It is a great privilege to be part of the classical Christian education movement. It is a movement that is solutions based rather than fear driven. People realized that modern education was failing to give our students the education they deserve as those created in the image of God. Motivated with a passion for our children, people began asking what is the best form of education? This led to a radical solution; to reconnect with the great Christian liberal arts tradition that has proven itself over millennium to produce mature, highly educated and virtuous citizens. Not only is this a solution for educating our sons and daughters, it is also a movement that offers hope to those who do not have a clear vision of how to restore culture. During my undergraduate studies, I remember more than one professor speak eloquently concerning the direction of American society toward oppression and how the persecution of the church is inevitable. They accurately saw the social and moral trends in our society, but did not see any hope for turning it around. When we look back in history, we see that Christianity has transformed many cultures for good, and one of the primary their primary methods they utilized was Christian education.
The reason I continually talk about the big picture is that vision motivates us to find solutions when we face challenges. One challenge that is normal is trying to motivate our children to engage the process. People are always motivated toward that which they value, and that is true for our kids. We need to paint before their imaginations the value of the education we are giving them. For example, it can be a lot of work wrestling with the great books of Western Civilization. It is far easier (and immediately gratifying) to read other pieces of literature, but those books do not help us grow. As I was talking with my daughter over the summer (motivated somewhat by the fact that I intentionally waited until 3 weeks before school to give her our summer reading books) I found that I had to inspire her to want to tackle the giant book she held in her hands. I explained how reading great books gives us the tools we need to be creative. Almost all human beings have a desire to create something valuable. This is an intrinsic human longing, and a classical Christian education gives students the skills to produce beauty. This is just as true in science and engineering as it is in art, music and literature.
After I returned from the Circe conference, I continued our conversation with a story I heard there concerning Fredrick Douglass. He was an incredible orator, probably one of the best our nation has produced since our founding fathers. When asked how he became such a great orator, he explained that he was given a book of the greatest speeches ever given and he memorized them all. By doing so, he wrestled with their thought and techniques in a manner that internalized them and gave him a fountain to draw from in his own speeches. Having these visionary discussions with my daughter helped motivate her to read over 100 pages a day and finish long before school started.
The point is that if we are going to be successful as classical Christian educators (teachers and co-teachers) we need to learn how to inspire ourselves and our children to passionately love learning and to engage in the great discussion. A classical Christian education only works if we get people to engage. That is my sincere prayer for all of us at Fortis Academy.