Philosophy of Education
A Christian and classical school is part of a growing movement in America. It is one that is thoroughly Christian in its worldview and operates with a healthy respect for the historical and cultural heritage in which God has providentially placed us. A classical Christian school does not try to wed the philosophy of Athens and Jerusalem, but it does shamelessly bring that great scholarly inheritance of the Western world under the dominion of Christ Himself. Our approach is pre-eminently Christian, so let us first consider what we mean by that term.
Philosophy of Christian Education
A Christian school is an institution that operates in the context of Biblical truth with the goal of glorifying the risen Savior in all things. Since the Bible puts the responsibility of educating children in the sphere of the home (, a Christian school operates as an aid to parents with delegated authority. This institution works with parents to teach children the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will enable them to think and act biblically in this fallen world. It desires that each child will develop into a humble and responsible adult.
The school aims to help children, by the grace of God, to live like Christ and grow in favor in the eyes of God and men. It is staffed by mature Christians. These Christian scholars possess the gifts to teach children with wisdom and discernment. It does not ignore the sovereign workings of God in creation and providence but conscientiously reveals all things under the Lordship of Christ. The Christian school will not isolate children from the present culture, but instead will teach children to engage this current age with godly ambition and Biblical perspectives. It takes seriously the command to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37-38).
We desire an educational institution that will honor and exalt the God of our salvation. This institution will constantly bring the Word of God before the student and teach every discipline under the light of Scripture for His glory. For example:
Students should learn to read well because God has revealed Himself in the written word. Phonics and Grammar are taught so that students understand the mechanics of the written word and will be well equipped to read and understand God’s revelation. At the higher grades students read secular literature and learn to critique its content and appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.
Science and Math
Psalm 111:2 proclaims, “The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.” God’s wondrous creation is ours to discover. The study of its mysteries should make us wonder at God’s greatness and move us to worship Him. In the Christian school, science is much more than just refuting the fallacy of Darwinism. The sciences are the diligent study of God’s creative and sustaining work in which He has revealed His own glorious wisdom and might.
Psalm 111 also declares that His works are to be remembered. In Psalm 143:5 David sings, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your works; I muse on the work of your hands.” History is another study of the works of God, not in creation but in providence. It really is HIS story. All of human events reveal God’s providential dealings with man. It honestly looks at the events and people (both sinners and saints) that God used to shape the story of mankind.
When God finished creating, He said that it was good. Like our Father, we should create. Furthermore, we should create in such a way that we recognize and appreciate that which is good, beautiful, and sublime.
Our bodies as well as our minds are a stewardship; both should be developed rigorously to serve God and man. Hard work, discipline, cooperation, and sacrifice are all aspects of Christian education.
Philosophy of Classical Education
A classical Christian school is one that goes about its Christian mission with a certain methodology and curricular approach. One would expect it to emphasize rigorous academics and “old books,” but it is much more. When we talk about a classical education, we have several distinctive features in mind, including its cultural focus, its subjects, and and its methodology
A classical education unashamedly places an emphasis on Western culture. The material that makes up its curriculum will focus on the canon of “Great Books” and seeks to understand the ideas that have shaped our present culture. Providentially, Christianity was born in the classical world and then grew throughout medieval Europe and the Reformation. Knowledge of our own heritage is worth having. It is also worth examining under the light of scripture to praise and build on its strengths and to critique and correct its deficiencies.
Special Subjects: Latin, Logic, and Rhetoric
A classical education includes several unique disciplines in addition to the typical course load. At Bradford Academy, students learn Latin as the foundation for understanding language, for development of thinking skills, and for connecting modern children to the scholars of the past. Since critical thinking is such an important skill, our students receive dedicated instruction in both formal and informal Logic. Lastly, our students learn the fine art of developing and presenting original thought, both pleasantly and persuasively. This is accomplished in the upper school Rhetoric classes.
In a climate of educational innovation, it is good to know that there is a method that has proven successful. The ancients divided all of learning into seven liberal arts. The first three were known as the TRIVIUM. The Trivium provides a structure and methodology for a strong elementary through high school education. It can be summarized as follows:
|GRAMMAR (K-6th) – Emphasis on rote memorization and accumulation of basic facts and skill sets. Students find enjoyment in singing, chanting, and reciting.
|LOGIC (6th-9th) – Emphasis on the understanding of the relationships among facts and information. Students enjoy arguing, so they are taught how to do it correctly. Formal logic is a part of this stage of learning. Students are taught to take the knowledge learned in the previous stage, work with it, and deepen their own understanding.
|RHETORIC (9th-12th) – Emphasis on creating and expressing one’s self beautifully and persuasively. Students build upon the acquired knowledge, reason through implications, and form and present original thoughts.
In 1949, the author and scholar, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay titled the “Lost Tools of Learning.” It describes this approach to education in detail. You can find a link to the essay here: “The Lost Tools of Learning,” courtesy of the Escondido Tutorial Service.