The Fair Market Value of a Classical Christian Education

What is the fair market value of a Classical Christian Education? An alumnus from our sister classical school, Westminster Academy, in Memphis, TN – whose goals are parallel to ours – wrote his thoughts about this question in a recent issue of The Classical Difference magazine which I would greatly encourage you to set aside a few moments to read.
One important question to be asked in determining the “fair market value” for our product would be this: by what standard is that value being measured? To answer this question, we need a seemingly unrelated starting point. As a school, we are aiming for two things. First, we are seeking to glorify God through the Christ-centered, classical training of children. Second, we are aiming to graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning equipped for service in love to God and man. These are kingdom focused aims which are not always able to be seen by typical methods of evaluating the fair market value of our product. But, I believe that these aims are the things for which we ought to be seeking – in fulfilling our God given mandate (Ephesians 6:4) -; and as such, it is a blessing to see an alumnus of the Classical Christian model who has taken the time to discuss his thoughts on how his own life has been set on a particular trajectory since his graduation from high school.

Learning to Love What Must Be Done

As an antidote to the selfcentered, “have it your way” culture in which we live, take a moment to consider the following from the German poet Goethe. He writes, “Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do, and learn to love what must be done.  

This is no doubt challenging, but Goethe points us toward a proper theology of work for our day to day lives.  Can we see the tasks before us, especially the difficult tasks, as those things which actually work together for our good? Or can we only find satisfaction in the more obvious and immediate pleasures that we crave? And what would we say knowing that our short term desires often leave us deeply dissatisfied in the end?

Our brother and fellow laborer, Christopher Perrin, wrote an article with the same title as this blog post. It is well worth the read. “Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.” Proverbs 15:21

Polluting the Shadows

As the Lord allows, please take two minutes of your time to watch the video at the link here.  The script of the video is from Nate Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, and it briefly encapsulates the aim we have in our classical Christian school: viz. to graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning equipped for polluting the shadows in loving service to both God and man. In thinking about these things, I pray that your heart is encouraged to remember that our earnest aim, every single day, is to thoroughly disciple a generation – in the training and admonition of the Lord – that serves the city of man foremost by always pointing them to the Author of our unshakable heavenly city (Hebrews 11:14-16).

Excelsior ad Dei gloriam!

 

Lifelong Learning

The vision of Pinnacle Classical Academy is to graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning equipped for service in love to both God and man.  One of my greatest joys in being involved in seeing this vision through at PCA in Little Rock  is that our vision is one that others in our nation also hold.  There are an ever increasing number of classical Christian schools in our country who are pursuing the same Christ-honoring, time-tested vision for the students they serve.  One such school – and in particular one family from that school – has graciously shared their own lives concerning the value of pursuing a lifelong love of learning.  And rather than summarize their story here, I want to simply link you to it for your joy in our great God.  Before you click through to read it though, I do want to note that the story is a sobering reminder about the necessity of setting our sights upon that which is eternal rather than frittering away our time with that which will fade away.  Nevertheless, I ought not to apologize to you for the fact that it is sober, since we certainly are commanded in His Word to “[be] sober-minded,” as we “set [our] hope fully on the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13 ESV).  This is not to say that we cannot also rejoice and be joyful, but instead to remind us that being sober and sobered are life-giving endeavors for the child of God.

Grace and peace to you this week from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Chad Muller

Principal

Program computers, educate children

As you are going about your busy summer, when you have a few moments of down time, consider spending them chewing on the thoughts that Eric Metaxas has for us about the way in which we are “fearfully and wonderfully” made in the image of our Creator.  Thank you as well to David Goodwin, president of the ACCS, for linking us to this article through The Classical Difference website – to which I would also avail you should you find a few more moments of “free time.”

As brevity is the soul of wit, and this post on our blog is meant to serve as a hook, I will leave you with the following thoughts from a fellow laborer in Classical Christian education regarding the Metaxas article:

Classical Christian educators know that the human soul needs nourishing and nurturing toward virtue and Christ’s truth, not training like a computer.  This breakpoint makes the point well.  While teaching data, information, and skills to children in school may seem like it accomplishes something, in reality it dehumanizes them.  Classical education begins with a knowledge of who children are so that we can rightly educate them.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Chad Muller

Principal

Pinnacle Classical Academy

Thinking Redemptively About the Arts

“Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality.  We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole of man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives and for our culture.” – Francis Schaeffer Art and the Bible

As a classical Christian school, it is our lofty aim to see our students become disciples of Christ who delight in taking all things captive unto obedience in Christ.  Jesus is truly Lord of all as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, and helping our students see that every single aspect of life is His is our chief directive.  Indeed, this is our delight.

