solidifies one’s own convictions. This cherry on top of the Trivium is necessary before your child faces the wide world of Academia, Propaganda, and the Postmodern Populace. Let them own their convictions.
Although classical education is not inherently Biblical, a Christian classical education is. God is a God of order, goodness, truth, beauty, and reason. Christian classical education seeks to teach about the world from this perspective. The world is orderly and good, and there is objective truth and beauty, and reason is important. The issue is that we are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. We need to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and because of that we need to look at the world as God would have us look at the world. To look at the world and think rather than accept whatever the government says; to look at the world and contend for the faith rather than let false teaching invade the church; these are crucial disciplines necessary for what’s ahead. And these disciplines are best fostered through a Christian classical education. Put simply, a Christian classical education, if done rightly, glorifies God.
By God’s grace, the Christian classical education movement is only growing. Online schools, and even those in person, are certainly available to you and your children if this is the road you choose to take.
In our own city, for example, we have the Kawartha Classical Christian School (KCCS). This recent establishment offers a robust program for the grammar stage of classical education, and as the children grow KCCS will, God willing, be offering even more in the future. See more information here.
In this age of online everything, it is little wonder to find these establishments out in Internet land as well. Tree of Life is a Canadian classical institution teaching from a Biblical worldview. Their resources and information are found here.
I would be remiss to leave out my own school, from which I have benefited tremendously. Veritas Scholars Academy is an online classical school out of Pennsylvania. They are quite well established, and offer a plethora of courses. Their site is to be found here.
If left to out-of-home schooling, do your research. The schools listed above are trustworthy and care about your kids. Many other schools may say that theoretically. Not all schools do that functionally: So be careful. Perhaps, however, classical education will begin at home. Curriculum is easily bought from these institutions and can be administered to your child in the home. Either way, if you are new to the idea of classical education, you should educate yourself before you educate your child. Poke around on classical education sites. Learn more about the philosophy and methodology classical education uses. Pray and seek wisdom if this is the sacrifice God would have you make. Let Him guide you and your kids.
So who owns your kids? You do! Once more, God has entrusted them to you. It is your responsibility to educate them in a manner that glorifies Him. I submit to you that, all the more in the current climate, the best way you can love God and love your children through education is to provide them a Christian classical education. This is not the easy route of education, and it may mean significant sacrifice. But it is worth it in the end. My experience has been Christian classical education, and I consider that one of the greater blessings God has bestowed upon me. I testify to its importance and usefulness. All the difficulty and all the sacrifice are worth it to see your child grow up and glorify God through his logical reasoning, rhetorical engagement, and Biblical worldview.