244: Classical Education Part 1: A Dominion-Perspective
In this episode of the Out of the Question Podcast we address: “What makes an education classical?” and “Is it a good fit for believers in their pursuit to further the Kingdom of God and take dominion in Jesus’ name?” Cathey Brown helps us answer these questions in this first of a four-part series.
Part 1/4 serves as a general introduction while demonstrating the relevancy for all, regardless of where one is in the educational journey.
- The general public and Christians view classical education as a traditional and academically rigorous approach, but many may not fully understand what it entails.
- The hosts emphasize the importance of parents being involved in their children’s education and having a clear goal in homeschooling.
- They explore the relationship between education, religion, and one’s ultimate concerns, highlighting the need for a biblical foundation.
- The episode also addresses concerns about neutrality in education, the role of worldview in curriculum choices, and the need to evaluate materials based on biblical standards.
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[00:00:02.320] – Andrea Schwartz
Welcome to Out of the Question, a podcast that looks behind some common questions and uncovers the question behind the question while providing real solutions for biblical world and life view. Your host is Andrea Swarts, a teacher and mentor and founder of the Chalcedon Teacher training Institute.
[00:00:20.480] – Cathey Brown
Thanks for joining me today for part one of a series that I’m doing on classical education. Classical education has become somewhat of a buzzword. With all the COVID things that happened and all the perversion that’s being promulgated in schools, people are deciding, I got to get my children out of that environment. T hat’s a good thing. However, it’s also a concept that I’ll do the same thing that they were doing in school at home, just minus all the stuff I don’t like, and from there, my children will be educated. Now, they might be educated, but the question is, to what end are they educated? S ince this podcast goes out to Christians, the first thing I’d like to say is why you should be interested. Well, first of all, if you’re embarking on homeschooling or you are in the midst of homeschooling and you have a classical bent to how you think you should go, I have with me today someone who can help flesh out all the particulars. If you no longer have children who you have to educate, chances are you have grandchildren, you have neighbors, you have people within your community, your congregations at church.
[00:01:41.870] – Cathey Brown
And having this understanding and this orientation will be very helpful in terms of producing the desired result. I have Cathey Brown with me today. Cathey, thanks for joining me.
[00:01:56.090] – Andrea Schwartz
Glad to be here.
[00:01:57.150] – Cathey Brown
Okay. I ran into Cathey, I don’t know, five or six years ago now, and found out that we had a similar affinity for the work of R.J. Rushdoony. And if there’s anybody that I know, I’m not talking about the scholars that we’ve read and had commentaries, the woman loves to read. And then she goes way beyond my comfort zone. She not only reads all the footnotes in books that she reads, she often buys the book that’s referenced and reads that and then finds the biography on a book like candy to a child. It’s like, Oh, look what all I have to do. So as a result of that, oftentimes in my classes, which I conduct every week with other women, Cathey is my first Lieutenant or whatever you say, because I know that if there’s an area that somebody has a question on, Cathey more than likely has read about it and more than likely has an opinion about it. So, Cathey, just Just in terms of why, besides my introduction about you, what makes you someone at this point who can speak with authority on the subject of classical education?
[00:03:13.290] – Andrea Schwartz
It’s not so much authority as it is interest. When we’re believers, there are different skills, different gifts, different drives that God has put within all of us. I will lingly became a universal student a couple of decades ago, not only just through the schooling system and graduating, but I just couldn’t put down books. It never seemed to be a struggle for me. I could have got off and tried to do whatever I wanted on that for my own purposes and ends. But life is not all about just sitting around and enjoying your own books for your own reasons or whatnot. What are you supposed to do with that? I early on in my 20s, I decided with this ability to read advanced things, to process, to keep things into mind, I’m going to be a repository. I’m going to be a walking reference librarian in Christian literature, in some of the old school theology and a lot of the Puritan stuff and a lot of the doctrine stuff that your average Joe, your average layman isn’t really going to get into depth on, but they still are going to need help here and there. They’re going to need some answers.
[00:04:28.930] – Andrea Schwartz
They’re going to need pointed to, Okay, if this is what you’re thinking about, if these are the things that are in your mind or that are coming along, you might want to pick up this book over here. This is going to help you. B ased off of what you’ve read before, how you’ve studied before, this is going to be presented in a way that it’s going to make sense and it’s going to be really, really, really helpful. It’s not an authority so much as it is a natural affinity, a God given affinity.
[00:04:52.610] – Cathey Brown
The subject for this series is classical education. The first part, part one, we’re going to talk about ic a Dominion perspective. But before we actually get to the meat of that, what would you consider the general public’s view on classical education? And what would you consider the average Christian’s view on classical education?
