Prepared For A Life That Fits Together: Integration in Classical Christian Education

ClassicalIntegrated

Clear Lake Classical recently ran the fall edition of their newsletter, and I was honored they would accept an excerpt from one of my articles on classical education. Want to see the full newsletter?! Sign up here!

Another painful conversation. Another hurting set of parents.

The mother of a bright 6th grader looked at me, mournfully. “We just want school to make sense for where their lives are going,” she said. “If they come on [the family farm],” her husband added, “I don’t want [my child] to have spent years in school learning something different than who we are every day in our home.”

Education should “make sense.” Learning ought to help our kids “be who we are every day.” I’ve heard these concerns voiced, emailed, and prayed for many, many times.

Yet for many families, there is a growing concern that education has been disconnected from what we want for the next generation. Do the hours spent in various classes actually prepare young minds for the skills they will need? Do the values they pick up – on the playground, in the lunch line, or on the bus –  shape them into the godly adults we pray they will become? Growing up in Minnesota, and now living in Iowa, it is easy to see that Midwest families value education that integrates knowledge and values that will be practical for our children’s future.

And Midwest families are not alone. Increasingly, educators across the nation are recognizing this need. A 2017 survey found that parents want their student to personally succeed, but not at the cost of being well rounded individuals, addressing issues like economic needs and personal values.[1] One school administrator noted parents are looking for “a well rounded education which included spirituality.” She went on to suggest that, “Smaller class sizes, a loving environment, and integrated curriculum were also reasons stated” for what parents’ desired for schooling.[2] Even the National Education Association found that, “Research and fieldwork show that integrated education improves schools, strengthens families, builds community support, and increases student achievement and success.”[3] Integrating education with classwork that makes sense for life after school is important. And integrating the school work with spiritual values of the community or family is becoming more recognized by everyone.

Enter the joys of classical Christian education!

One of the reasons there has been such a huge resurgence in classical Christian schooling is because of how well it “scratches” where many families “itch.” Educating our children with classical methods and a Christ-centered focus is what Clear Lake Classical is all about. If we want our kids to have integrity in their practical lives, we must educate them in a way that shows the integrity of what they are learning, and who they are in Christ.

Since all knowledge comes from God, all knowledge and learning are unified. When taught this way, students learn that all subjects – even ones they don’t like! – have practical use for them, leading our kids to become unified thinkers. Dr. Stephen Turley explained, “…all subjects in an educational curriculum serve as lenses” to see God’s truth for our integrated lives. “Gym [classes] cultivate the virtue of self-mastery; music and poetry provide the [way to] rhythm and harmony… [and] particularly in mathematics, students are able see the reality beyond appearances.”[4] Every subject is important, because they all reflect the knowledge and truth of God for our students. Learning well, then, integrates our children to one day be men and women of integrity in their careers, families, churches, and communities.

But it would not meet our needs just to integrate our learning. We must remember that our kids are made in God’s image, and they need every aspect of their lives to be explained as children of our loving Heavenly Father. “Education cannot properly be separated from man’s calling in terms of the purpose of God, since he will either be educated for dominion as God’s viceregent, or … their own corrupt desires.”[5] Every school day, we are constantly pointing our children towards one finish line or another: either they will grow and mature to see their lives integrated into God’s world and His truth, or they will learn to take what they know to serve their own world, and their own truth. There is no neutral ground. Classical Christian education integrates all teaching in Christ.[6] Jesus is the reason history, algebra, and grammar make sense. But He is also the reason our children can grow into people of integrity and honor as they learn our integrated curriculum.

Parents want what is best for our beloved children. We want the precious hours of school to prepare them to be men and women who are whole, full of integrity, and know how to live for God in His world. When we remember that our Heavenly Father loves our children far better than we ever could, we see the beauty of giving our children integrated learning that puts all knowledge and all Christian values in one place: classical Christian education. I’m thankful to God for a place like Clear Lake Classical that strives every day to integrate the beauties of God’s glory for our children!
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[1] John Valant & Daniel A. Newark, “My Kids, Your Kids, Our Kids: What Parents And the Public Want From Schools” Teachers College Record Volume 119, Number 12 (2017).

[2] Davis, Ava M., “Why Do Parents Choose to Send Their Children To Private Schools?” (2011). Electronic Theses & Dissertations. 382. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/etd/382 p. 56.

[3] Dennis Van Roekel, “Parenting, Family, Community Involvement in Education: An NEA Policy Brief” NEA Policy and Practice Department (Policy Brief 11, 2008). Accessed online at https://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

[4] Stephen Turley, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness & Beauty (Camp Hill, PA: Classical Academic Press, 2014).

[5] Stephen C. Perks, The Christian Philosophy of Education Explained (Whitby, England: Avant Books, 1992) p. 89.

[6] Circe Institute, “Integration” Principles of Classical Education. Accessed online at https://www.circeinstitute.org/principles-classical-education.

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