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bethben

Education from a Christian perspective

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I just need someone to hash this out with.  I’m open to any book suggestions.

I have always been a bit of an education “nerd”.  I graduated college with a teaching degree, I became a youth director because I wanted to teach teens how to think with a Christian foundation, and I did homeschool for 13 years.  As I started to experience some serious burnout as a homeschooler, I wished wished wished there was a classical Christian school that was free.   I am now no longer homeschooling but am wanting to get more heavily involved in my kid’s very classical charter school.  It is the closest thing to what I dreamed about as can get in a public institution.  I may try to get on the board of this school eventually.  
 

Here’s my dilemma and struggle.  Is secular education “worthy” in God’s kingdom?  I guess a similar question could be asked by my friend who is a mayor of a small town or any job really.  This school is helping a very middle class population.  Because of the sponsoring agency, Hillsdale, it has attracted a more than usual amount of former homeschoolers and thereby a higher than normal amount of adopted kids.  That being said, I need to know for my sake if this is worthy of my time.  My church is moving toward a focus on racial equity and the marginalized in society.  I “want” to feel excited about those things, but this education thing has been a running theme throughout my life.  Due to life circumstances, I know at this point, I will not be driving to the downtown area of our city to tutor disadvantaged children.  I need to stay close to home for my sanity right now.

So, book suggestions?  Help with getting me to think through this a bit?  I know this is a homeschool forum but I can’t think of anyone who is as invested in education as you all are.  I also need to know that a classical education really does produce a “better” child than the school down the street (character—ability to think etc).  Also, why does a classical education matter? Let’s say every kind of school had really kind children consistently, why a classical education vs. common core for example?

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For starters while I"m on hold on the phone:

1. Common core and classical are education models. Neither is "better" or "worse" in a moral perspective than the other. Well-balanced. lovely children can emerge from all sorts of environments. Some people prefer one over the other for all kinds of reasons. I suspect that while a classical education has advantages that it also has disadvantages. 

2. If you feel a calling toward this school and working toward education in this model, then who is to say that it's not as "worthy" as serving inner city kids? I have a friend who works in a Christian school. It's the only private school in our little town and also for about 15 miles. She says that fully half of her students are unchurched. No Christian exposure at home whatsoever. They are there because its NOT a public school. Not because the families see value in the Christian viewpoint. It's likely that despite their upbringing, these kids need guidance and teachers that are passionate as well. 

These are my initial thoughts. 

 

I'll come back.

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I wish I could think of a good book on vocation but I can't right now.

However, my best summary of it is--your vocation should be approached as 'Whatever you be, be a good one".  God uses your service to bless your neighbors. You do not have to Christianize everything in order for it to have value in God's kingdom.  You have to serve faithfully in your stations in life and pray that God will use your service to further His kingdom.  Remember, this is the God who makes the rain to fall upon the good and the evil alike.  In faithfully serving in your vocations, you do honor to Him.

Regarding whether a classical education creates good people, the answer is not automatically.  Nothing is automatic in life.  But focussing on the true, good, and beautiful, and on virtue, at least instills knowledge of those things, which is better than not.  

Regarding whether a classical education is of value to everyone, yes, I believe that it is.  I think that even if a bricklayer does not use it as directly as a teacher might, being exposed to a rigorous education tends to lead to good citizens no matter what their vocations, and tends to enhance everyone's thought life and adorn everyone with access to noble ideas.

You might want to read "Simply Classical"--I recommend it for the issue of whether classical education has value to all.

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All models fail some kids and work really well with others because they are implemented by humans. All models have a start and end point and methodology. I think we can apply Christian character, values, and virtues to most models and most implementations. I think people can use models and implement methodology while totally forgetting Christian character, values, and virtues. 

So, implementation and methodology seems more like where you want to apply the measuring stick, IMO. 

Subject matter can be Christian while simultaneously driving people away with flawed, unjust, or obtuse implementation and methodology, and IMO, that's about the worst scenario you can get. 

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Why would a focus on racial equity or the presence of adopted children (who I presume offer additional racial/ethnic diversity) be in conflict with a good education, a classical education, a Christian education, or even a 'good' education? All information about God's kingdom and its people is 'worthy' in that it merits recognition and study even if one does not subscribe to or believe in any particular ideology. There are many religious students who attend secular schools. 