[00:05:16.720] – Andrea Schwartz
Honestly, there’s not too much of a difference between the two as the temperature sits right now. Because we are so inundated with public school, with public education, classical education seems very old school, very further beyond academically than we’ve ever had in our day and time. And it’s great if you want to go back 100, 200, 300 years and teach the way that they used to. But golly, that just seems awfully studious for us. Good for you. I’m glad that there are people out there that do it, but I could never keep up with that. I already struggled as much through public schooling as anyone should ever have to do to go beyond that academically. That’s ridiculous. U nfortunately, I think Christians even look at it that way. We as Christians tend to like tradition a little bit more. We tend to like having roots and things. We’ve got the best selling book of all time. It’s our number one handbook. W e do like learning to a certain extent. W e’ve latched on a little bit to the idea of, Oh, yeah, that would be nice. W e just then rest at this sentiment of, Oh, that would be a nice way to teach.
[00:06:31.040] – Andrea Schwartz
Okay, I’m not going to be the one to do it. But that would be really, really, really nice if more people did that.
[00:06:37.410] – Cathey Brown
You get advertisements, come to our day school. It’s a classical Christian school, or curriculums and there are a variety of them that come from various publishers, that this is a classical curriculum. It seems to me that part of the problem is so many of the people who have embraced the idea of homeschooling were schooled in state schools in the first place. So they may suffer from they don’t know what they don’t know.
[00:07:09.890] – Andrea Schwartz
They don’t know what they don’t know, but they’re also just trying to find something that’s better. If you’ve been to public school, then you’ve walked away from public school with a distaste in your mouth for public school. Either that or you’ve become an educator within the public school system. You really don’t produce more than just those types of people. You either absolutely hated public school or you became a teacher in the public school system because you loved it. Unfortunately, that means that people reaching out trying to find homeschooling or trying to look at different private school alternatives, they don’t know anything but the distaste. They know that this is wrong. They know the public school system is wrong, but they don’t really know how to determine what’s right? What should education look like, what should we be doing. So along comes this classical idea, Oh, this is tradition based. It’s been around for a long time and it used to be successful because we used to be smarter back in olden days. So maybe this is the answer.
[00:08:02.650] – Cathey Brown
It’s funny that you say that because there was a period about 15 or 20 years ago where I got a hold of some old books, some old novels, and in it there were constant allusions to Greek mythology. And it’s like, I don’t really know about that. Okay, whatever. Okay, whatever. And then the person would break into French or the person would break into Latin. And again, I couldn’t read it. But there was no attempt to explain it because I guess the assumption of the authors was that you’re supposed to know this. And we hear that our forefathers were classically educated. And so Patrick Henry, George Washington, people want that for their children, but they don’t really know what it means even to explore the liberal arts. A lot of people hear liberal and it’s like, oh, no, I definitely don’t want that. Or liberal arts, it’s what you do if you don’t do anything specific. Talk a little bit about that.
[00:09:04.240] – Andrea Schwartz
When we talk about classical education, when we talk about liberal arts, these are in classical, seven main subject areas. We’re talking about rhetoric, we’re talking about grammar, logic, astronomy.
[00:09:22.230] – Cathey Brown
[00:09:23.340] – Andrea Schwartz
Geometry, and music. Now, how’s that for a lineup? That sounds very, very fanciful. It’s a very posh East Coast Ivy League somebody with money has sent their kids to learn all these things, right? It seems advanced. It’s so far above us because we weren’t trained in that. Is it truly advanced?
[00:09:44.800] – Cathey Brown
Interesting. You point out in some of our previous discussions that classical education has a rich 2,500 year history. It’s customarily given its genesis at the time of Plato and Aristotle. It matured during the Middle Ages. Then as I mentioned, it was the predominant form of education for America’s founders. But what’s missing from that definition is what is a sound, robust, challenging description of education? And you pointed out what’s missing from that? What should be included that hasn’t been?
[00:10:25.560] – Andrea Schwartz
And that’s the problem is that all of these things are set up with no reference to God, with no reference to biblical foundations. So this model is a model of what the world says knowledge is, what the world says education is, and what we should all know? Well, that’s a religious statement. What we should know is a religious statement. Our education is part of our culture and our culture is religion externalized. Every time we teach, every time we train, every time we say, this is the knowledge you need to know, we’re making a statement of this is what a human should be. This is how a human should be regulated. This is what should be part of your life, should be valued in your life. This is what is important in the world.
[00:11:15.530] – Cathey Brown
You make the point that the average person might have a very different definition of the purpose of education than what the Bible would indicate is the purpose of an education. Talk a little bit about that. I go with.
