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15 October 2015

What’s the Question?

every day in my class, someone raises their hand to ask a question, but forgets it once called upon. A familiar blank stare looks back at me, and, in confusion, the student says, “I forgot my question.”  Such is the case with education today. There was once a pressing question, one that drove educators and students toward a grand answer, but The Great Question has been lost and another has taken its place.
I recently asked some friends what they thought The Question of education is. What drives education today? Some though it was money, others thought it was testing, but I think it runs deeper than both of those.

Schools are really struggling to make a change. They are working to improve end results, but the bottom line is still – what are they after? My suspicion is that today’s public (and some private) educators want two things for their students: They want students ready for college and students who have been socially engineered to be anti-Judeo-Christian-valued, “tolerant”, “progressive”. By “ready for college,” I don’t mean ready to learn, but ready to decide a career path. If The Question of education is, “How can we have graduating seniors prepared to choose a career while being ‘tolerant’ or ‘progressive’?” the path that gets students to that point must be very different than that of our predecessors who were interested in actually instilling Judeo-Christian values who loved the Good, the Beautiful and the True.

Our answer to what drives education determines the classes, the method, and the content. For instance, I was curious to see how typical high schools are helping students to answer their Question, so I did a quick search of available public high school class choices. Here are a few that I found:

Language Arts: Language and Gender – Intro to Gender Stereotyping
Learning American English & Culture from Movies
Art: Breaking into the Fashion Industry
Art of the Graphic Novel
Film and Television
Music / History: The History of Rock and Roll
Hotel and Restaurant Management

Not only are the class choices reflective of an attempt to answer their Question, the methods, and content are as well. In one article, an author describes an American History teacher who allows students to flip over desks and shoot paper wads at each other as a way to connect to the stories of the American Revolution. At the public high school just a few blocks from me, the nation’s first transgender homecoming queen was elected by the student body. They’re making progress towards their goal.

But what was the question in days gone by? It was a question of learning, thinking, and virtue. What one became wasn’t nearly as important as who one became. The Question of a classical education “Who will you be when you grow up?” determines a much different course with different methods, than “What will you be when you grow up?” In order to entertain the “who” question, we must agree upon what the “end result”, the “final product”, the “end man” should be. Thus, if we are united in faith, we can agree – one who takes on Christ, values what God values, loves what God loves, and sets himself apart for the purpose of bringing glory to Him – a good man.

What, then, would a good man value? Hard work? Respect? Honor? Kindness? Justice? Goodness? Generosity? Humility? Friendship? Compassion? Diligence? Perseverance? Wisdom? Truth? Patience? All of these! Can these things be learned through the common topics that a classroom brings? Yes, indeed they can! And each, in a classical Christian school, is built on how they are defined in scripture, not in the public square. So, while the children and young men and women at FCA are learning to read, they are also building a moral imagination. They are studying western civilization and the ideas that formed it. While they do homework that makes them wrestle with ideas or with themselves, they are learning more than facts for a test or how to duck a spit wad. While they win and lose on teams, they are building character under the watchful eye of their teachers and coaches. So if you have wondered from time to time why you struggle through the difficulties of this three-day-a-week classical Christian school, know this: The path we take to answer the Question, is a much different one – one worth taking because The Question is worth asking.


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