Edited by Sneezyone

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I am not Christian.   But there is a K-12 public classic charter in our urban area and it has been around for many years at this point.  I've known many kids who have gone through that school.  But I have also known many kids who've graduated from other local public  and private schools.  Does the classical charter graduate "better" kids?  Meh - no.  I really dislike the use of the word "better" here.  The classical charter undoubtedly has a highersocio economic families than some other urban public schools so on paper, those kids do better.  But the kids with engaged parents and reasonable financial resources attending other schools also are great kids who do well and are well educated.   And I'm not saying there aren't kids in poverty that aren't doing great.  But I think when you don't have food or housing security, worrying about your ACT score is just going to be lower priority and you may not have access to resources or time or guidance to do as well academically.  Families that have the ability to apply to a lottery school and transport their kids there are already doing better than some families in PS who do not have that ability.

I think a purely classical model of education is not a fit for every kid or family.  We have homeschooled (my oldest attended PS for 2 years) throughout and there have been times when we've modified from it.  I have out of the box kids that don't necessarily align well with the boxes in classical model nor would they do well with that much output or structure in their education.   I know people who've pulled out of our classic charter and would review it very poorly.  Actually, my biggest problem with this public charter is they have a long waiting list every year.  There are a number of magnets and charters with that "problem".  So when there are haves and have nots in public education, I have a problem with it.  I actually think our whole education system needs an overhaul, but that's another topic.

Many people using that magnet and other public schools are religious and are raising their kids in a strong religious tradition.  I think being well educated is just good for you and it's good for society as a whole.  No matter what your final vocation is.  But I think in general, kids with parents who value education and are willing to sink time, energy and resources to educate their kids are going to do well regardless of what educational path they chose.  There are strong studies linking socioeconomic status and education level.  I think if this model is working for your kids and this season of life dictates your involvement there, I think that can be a good use of time and energies.  The people who founded our classical charter were originally religious homeschoolers who clearly found it a worthy pursuit.   

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I'm confused about the use of the term "classical." Does this have anything to do with the classics, as in Greek philosophy, mathematics/geometry and mythology? Perhaps there is another meaning to the idea of classical charter school?

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Classical as in well trained mind classical.   Early grades have emphasis on history, phonics, poetry memorization, sentence diagramming, Singapore math (US edition) among other things.  In sixth grade, they start learning Latin.  7th -8th grade is American history learning from founding fathers original documents.  9th and up, there is an emphasis on western thought starting with early Greek philosophers and Roman civilization ending with the 20th century.  It is my ideal homeschool sequencing without having to actually do it.  
I do love what they are trying to achieve at this school and I want to get behind it to help it’s long term success.  It just seems somewhat unimportant when you put it up against many of the social issues of our time.  But, it’s what I know and am passionate about.  I know that there are tons of educational models out there and all sorts of great people can graduate from those other models.  But this type of school I personally believe in.  

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57 minutes ago, bethben said:

Classical as in well trained mind classical.   Early grades have emphasis on history, phonics, poetry memorization, sentence diagramming, Singapore math (US edition) among other things.  In sixth grade, they start learning Latin.  7th -8th grade is American history learning from founding fathers original documents.  9th and up, there is an emphasis on western thought starting with early Greek philosophers and Roman civilization ending with the 20th century.  It is my ideal homeschool sequencing without having to actually do it.  
I do love what they are trying to achieve at this school and I want to get behind it to help it’s long term success.  It just seems somewhat unimportant when you put it up against many of the social issues of our time.  But, it’s what I know and am passionate about.  I know that there are tons of educational models out there and all sorts of great people can graduate from those other models.  But this type of school I personally believe in.  

God gave us all different gifts and passions. In the Catholic tradition this is referred to as a "charism". If God gave you a gift and passion, a charism, for education, than that is what you should do! To turn your back on that is to reject the way God made you. 

If everyone went and tutored only underprivileged kids in the inner city, who would teach the other kids? Who would make the bread? Who would build the houses? 

We all have different jobs, and we can all glorify God in them. 

Maybe one of the books about monastics, about glorifying God in the mundane would help?

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2 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

God gave us all different gifts and passions. In the Catholic tradition this is referred to as a "charism". If God gave you a gift and passion, a charism, for education, than that is what you should do! To turn your back on that is to reject the way God made you. 

If everyone went and tutored only underprivileged kids in the inner city, who would teach the other kids? Who would make the bread? Who would build the houses? 

We all have different jobs, and we can all glorify God in them. 

Maybe one of the books about monastics, about glorifying God in the mundane would help?

Brother Lawrence comes to mind. 

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3 hours ago, bethben said:

I just need someone to hash this out with.  I’m open to any book suggestions.

I have always been a bit of an education “nerd”.  I graduated college with a teaching degree, I became a youth director because I wanted to teach teens how to think with a Christian foundation, and I did homeschool for 13 years.  As I started to experience some serious burnout as a homeschooler, I wished wished wished there was a classical Christian school that was free.   I am now no longer homeschooling but am wanting to get more heavily involved in my kid’s very classical charter school.  It is the closest thing to what I dreamed about as can get in a public institution.  I may try to get on the board of this school eventually.  
 