[00:11:32.290] – Andrea Schwartz
Two benchmarks for Christians and for the Bible. What is education? What do we need to be keeping in mind? The first is Proverbs 22 6. We all know Proverbs 22 6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old, he won’t depart from it. Well, that training, that is education. That’s one of the strongest statements of education that we have in the Bible. General statements. Obviously, we’re told, learn these commands, teach these commands, teach them to your children. But this is a general concept of education for life, of education for the whole of the world, of education for the point of Dominion. When he’s old, he won’t depart from it. Okay, that means that you’ve created another soldier for the sake of Christ, another Dominion warrior going out amongst the world, proclaiming God and his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Well, we skip over that, unfortunately, a lot of times. Train up a child. What’s the subject of that sentence? You’re a grammarian, you love grammar. What is the subject of train up a child?
[00:12:38.410] – Cathey Brown
It’s an implied you. You train up the child.
[00:12:42.330] – Andrea Schwartz
It’s missing in there. U nfortunately, we have a tendency because we’re lazy. We are. We’re all lazy. That’s part of indwelling within us is that we don’t want to do more than we absolutely have to do the minimum to get away with it. I train up. How about I just instead give it a little bit of consideration, make the best educational decision, and let someone else do the training? I did my part. I got the best system. I got the best focus area. I’ll follow up. I’ll ask questions at the end of the day, but I’m not going to take that whole training onto myself. But that’s the subject. That’s what it was assigned to, Biblicaly. So parents have to be a lot more involved than just which school or even which learning system? Am I going to be classical? Am I going to be Charlotte Mason? What am I going to do? That’s not enough. That’s not training up. That’s a single time decision. Beyond that, how do we choose the way he should go? How often do we spend considering that?
[00:13:47.640] – Cathey Brown
Right. Oftentimes when people come to me, we’re thinking of homeschooling, talk to me about it. I talk to them about it and they say, Okay, what should we do? What curriculum should we get? I go, I don’t know what curriculum you should get. They go, Why am I talking to you? I was told that you knew what you were talking about. And what I say to them is, What do you want to accomplish? What’s your goal? And they’re like, That my kids can get a good job, that we don’t get in trouble with a true end officer, that they’re not behind the other kids in school. And so they really have no mission statement. And I suggest a mission statement like, what’s your mission? Pointing them to the fact that we already have a lot of help there in the Bible and in our catechisms, which were specifically meant to help people orient themselves to the task of training up a child.
[00:14:46.360] – Andrea Schwartz
That’s how I like to define the way he could go. The way a child should go, Westminster number one, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Okay, if that’s our chief end, then that’s the way we should go. So that’s what our training should be, training towards how to glorify God and how to enjoy him forever. But yeah, that’s a very blanket, very top level mission statement. And yet, if we pull that in and start looking at everything through that view, through that perspective, that really changes how we view education. That really changes what we consider schooling and learning and childhood learning specifically to be.
[00:15:38.850] – Cathey Brown
So you look at that definition that you might get off Wikipedia on classical education, and then you have to ask yourself, Okay, so does that reflect the two benchmarks that you mentioned? Glorifying God and enjoying him, meaning receiving his blessings because you glorified him by doing what he says. But does that mean classical education can’t be Christian or that it can’t be used for Christian ends? You’ve told me, Well, I wish there was a simple answer for that, but there isn’t one. W hat’s your deeper dive answer?
[00:16:15.820] – Andrea Schwartz
Our deeper dive is that everything is a tool, and the goodness of the tool depends on how you use it. We need to look at how our education and our knowledge presuppositions have been shaped by our perspective, our idea of what we need to be learning, what we need to be knowing. That means we have to jump into epistemology. We have to start from scratch. Starting from scratch, when we’re talking about knowledge, means how do we know what we know? Most people don’t ask that question.
[00:16:52.600] – Cathey Brown
They think that that’s just for the academics of the world.
[00:16:56.370] – Andrea Schwartz
No, any ology is so far advanced and beyond. Why should I have to know the definition for that?
[00:17:02.780] – Cathey Brown
Like you said, everybody has an epistemology, everybody has a theology. They may not look at it that way. And that’s why when you look at education and you say, Well, that has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with religion. It has everything to do with what’s your ultimate concern. And if there’s anything that parents of young children are usually involved in, in some way, shape, or form, is education. Where am I going to send them to school? Where do your kids go to school? Some people move to an area so that they can go to the good school. Other people spend most of their time at homeschool conventions in the hall where they can buy curriculum. But they go in looking for… It would be like saying, What’s the best car for my family? Well, if I have 10 children and two adults, a four seater isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to have to find find a van that will accommodate them. By the same token, if it’s just me and my husband and we’re empty nesters, I don’t need a 15 passenger van. So the answer to the question, what’s the right car for you?
[00:18:13.940] – Cathey Brown
Requires a number of other questions to get down to that. But as you have talked to me in the past about a lot of the view of people and right and wrong and ethics and morality come from a faulty view of the condition of man. Is man good most of the time and sometimes he slips, or is man utterly depraved?
