Classical Educational Philosophy

     Runnels Academy offers a “Christ-Centered, Classical Education.” This statement represents a two-fold goal by which all efforts are guided. The following article offers a commentary on each facet of this goal, not because the goal is unintelligible or needs to be explained. Rather, it is because the goal is a distilled statement of a particular philosophy which should be understood as the source of the goal. This goal is not a generic truth, but either stands or falls with the philosophy that produced it.

 

CHRIST-CENTERED

In all its levels, programs, and teaching, Runnels Academy seeks to:

 

        I.            Teach all subjects as parts of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center.(II Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 1:15 – 20)

     In order to be Christ-centered, Christian education must be more than a baptized secularism. It is not enough to take the curricula of the government schools, add prayer and a Bible class, and then claim that the result is somehow Christian.

     Secular education places man at the center of all things.   Christian Education places the God/Man at the center. What does this mean?

There is no such thing as neutrality in education. Every fact, every truth is understood in the light of a certain world view. This means that history, art, music, mathematics, etc., must all be taught in the light of God’s existence and His revelation of His son, Jesus Christ. Because the Scriptures occupy a crucial role in teaching us about this revelation, they must also occupy a critical role in Christian education.

     This is not to say that the Bible was meant to be read as a science or mathematics text. It was not. It does, however, provide a framework for understanding these so-called “secular” subjects. Without such a framework for understanding, all subjects will degenerate into chaotic absurdity.

As R. L. Dabney stated, “Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness in its convergency to God, even as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun. If religion be excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal. The structure of thought must remain a truncated cone, with its proper apex lacking.”

     As Christian educators, our goal is not to require the students to spend all of their time gazing at the sun. We want them to examine everything else in the light that the sun provides. It would be invincible folly to try to blacken the sun in order to be able to study the world around us objectively.

Because all truth comes from God, the universe is coherent. Without God, particulars have no relation to other particulars. The universe must, under this understanding, be a multiverse; an infinite array of absurd “facts.” In education, this position leads to the fragmentation of knowledge. History bears no relation to English, and biology no relation to philosophy. 

     Because we have a Christian world view, based on the Scriptures, we are able to give the students a unified education. That unity is only possible because of the centrality of the Scriptures in the educational process. Without that centrality, true education will wither and die. With it, all subjects will be understood, and more importantly, they will be understood as parts of an integrated whole.

 

      II.            Provide a clear model of the biblical Christian life through our staff and board. (Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 5:13-16)

     Education does not exist for its own sake. It is not an exercise conducted on paper. Education occurs when information is transferred from one individual to another. We have already discussed how that information can be a part of an integrated world view. But this by itself is not enough.

     If the subject matter is in line with the Scriptures but the life of the teacher is not, a conflict is created in the mind of the student. What the inconsistent teacher writes on the blackboard and what he lives in the classroom are two different things. This same conflict can be created in the minds of the students and teachers if a board member is living in a manner inconsistent with the Bible.

     When hypocrisy is tolerated, it leads to greater problems. At best, the integrated Christian world view becomes a dead orthodoxy – true words, but only words. At worst, anti-Christian living leads to anti-Christian teaching. The hypocrisy is removed by making the instruction as false as the life.

     As Christian educators, we recognize that hypocrisy on our part will place a stumbling block in the path of the students. The flow of information from teacher to student will be seriously hindered. Because we are in the business of transmitting a Christian world view, we must also be in the business of living exemplary Christian lives.

 

   III.            Encourage every child to begin and develop his relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 19: 13-15)

     Without regeneration, a Christian world view and a Christian lifestyle are nonsensical impossibilities. If a man is dead, it is wasted effort to seek to revive him with a nourishing meal. If the life-principal is absent from the student, no amount of instruction and example on the part of the teacher will give that student life.

     We have the responsibility to plant and water. We also have the responsibility to recognize that growth comes from God. God initiates growth in the life of the individual when he is born again. From that time on, the nourishment of instruction results in genuine growth as the Christian puts what he learns into practice.

     It is not our role as educators to attempt to make God’s work in human lives superfluous. There is no way to perfect human beings by means of instruction – even if that instruction is Christian in content. The error of thinking that education can perfect man is one that was with the government schools at their inception and which still governs their philosophy. to repeat this error – even with Christian instruction – is to create a legalistic atmosphere in the school. This is in contrast to the good news that God offers us in Christ, which will create a moral atmosphere in the school.

     Good instruction is conducive to rational Christian minds and godly Christian lives, but only if it presupposes and is built on the Gospel. This means that if someone hears that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures and that he rose again on the third day, and if that person responds to this message with repentance and belief, then God will give that person eternal life.

     It is our goal to bring every child who does not have a relationship with the Father into such a relationship through Christ. Then, and only then, will the rest of the education that we offer be fully understandable. If the child already knows the Lord, it is our goal to encourage him to develop that relationship. As he grows, the education that he is receiving will further and enhance that growth.

 

CLASSICAL

     As we use the word here, “classical” refers to the structure and form of the education that we provide. It refers also to the content of the studies.

In all its levels, programs, and teaching, Runnels Academy seeks to:

 

        I.            Emphasize grammar, logic, and rhetoric in all subjects.

     The structure of our curriculum is traditional with a strong emphasis on the “basics.” We understand the “basics” to be subjects such as mathematics, history, and language studies. Not only are these subjects covered, they are covered in a particular way. For example: in science class the students will not only read their text, they will read also from primary sources (e.g. How a Pump Lifts Water by Galileo Galilee, or The Nature of Heat by Benjamin Franklin.

     Grammar, logic, and rhetoric will be emphasized in all subjects. By grammar, we mean the fundamental rules of each subject (we do not limit grammar to language studies). In Language Arts, a singular noun does not take a plural verb. In logic, “A” does not equal “^A.” In history, time is linear, not cyclic. Each subject has its own grammar, which we require the student to learn. This enables the student to learn the subject from the inside out.

     The logic of each subject refers to the ordered relationship of that subject’s particulars. What is the relationship between the Reformation and the colonization of America? What is the relationship between the subject and object of a sentence? As the students learn the underlying rules or principles of a subject (grammar) along with how the particulars of that subject relate to each other (logic), they are learning to think. They are not simply memorizing fragmented pieces of knowledge.

     The last emphasis is rhetoric. We want our students to be able to express clearly everything that they learn. An essay in history must be written as clearly as if it were an English paper. An oral presentation in science should be as coherent as possible. It is not enough that the “history” or “science” is correct.

  

 

      II.            Encourage every student to develop a love for learning and live up to his academic potential.

     This goal is impossible to realize unless the teachers have a real love for the subject. If the teacher is not excited about having this knowledge, then why should the student be excited about acquiring it? Necessity may induce the student to learn the material; it will not induce him to love it. If he does not love it, he will content himself with some minimum standard. The origin of this travesty of education is a teacher who also is content with some minimum standard.

     A teacher who is excited about the subject he teaches will be extremely sensitive to those students who are seemingly bored.

 Runnels Academy

 

Mail:

2508 E. 24th St.

Big Spring, Texas

79720

 

Location:

102 E. 10th St.

Big Spring, Tx 79720

 

Call:

Jenny Bryans

432-816-6307

jenny.bryans@runnelsacademy.org

 

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