The other day I listened as a friend lamented that he believes that young people today have not been taught how to solve problems. He is a business owner who is not involved in the educational community that understands this issue, so I was intrigued by the fact that he was able to pick this up from his young workers. They can be programmed to fulfill a function but are unable to find a solution when presented with a challenging problem. I see this as the loss of the image of God in man. Developing human reason, creativity, love and responsibility are just some of the goals of an authentically Christian education. Progressive education sees people as machines that need to be programmed to fulfill a function. A Christian liberal arts education frees people to be all that God has created them to be by teaching them to be self-learners that use the incredible skills they develop for the glory of God and the benefit of man.
We need to ponder a little more about what is at stake in education. I remember seeing the first dog I had as a boy experience snow for the first time. Most dogs love snow, but not all. As she gleefully ran outside early in the morning, she immediately ran awkwardly back as she tried to get inside as quickly as she could with her paws only touching the snow as briefly as possible. My friend’s dog hated the snow all his life, and my grandma’s dog wanted to wear a sweater all winter. That dog obviously was the smartest and best educated of all the dogs because he got tired of being cold, took some yarn and crocheted a sweater. Oh wait, that last part did not happen. Sorry, I just anthropomorphized my grandma’s dog. He did not have the ability to analyze the problem of being cold, imagining a solution and implementing it. Such creativity and industry belongs to the image of God in man. I would argue that we are in a culture war over the image of God in man, and education is at the heart of it. Culture reflects the character and values of people, so the education of our children is of the utmost importance for the future of nations.
A Fortis academy education is classical because a classical education teaches our children how to learn and empowers them to think. It gives them skills that have the potential to shape culture, but that alone is not enough. Our education is also Christian, because only Christ has the ability to make us truly loving and cause us to use our talents for the benefit of all. Finally, our education utilizes the University Model because it brings together the best of homeschooling and a professional on campus education. That is the foundation upon which Fortis academy was laid. This year we are exploring and building upon each one of these foundations intentionally. Our driving passion is answering the questions, “How can we help our children become all that God has ordained them to be?” With regard to classical education, we are working on Socratic dialogue and active learning. With regard to Christian education, we are focusing on numerous areas because this is the heart of our school, but one area has been our Christian worldview small groups that help us think deeper as believers. Finally, the area that I am really excited about right now is the University Model aspect of Fortis Academy. Yes, I spoke about this last week, and will continue to speak about it in coming weeks because the partnership between the home and the school has the potential to make Fortis Academy truly exceptional.
You may have noticed that there has been an intentional empowering of families to build the Fortis community and to make our school a wonderful place for our children. Last weekend we had our first Rhetoric retreat (thanks to Pam Helgerson, Roxanne Vernor, Rebekah Silvers and Chris White and others). In the spring we plan to have another retreat that will include the 8thgraders. We also had our first ever Nerf war…I mean tournament. (Thank you, Yuri.) The list can go on and on so that it would be impossible to thank everyone. It is my sincere prayer is that such creativity and industry that demonstrates the image of God in man will continually grow and multiply. Through parent involvement we hope to launch a student council, a newsletter and several other extracurricular activities that will help us develop a flourishing Fortis. The foundation of our school is strong, the vision is heading in the right direction. I am eager to see Fortis Grow and flourish for the sake of our children and for the glory of God.