Education is not just the impartation of information, nor is it simply about the development of skills. Although both of those two things are extremely important, they are only aspects of a comprehensive education. Education begins with the questions such as: How can I prepare my child for life, and How do I prepare my child to be truly satisfied in life. The answer to the first question is also the reason many of us have chosen Fortis Academy, we believe a classical Christian education is how we prepare our children for life. The latter question expounds what such an education is, and would require volumes to do justice to. Yet, it is always worth discussing briefly because it helps us as an educational community to work together to provide the environment that will prepare our children to live truly successful and satisfied lives.
I remember working at a company where people were not paid much, but supported their families on what they made. One day I noticed a coworker looking upset and grumbling to himself. Christmas was approaching, and he was lamenting that he could not give his children many of the things that those who made much more money than he did were able to. I pulled him aside and told him that he could give his children something that money cannot by, a dad who loves his children, who walks in integrity and teaches them to have dignity and self-respect. He began to tear up and walk away. He was not a Christian, but later he called to me from the other side of some equipment and simply shouted, “Praise the Lord!” The point is that true satisfaction begins with character and faith. Without those, everything is well described by the preacher as “Vanity, all is vanity, a grasping after the wind.” There are many people who appear to be successful by the world’s standards, and yet are deeply dissatisfied because they have not settled the deeper issues of significance and self-worth that can only be answered by faith and character. Yet, the natural result of biblical faith and character is a desire to be a blessing to others, and therefore to develop the skills and be promoted to positions where we can be the greatest blessing to the greatest amount of people. This is why being successful is an important element of living a satisfied life and why developing skills is essential to education.
The faith we hold to as a classical Christian school connects with the reformation tradition that sees work as an act of worship and believes in the priesthood of all believers. It is a faith that is inherited from the Hebrew tradition that sees this world as created by God and therefore good. The Greek idea that the spiritual world is good and the material world at times has crept into Christian thinking, so that, the ideal form of spirituality becomes a withdraw from responsibility. The Reformation brought forth a culture that was conducive to medicine, science and technology because it was grounded in an authentically biblical worldview. The vision is that work for the betterment of all is good and satisfying, but toil, a result of the curse, is not. Driving all development was a radical commitment to the teachings and values of scripture, especially of Jesus Christ, that sought to bless all human beings and make life better for all. Many of the inventions that transformed our world were inspired by believers observing sickness and useless toil, and coming up with solutions to alleviate it. In our Christian worldview readings for this week a story was told about the World Fair in 1851 where the Americans did not even fill the space they rented. They were seen as undeveloped in the eyes of the Europeans, and the prejudice was reinforced by the appearance of their display that highlighted two horse-driven reapers invented by different men. After an international jury concluded that Cyrus McCormick’s reaper could harvest 20 acres a day, it became the main attraction of the World Fair. Those simple looking devices remind me of a man who many saw as only the son of a carpenter but was in truth God incarnate. They were beautiful and were ultimately the fruit of faith in that man from Galilee. Cyrus invented his reapers because he saw the toil of human laborers and wanted to relieve it. He believed in this mission so completely that he ended up created a factory, developed marketing and creative financing to get his reaper into hands of as many people as possible. His industriousness was an act of worship that sought to make the world better and more beautiful for as many people as he could. McCormick’s ambition was driven by biblical morals rather than a greed. All of his other deeds reflect his faith and character and are worth studying.
Imagine a world of highly skilled citizens whose creativity and ambition is all motivated to be a blessing rather than from the love of money. This is one of the goals of a classical Christian education that unites us as a community at Fortis academy.