We’re surrounded. In facing a global pandemic, we’re bombarded with incomplete information and expected to sort fact from fiction. How is it possible to reconcile confusing, sometimes contradictory, warnings we get from politicians, news outlets, social media, the medical community, and even our friends and neighbors?
We process the world through filters we’ve acquired throughout life. Predominant among those filters is education, which comes in a variety of forms. Some focus on the individual, others the group. Some focus on the utilitarian goal of securing a specific job, others instruct broadly on many academic disciplines. Some center on religious values, others strive to remove religion altogether.
In an atmosphere of fear and information overload, classical Christian education is a powerful instrument in strengthening both mind and heart. So, what is classical Christian education and how can it help as the world wrestles with COVID-19?
What is classical Christian education?
While a more complex answer exists, I offer you a simple one. A classical Christian education is well-rounded and instructs students in the core disciplines of natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities where God, as the creator of all, is the center of wisdom and virtue. This type of education isn’t vocationally focused, but equips students with critical thinking, discernment, and effective communication that is applicable to any pursuit in life.
How can classical Christian education help as the world wrestles with COVID-19?
While there are many ways that COVID-19 may be processed through the filter of a classical Christian education, I offer four considerations to better understand concerns surrounding the virus.
- The holistic nature of classical Christian education favors the broad-based interrelation of subjects over compartmentalized thinking. While secularism pulls us toward political, economic, social, and medical segmentation, classical Christian thinking encourages us to see the interconnectedness of these areas and their relevance to the divine. In a classical Christian school, it isn’t unusual to hear interdisciplinary phrases such as the beauty of mathematics or the geometry of art. Similarly, it is incomplete thinking at best, and dangerous at worst, if we think of COVID-19 as a medical or economic or social or spiritual issue rather than a medical and economic and social and spiritual issue.
- A classical Christian education provides discernment in language, thought, and the processing of information. The term often associated with this discernment is rhetoric. To clarify, rhetoric in this instance isn’t referring to persuasive speech, rather it’s understanding words and how they’re used. This allows for clarity in communication and better understanding of concepts. In an ocean of data concerning the communicability and potential impact of COVID-19, being able to critically analyze information allows us to prioritize what is most relevant to our collective well-being.
- Classical Christian education reminds us that we are the most recent link in a chain of men and women who succeeded despite seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s an education that appreciates and provides context for the development of thought over the centuries. While we have seen tremendous advances in our understanding of our world, and especially in technology, over the last few decades, an ugly facet of modernity is the tendency toward self-centeredness. It encourages us to believe that those who have gone before us hold little bearing on our lives. COVID-19 is neither the first hardship we have faced on a global scale, nor will it likely be the last. But, with God’s providence, we will face it with the same courage of those who preceded us.
- An inherent characteristic of classical Christian education is its adaptability to change. Because of its well-rounded approach to educating the mind, and its grounding in Scripture that informs the heart, students are equipped with a broad-base of knowledge and a moral compass to engage changing circumstances. Relevant to COVID-19, we don’t know what to fully expect or what changes we may be facing. Individuals equipped with a classical Christian education are poised to persevere through hardship and find stability in the wake of it.
Preparing students with faith and a complete foundation of learning is the greatest gift we can provide our future and our greatest opportunity for a healthy society. Through discernment of information, the inspiration of past generations who persevered, and the ability to adapt, classical Christian education is a beacon as COVID-19 spreads. It equips us to fight fear and anxiety with knowledge and compassion, and it allows us to stand confidently against the unknown.
Visit us online to learn more about the impact of a classical Christian education at one of the premier college-preparatory schools in Houston, Texas.
Danny Kahalley, Director of Admissions at Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School, has fifteen years of experience in education administration and has worked for numerous schools and colleges in Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas at the primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level. He has his bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College and master’s degree from the University of Alabama.
- Classical Education