Some of the best questions in the world are “why” questions. Here are a few of mine:
- Why isn’t the word “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds?
- Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
- Why is it that when you transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it’s called cargo?
- Why can’t they make the whole plane out of the same indestructible substance the black box is made from?
Ok, please forgive the dad jokes, but “why” questions are among the most profound questions we can ask. And classical Christian education has a distinctive answer to its own why question: why educate this way? Asked a different way, what is the objective of classical Christian education? What is its purpose?
The Association of Classical Christian Schools website offers a brief but thought-provoking response to the question, one that I hope prompts you to pursue the answer further for yourself and your children.
Before the mid-eighteenth century, Christian paideia was the purpose of nearly all Western education. This was based, in part, on Ephesians 6 that commands fathers to raise their children in “the Παιδεια (paideia) of the Lord.” It seeks an inner transformation of the student. It cultivates the students’ habits of thought and action in order to view the world with certain foundational truths and thereby align their desires with God’s ideal. Classical Christian education’s objective, then, is to shape the virtues and reason so that they will be in line with God’s will. In other words, our objective is to cultivate a Christian paideia in students.
College preparation is not an end in itself, but can often result because most colleges are built on a Western model that reveres language and reasoning. CCE graduates are eager to learn and have excellent faculties in language and reasoning. Thus, college is a natural outworking of CCE. But, the chief end of education is to prepare students to worship and glorify God.
The ideal graduate of a Classical Christian school should be marked by a noticeable refinement of manner and intellect. He will be first and foremost committed to his Christian purpose in life, and will love and live the Christian virtues. He will be competent in language, mathematics, natural philosophy (science), philosophy, and theology, and be prepared and interested in studying them further. He will think well, with Christian presuppositions in all areas of his life. He will be wise and full of humility. He will love to learn and will seek to learn throughout his life.
“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” — John Milton