One aspect of creation that we ought to be engaging for God’s glory is the arts: including but not limited to sculpture, painting, poetry, music, drama, and film.  And when I say engaging, I do not mean only creating these works ourselves, but also approaching and enjoying these things as made in our culture.  To quote Francis Schaeffer, “A Christian should use [the] arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.  An art work can be a doxology in itself.”

It is also important for Christians to note that the excellence of a piece of art can be interpreted to the praise of our God even if that art was not made specifically for that purpose. Take the movie Finding Nemo as a case in point: even though the love that Marlin has for Nemo causes him to prevent Nemo from living his life to the fullest, it is that same love that causes Marlin to travel an incredible distance to come to the rescue of his son – and the parallel (even though the writers of the story may not have intended it)  can certainly be drawn here to our Father’s love and actions towards His wayward children.  And while the analogy between Marlin and our Father is not exact, – as God’s love does not cause him to act in a manner that is not ultimately beneficial for us – we are not amiss to draw it to one aspect of His love.  “[This] is not [to say] that every use of any of these art forms is automatically right, but that they are not wrong per se.”  Overall, we must aim to be thoroughly Gospel-centric in our thinking about the world that we observe and the art that we create.

So, let us aim to go ever higher in our regard for the Author of all beauty as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways – whether enjoying, creating, or talking about art – in order that He would make our paths straight.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Contextualizing the Trivium

Recently, one of our upper school teachers came up with a neat little turn of phrase that he is applying in his 5th & 6th grade history class:  All of your answers will be questioned.  And while the students have somewhat chafed at the idea that all of their answers will be questioned, the fact that they will be required not only to supply the answer to a question but also to substantiate that answer is one of the main aims of a classical Christian education.  An attempt at applying the turn of phrase across the trivium might look something like this:

Grammar: All of your questions will be answered.

Logic: All of your answers will be questioned.

Rhetoric: All of your questions will be questioned.

These phrases might seem a bit silly, but I think that they serve as simple summaries for understanding and explaining the classical philosophy of education.  In the grammar stage, for instance, we are helping the students get their feet underneath them as they use their God-given gift to memorize and recite information at will: All of your questions will be answered.  As an example, if you were to ask one of our kindergarten students how many days there are in a week, they would immediately sing to you about the fact that there are seven days in the week.

In the logic stage, we are challenging the students to use their readiness to argue and debate by defending the answers that they supply to the questions that are being asked: All of your answers will be questioned.  In our 5th and 6th grade literature class, the students are often asked analysis questions about the novel that they are reading which require them not only to state what a certain character did but also to provide the reason why that character acted in that way.

In the rhetoric stage, the students are being further sculpted by our requiring them not only to defend their answers, but also to be able to find answers to their questioners – those who oppose their position: All of your questions will be questioned.  In our highschool Omnibus class, – history, literature, and theology meshed together – they have been working through student led discussions of the texts that they are reading.  During these times, the students are required to prepare questions through which they will guide the whole class.  Part of being a good leader of these discussion times also involves the student being ready to defend why he or she has posed a question in a certain way.  Having this ability to not only defend your answers but also to defend the questions that you are asking, is a quintessential component of eloquent communication.      

Now you might be saying to yourself, “This is all well and good, but what prevents all of this questioning from becoming a source of endless frustration for the students and a catalyst for unhealthy competition?”  The only thing that keeps this paradigm from becoming endlessly grueling is the fact that they are being questioned in love, through grace, and with their good growth in Christ-likeness as the motivation.  Indeed, a classical education that is not Christian is an education that is rigorous without having the true end for which all education has been created in view.  As everything that we see is from our King, sustained by our King, and has been made for our King, to engage in the vigorous sculpting of young people simply for the sake of their being sculpted is a vain – and painful – endeavor.  But since we are doing everything that we are by His grace, for His glory, and for our joy in Christ, we have a hope that all of our efforts are not in vain.  Instead, the enterprise in which we are engaged is fruitful for His kingdom for the question answer-ers, the answer question-ers, and for those who are growing into question-ers of questions.

 
Excelsior ad Dei gloriam!

Composition Classically Structured for God Glorifying Communication

In the 6th-8th grades at our school, the students work through a composition class called Chreia/Maxim. This class requires the students to take a saying and expand upon it. An example of this would be to take the saying “Good trees bear good fruit” and to use five paragraphs to connect it to other ideas. These could include the students’ experiences, information outside the immediate context of the saying itself, – such as how Scripture interprets Scripture – and the ways in which seemingly unrelated disciplines come to bear upon the concept: e.g. how even a cursory study of botany informs the understanding of the above saying.

