Aim High, and Get There

Humans are quick-fix oriented by nature, and we live in a quick-fix culture. We want a formula to plug our problem into, and then we'll solve for success. With just the right program, you can turn the Achievement Crank. In fact, instead of being counter-cultural, this is sometimes exactly what we do with classical Christian education (CCE). We see it as a vending machine. Put in your tuition payments, and out bumps a well-educated kid.

Success? Sometimes, it's more like a mangled kid caught in the gears. They somehow turn out hating whatever we've taught them.

So here are some quick reminders about what CCE isn't, and a few reminders about what it is, and what we should keep doing.

What CCE isn't, and doesn't:

1) CCE didn't die on the cross for your kids' sins. It's an excellent method, and a great gift from God, but it doesn't create saints. (The work of the Holy Spirit does.) If we put classical education in the place of Christ and his Church, we'll produce the opposite of what we want.

2) CCE shouldn't be educational syncretism. Classical education is time-tested, which means it doesn't need much tweaking. It must teach today's student, not yesterday's, but it must not have flavors of other educational models. To tweak Chesterton, "Classical education has not been tried and found wanting; it has occasionally been found difficult and left untried." Let's go whole-hog, long-term, without looking to the right or to the left.

3) CCE isn't a Preschool-12th thing. It's a life pursuit. Because it aims to shape hearts and create life-long learners, we should think of CCE in terms of paideia, as a life culture. This means thinking about classical Christian colleges, and about our own classical pursuits as adults.

And few good reminders:

1) Shape your child's affections. Nothing competes with love. "You are what you love," says James K. A. Smith, and this goes for CCE. Do our kids love it? If they don't, it's pretty useless. Help shape their affections by lots of prayer, laughter, and light hearts. 

2) Aim high. Christian art and culture today is not up to par. Nonchristians produce better music and movies, and they've got a monopoly on cultural influence. This is because Christians are content with mediocre academic goals, mediocre colleges, and mediocre careers. We can do better. Set high goals for your kids for God's glory, and for cultural transformation.

3) Get there. Goals are nothing without follow-through. Robert P. George has said, "There is nothing so successful as success." Christ said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Aim high -- and then require your kids to get there, by hook or by crook. They can do it.