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A Philosophy of Education

When it comes to homeschooling, the methods and philosophies abound. That is why each family has to know for itself what they are trying to accomplish and how they intend to accomplish it.

Summer Blog Hop
From the start Classical education attracted me and caught my attention. In order to understand where I stand I will start with our family's definition and understanding of education and what we as parents are called to do, and that from a biblical point of view, since we are a Christian family.

Education: A dictionary definition would be "the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction."

We all recognize that life is a learning process from the time we are born to the time we die. One is never finished learning about himself and about the world around him. Our task as parents therefore revolves around equipping, guiding, and coaching our kids in that ever ending task of learning and growth as individuals.

As believers our task is even deeper than that, given that we understand that this world is under God's sovereign rule. He is the king of the universe and whatever learning we do is under and dependent upon HIS reality. That is why as Christian our task as parents is defined in Scripture as that of "training a child in the way he should go . . ."

When I first started homeschooling I kept hearing people talking about having a mission statement for their homeschooling. I discussed this with my hubby and we both agreed that the vision that we should have for our homeschooling should be the vision that God defines himself for parents in regards to raising kids. So, then we came up with:  Our goal is to train up our kids in the fear of the Lord and help them grow in the knowledge of our Lord and in wisdom.

Notice in this statement there are a few important phrases that deserve unpacking:
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Grow in knowledge of the Lord
  • Grow in wisdom
First of all our primary task in educating our children is to teach them about their dependence upon God our creator. As human beings we are not independent creatures. We were created and therefore have to answer to our creator. Second we need to help them grow and mature in the knowledge and understanding of this creator.  Lastly, we need to equip them to keep growing in wisdom that is having their hearts and minds shaped by God's Word and character, which is grounded in fearing the Lord and ends up in skillful living.

This is no easy task. This is a process and an elaborate one at that.

One thing we have come to understand, and that is crucial to appreciate when we speak of Christian education is that the world belongs to God. God is revealing himself in his creation and in His Word, therefore both need to be explored and studied if we want to have a rounded understanding and knowledge of Him.
"True Christian education is not a negative thing; it is not a matter of isolating the student from the full scope of knowledge. Isolating the student from large sections of human knowledge is not the basis of a Christian education. Rather it is giving him or her the framework or total truth, rooted in the Creator's existence and in the Bible's teaching, so that in each step of the formal learning process the student will understand what is true and what is false and why it is true or false. It is not isolating students from human knowledge. It is teaching them in a framework of the total Biblical teaching, beginning with the tremendous central thing, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It is teaching in this framework, so that on their own level, as they are introduced to all of human knowledge, they are not introduced in the midst of a vacuum, but they are taught each step along the way why what they are hearing is either true or false. That is true education.  . . .  It is giving the tools in the opening the doors to all human knowledge, in the Christian framework so they will know what is truth and what is untruth, so they can keep learning as long as they live, and they can enjoy, they can really enjoy, the whole wrestling through field after field of knowledge. That is what an educated person is" (Francis Schaeffer on Education)
This is where classical education comes in. I have found that classical education is one of the best methodology that seeks to utilize all that God has given as our source of knowledge and study.

Classical education understands and works from the presupposition that "far more than the mere teaching of facts, true education concerns itself with establishing values and beliefs; and that is done with or on a system; it is done consciously or unconsciously." (Gruenter E Salter)

I love this quote, as it captures the need for a careful education: "Misguided and erroneous enthusiam is a poor substitute for reasoned deliberation and validity." (Guenter E Salter)

Classical education is really based on the ancient model of  liberal arts education which goal is expounded in this quote:
"A Christian liberal arts education teaches a person to be at home in the world of the mind and ideas. It helps him respond as an educated person rather than a fool. It helps him understand the problems he encounters in all areas of public and private life: political, social, and economic. It challenges him to the pursuit of knowledge, enabling him to bring discipline and order into his own life and that of a confused society. It refines his ethic and aesthetic sensibilities. Based on the eternal foundation of God's Word, the touchstone of truth, a Christian liberal arts education uniquely integrates faith and learning and, thus, teaches the student not only how to earn a living, that is to provide for his material needs however necessary that may be, but it teaches him more importantly how to live because it has an eternity in view. Having benefitted from a Christian liberal arts education, the Christian can function more effectively in his three God-ordained roles as prophet, priest, and king. As prophet he proclaims God's sovereignty, using language that is cogent, lucid, precise, grammatically correct, stylistically pleasing, and linguistically impressive by tone and impact. A person who has not learned how to express himself clearly, logically, sequentially, persuasively, and grammatically correctly will not draw attention to the message but only to his own incompetence. As priest, man maintains proper communion with his creator as he heeds His commands and serves Him. As king he exercises responsible stewardship over the created order. He will do so responsibly, not giving in to propaganda and hysteria, having learned to ignore the siren call of political correctness while basing his decisions on reason and evidence." 
(Gruenter E Salter)
In order to reach the goal of growing in knowledge and wisdom one must have his heart and mind in gear. Growth will not happen in a vacuum. One must:
  • Learn how to think. Our mind needs exercising, order and discipline.
  • Learn to be critical and examine issues rationally; learn to distinguish between opinion and conviction, or between emotional inclination and demonstrable fact and sound research. "Children need to learn to develop their own convictions not based on the authority of their parents, peers and certainly not ignorance, but upon worthy appreciation of truth through examination and evaluation. They need to be actively engage with knowledge and not passive recipients".
  • Be able to make connections between the different  realms of our world and have an integrated thinking, which in turn will help in developing wisdom.
  • Know how to keep learning. There is no end to knowledge and understanding.
My husband and I have found that classical education, in his desire to teach kids to think and integrate our whole world in the building of knowledge, was the best framework or pedagogy that matches what we are commanded to do in Scripture. Scripture's goal is to teach us about who God is and who we are, of our sinfulness and God's salvation plan. Scripture gives us a worldview in which to study His world and we must then go out and do that study. That is the only way God will broaden and deepen our knowledge and grow us in wisdom.
"The integration of every academic discipline with the Christian faith is an integral part of the Christian student's calling. . . . Liberal education is comprehensive education." (Leland Ryken - Liberal Arts for the Christian Life).
 "The acquisition of knowledge in a Christian context gives that knowledge a meaning and purpose it would not otherwise have. Often facts offered in a secular environment are sterile and disconnected because they are presented as existing only in themselves, apart from any sense of hierarchy, or any moral or spiritual purpose or implications. But our faith--our knowledge of God and his word--provides an essential organizing and clarifying framework because we can see every facet of truth in the context of the author of truth. Christianity is not an addendum to life or knowledge, but the true organizing principle of existence, informing every endeavor with value and every person with purpose and direction. It alone answers with truth and confidence the five great questions that must be answered before life can progress meaningfully:
Who am I?Why am I here?Where did I come from?Where am I going?What is the purpose of life?
Only when these questions have been correctly answered can the next set be correctly answered also:
Why should I act?How should I act?What is good?What is to be sought?
The answers each person gives to these questions will determine the quality and effectiveness, or perhaps the misery and despair, of his life. By showing the student how to find the right answers to these questions, the {distinctly} Christian liberal arts institution makes more meaningful and useful all the rest of the knowledge it offers." (Harris Robert)
Tomorrow, I will go in the details of what Classical education consists of.

In the same series:
What is Classical Education?
Why and How I homeschool Classically
What is Relaxed Homeschooling
Combining Classical and Relaxed


You are a girl after my own heart! Great article and great HOP topic! ;)

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