For His glory and our joy, the following is a piece that was written, critiqued, rewritten, and presented as a collective effort by three of our current Chreia/Maxim students.   It was also presented by those students at our Christmas Recitation, and the reason that we share it here is threefold:

  • First, God is and was magnified by the Biblical exhortation that these students gave, and we pray that it would be an encouragement to you as well.

  • Second, we want to share an example of the standard of excellence into which the students at PCA are growing.

  • Finally, we want to publicly congratulate these students on their diligent and exceptional work.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” This tells us that God is like a strong tower to which one may run in the storms of life. When one is close with God and believes in Him, one will be saved. For He is our refuge and grounds for rejoicing!

God will keep us safe forever, if we believe in Him. He will be like a strong tower to which we run.  God does all of this because He is righteous, humble, loving, and kind.  So, if we run to God for refuge we will be safe.

Non-believers will not be saved, and they will not be protected if they pridefully refuse to run to God. If they do not, they will die because God only saves those who delight and trust in Him.  Non-believers do not run to God because they pridefully trust in themselves.

In the storms of life, one tries to find shelter.  One fearfully wanders in the storm to find protection and safety.  Just like this, God shelters people from trouble if they trust in Him to be their refuge.

In 1 Samuel when Saul got angry with David, David was scared. So, God sent the son of Saul, Jonathan, to help David sneak away from the King of Israel.  Without Jonathan, David would not have lived.  God helps us in the same way by when we run to Him He saves us.

Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”  We need to trust God by loving Him and running to Him.  Remember, He is our great refuge.  Jesus came to earth to die for our sins in our stead.  Therefore, He is our refuge from Hell.

People of God, heed these words!  God does save the people who seek His refuge. Jesus came to the world to save us and be our strong tower.

Composition to the Glory of God

The middle school stage in classical education is also known as the logic stage. The logic stage is characterized by processing, synthesizing, and interpreting information. It is the stage during which students work through putting together the information that they have learned, rather than leaving that information disjointed. It is also where students begin to think critically about ideas: relating knowledge from one course of study to another and growing to show the interrelationship of coursework across all subjects.

In the 6th-8th grades at our school, the students work through a composition class called Chreia/Maxim. This class requires the students to take a saying and expand upon it. An example of this would be to take the saying “Good trees bear good fruit” and to use five paragraphs to connect it to other ideas. These could include the students’ experiences, information outside the immediate context of the saying itself, – such as how Scripture interprets Scripture – and the ways in which seemingly unrelated disciplines come to bear upon the concept: e.g. how even a cursory study of botany informs the understanding of the above saying.

Now, you might wonder how this course does not become an incoherent mess of ideas – since we are talking about middle schoolers writing about sayings in light of their experiences. Well, the beauty of the timing of this course – i.e. in its placement within the K-12 classical framework – is that it falls upon students who are wired to connect the new ideas that they encounter with the things that they already know. This is not to say that the students are naturally well reasoned in their thoughts, but instead to say that their minds are malleable towards proper reasoning. As such, it is our great delight to see students not only writing their own explanations of particular sayings, but also constructively critiquing one another’s pieces. And this writing, receiving criticism, and writing again are precisely the kind of tools that they will need for their continued learning far beyond the walls of our classrooms.

Excelsior ad Dei gloriam!

Mr Irby's Homeroom

Points of Excellence

Christmas and Spring Recitations are an integral part of our school calendar here at PCA, and I would like to take a moment of your time to talk about why.

Another brother in the classical Christian education movement has called events like these “Points of Excellence.” He sees these as a way to help others understand classical Christian education through beauty and excellence that make a lasting impression. Indeed, as beauty is visible to all, even those who are not familiar with classical Christian education, “Points of Excellence” serve as a great way in which we can show forth our school for God’s glory.

One of the things that I am insistent upon with the students concerning recitations is that they are primarily for God’s glory. To put it another way, we put together recitations twice a year as points that show forth God’s excellence: the excellence of His greatness through all of creation. Truly, we can only memorize, recite, dramatize, and declare the things that we have learned because of His sustaining might every step of the way, and so our showcasing of classical Christian education is not for the expansion of Pinnacle Classical Academy. Instead, we are always and only putting together “Points of Excellence” for the expansion of God’s kingdom through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that your hearts may be encouraged to know that our partnership in education is always – from individual classes to school-wide presentations – aiming for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in our lives and the lives of all of those around us.

May it be so, Lord!
Excelsior ad Dei Gloriam!

KindergartenChristmasRecitation-2014