Here’s my dilemma and struggle.  Is secular education “worthy” in God’s kingdom?  I guess a similar question could be asked by my friend who is a mayor of a small town or any job really.  This school is helping a very middle class population.  Because of the sponsoring agency, Hillsdale, it has attracted a more than usual amount of former homeschoolers and thereby a higher than normal amount of adopted kids.  That being said, I need to know for my sake if this is worthy of my time.  My church is moving toward a focus on racial equity and the marginalized in society.  I “want” to feel excited about those things, but this education thing has been a running theme throughout my life.  Due to life circumstances, I know at this point, I will not be driving to the downtown area of our city to tutor disadvantaged children.  I need to stay close to home for my sanity right now.

So, book suggestions?  Help with getting me to think through this a bit?  I know this is a homeschool forum but I can’t think of anyone who is as invested in education as you all are.  I also need to know that a classical education really does produce a “better” child than the school down the street (character—ability to think etc).  Also, why does a classical education matter? Let’s say every kind of school had really kind children consistently, why a classical education vs. common core for example?

Regarding the bolded, I don't think you can feel assured about that. Because it is not true.

As for the rest, it sounds to me like your church wants the congregation to join together in a certain area of volunteerism. And that, for various reasons, you feel called to volunteer for the classical school instead.

I think everyone has different passions, and that it's fine to spend your volunteer hours on the school instead of with your church. If people at the church will be judgey about that and make you feel like you are not contributing (just speculating about what could be making you feel uncomfortable), then I think you can find ways to address that with them, firmly but respectfully, by practicing what you might say when questioned. I can freeze and not know what to say about certain things, so it helps me to practice my responses, sometimes.

If your struggle with this is internal, rather than coming from the church, you can pray about it and remind yourself that God gives us a variety of gifts, and He does not expect us all to serve Him and the community in identical ways. You have limited time, and it's acceptable to use it for a project you are passionate about, and that is good (educating children), even if it is not associated with a Christian organization.

Yes, volunteering in secular education is worthy. Children are worthy of investment, whether you interact with them in a way that is church related or not.

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what do you consider secular education?  it used to be - education, including in the sciences and math - were taught at religious colleges. (well, most colleges were religious colleges.)   

speaking as a devout Christian who has two children with/pursing advanced degrees in Science/Engineering.   I believe that all "truth", fits together.  if it doesn't fit, one or both "understandings" are wrong.  

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16 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

what do you consider secular education?  it used to be - education, including in the sciences and math - were taught at religious colleges. (well, most colleges were religious colleges.)   

speaking as a devout Christian who has two children with/pursing advanced degrees in Science/Engineering.   I believe that all "truth", fits together.  if it doesn't fit, one or both "understandings" are wrong.  

Secular education -  public school.  Basically, anything that doesn't have "Christian" attached to the banner for what school it is.  I'm not fond of sticking a bible verse on the end of the geography lesson and calling it Christian geography lessons, but many Christian schools do just that.  I guess teaching children from a Biblical viewpoint with intention.  We have found many ways to teach our children our Christian values in the midst of what they are learning because they're excited about what they're learning.  I'm not feeling like I have to unteach them anything.  

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1 hour ago, bethben said:

I do love what they are trying to achieve at this school and I want to get behind it to help it’s long term success.  It just seems somewhat unimportant when you put it up against many of the social issues of our time.  But, it’s what I know and am passionate about.  I know that there are tons of educational models out there and all sorts of great people can graduate from those other models.  But this type of school I personally believe in.  

I think you answered your own question. You're passionate about this issue and it's something you can do well while fulfilling your other obligations. It doesn't matter if it's not the biggest issue of our time, it's something that you are suited to and that fits into your super busy life. Go for it!

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I guess the school is a place I can bring my disabled son (I asked and they’ve met him) and just serve people with what I call grunt work without having to be in charge.  I also can bow out of my volunteering without too much chaos on their part if my son does turn disruptive.  And it does fit in with something I believe in.  I’ve led things in the past that quickly overwhelmed me and still had to finish out the year or the project.  It was too much and I’m a little hesitant even now.  But they know my limitations and know that things may not work out perfectly because I was pretty upfront with them.  I know I can help them with what they said they are needing and I do want to.  

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So...they need help. You can help. And you think God doesn't want you to because????

When the good samaritan stopped to help he wasn't being "Christian" he was being helpful. Helping is good. 

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