If you are reading this letter, I assume it is because you are searching for a school for your child. As with most parents, you are likely looking for a place that will give your child a quality education; a place where your child will thrive and grow. It is also very likely that you have visited, or plan to visit several other schools before you make a final decision. As you do your research, you are probably judging a school’s quality of education by the amount of technology, electives, and “extras” (such as college prep) a school has to offer. I am a teacher, so as I searched for the best place for my son, I thought I was better equipped than most to make this decision. I confess, these were the things that I thought made a good education. I now realize how superficial they are. The next obvious question you are probably asking is, “If I am searching for the wrong things, what should I be looking for in education?” I’m glad you asked.
You will find two things at Redeemer that you will not find in any other K-12 school in the Phoenix area: Christian and Classical. If you look around you will find many other Christian schools and several other classical schools, but none that are uniquely both. Some people think that as long as the school is Christian OR Classical, then their child is getting the best education. This is simply not true.
To understand this, I must first explain modern education. The one of the goals of modern education is to teach for job preparation, to teach tolerance, and to help students find basic self-fulfillment in life. Students learn how to be good in school and they are kept busy doing many things. I will also point out that all the well-intentioned, non-classical Christian schools fall under this modern education model as well. In any case, you probably think that these are all worthy goals. After all, shouldn’t we be teaching our kids to get along and keep a job? Besides, this is the education you received and you turned out ok. It may be hard to believe, but this is actually part of the problem!
You may have given little thought to the education model at your local public and charter school and even less thought to that of a Christian school. This is probably because you assume “Christian” is best in any situation. You may evaluate the average Christian school by test scores or class size, giving little thought to how students are actually being taught. However, what you don’t realize is that students receive the BEST education from an education model that is both Classical and Christian. This may be in part because you likely did not learn this way. Let me put it this way: It’s like seeing the entire world as green, not realizing that it is this way because you are wearing green glasses. If students are simply learning things such as subjects in isolation, tolerance, and self-fulfillment they are not learning HOW to learn and how to LOVE learning! This is exactly what classical education equips its students to do: Live a life of learning and service to the glory of God.
A Classical Christian education intentionally molds students to virtue; to love God and neighbors, as well as love truth, beauty, and goodness. Subjects are not taught in isolation, instead subjects are interrelated and taught more holistically. Skills taught at a K-12 classical Christian school turn into habits. Academic and scriptural concepts examined in multifaceted ways produce lifelong understanding. A Classical Christian education is like offering students a feast, while modern education only offers crumbs. Classical teachers irrigate deserts, they do not cut down jungles. Students learn to love learning and to connect all truth, beauty, and goodness with Christ, and they are dignified with meaningful work. I don’t know any parents who would offer their child a crumb when a feast is available. Why should education be any different?
Make no mistake, there is no neutral ground concerning this subject. True Classical Christian education intentionally and consciously makes every effort to go the opposite direction of modern education. Classical Christian schools do not ‘teach to the test’, they teach to wisdom, understanding and Christian character. We must! It is not possible to have middle ground. Classical Christian does not mean just doing it better than the school down the street. The education we offer must fit the classical model for the purpose of intentionally molding students to love learning and love God.
The modern education, “green” glasses you are wearing may be making it hard for you to completely appreciate all that I have said, and so I challenge you to continue researching Classical Christian education by reading such books as, “Recovering The Lost Tools of Learning” by Douglas Wilson, as inspired by Dorothy Sayers, and gain an understanding of the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness in C.S. Lewis’, “The Abolition of Man.”
Giving my best,
Holly White, Kindergarten Teacher
Redeemer Christian School