[00:18:37.670] – Andrea Schwartz
That’s going to affect how much faith you put in your ability to think and how much faith you put in your ability to understand. Whether you think your mind is unscathed by the influence of indwelling sin. This really comes into play. This is going to seem scholastic. This is going to seem overly educational for the average person, but we’re going to go on a little bit of a history and theology lesson here because it’s relevant and we’re going to do it in a way that’s easy to understand. You’ll see how it applies here. We’re talking about how we know what we know and what is knowledge and how do we begin to then pass along knowledge. We’re going to go back to Thomas Aquinas. Most Christians will at least recognize that name. There are some even non Christians that recognize it as a little asterisk point or a one sentence line in a history text somewhere that they came across and never bothered to. Thomas Aquinas, 1225 to 1274, we’re talking Catholic Church at the time, there is no protestant Church. So this is within the Catholic Church, wrote Summa Theologica, his big Magnum Opus.
[00:19:49.740] – Andrea Schwartz
It’s a systematized theology and it’s supposed to be a compendium of all the teachings of the Church. So it’s supposed to be everything that we teach, all of the doctrine that we know. Our whole source of knowledge is supposed to be located within this. But it’s got a problem. It rests on a defective theory of knowledge, the relationship that exists between our faith, what we believe, and our reason, our mind’s ability to think through things on its own. Prior to Thomas Aquinas, the Church held on to an Augustinian view of knowledge. Here’s your Latin coming out since we’re talking about classical education anyway. Credo ut intelligam, believe that you may understand. What comes first? Belief. Faith is required then to understand things, to add knowledge to things. Augustine, we’re going to quote Augustine from his confessions. Lovely. The mind needs to be enlightened by light outside of itself so that it can participate in truth because it itself, the mind itself, is not the nature of truth. You light my lamp, oh Lord. What does that tell us about our knowledge and our understanding and our mind? It doesn’t exist naturally.
[00:21:13.410] – Cathey Brown
[00:21:14.620] – Andrea Schwartz
It is. It comes from something outside of our self. Now, let’s go back to that tricky Aquinas. Why did we bring up Aquinas and then jump straight into Augustine? Let’s compare what it had been to what Aquinas shifted everything to. In his own words, horrible as they may seem, but divinely inspired scripture is not pertinent to the philosophical disciplines which have been devised according to human reason. Therefore, it’s advantageous that over and beyond the philosophical disciplines, there should be another science that is divinely inspired. I respond, It was necessary for human salvation over and beyond the philosophical disciplines devised by human reason that there should also be a doctrine conformable to divine revelation. Hence, the theology associated with the sacred doctrine differs from in kind from the theology that’s positive as a part of philosophy.
[00:22:11.810] – Cathey Brown
Just so it’s clear, theology and philosophy were separated. They’re two separate things.
[00:22:16.720] – Andrea Schwartz
But that’s what he is implying there. Prior to this, we had faith so that we could have knowledge. Now Aquinas is stepping in and going, No, there are two completely separate systems of knowledge. There’s the sacred things of God that are divinely inspired and they lead to our salvation. That’s great. That’s nice for our faith. But there’s all of these other sciences over here that are philosophical that come out of the mind of man that are useful here and that don’t touch the things of God, don’t come anywhere close to sacred or having any an influence from the Bible.
[00:22:56.560] – Cathey Brown
Let’s flesh this out a little bit. If you’re going to see the implications of his statement, then his view of the fall was just very compartmentalized. Man didn’t fall in his totality, and that’s why he needs revelation from God to know what is and what isn’t. Just part of man fell, and that man is capable of coming to correct conclusions based on his reason and his intellect.
[00:23:27.230] – Andrea Schwartz
Man’s mind is not depraved according to Aquinas. This is very important because those dates, you remember those dates we talked about, 1225 to 1274? What happens in the next 800 years of Western history? Since Aquinas sat down and said, No, there’s a separate series of reason and logic and natural mind power, thinking power that you’re able to do on your own, apart from God, that is isn’t fallen, that isn’t affected by sin. I wonder how we ended up getting to the Enlightenment with natural reason. I wonder how we ended up getting to Darwinianism. I wonder how we ended up getting to postmodern atheism because the system was set up based upon this idea that God’s knowledge is fine and great. Learn them all off on its own over here. But there’s a whole realm of knowledge that God doesn’t touch that has nothing to do with God.
[00:24:37.700] – Cathey Brown
So you’re talking about Augustine, and he wrote the city of God and contrasted it with the city of man. I don’t think that Aquinas would have liked that differentiation.
[00:24:51.190] – Andrea Schwartz
But that’s the problem, and this is the crux. What we have is dueling perspectives on knowledge, which means dueling perspectives on learning and education. Augustine said, There’s the fallen mind and there’s the redeemed mind. There’s the city of God. There’s the city of man. There is before regeneration and there is after regeneration. There is a knowledge based off of ignorance based off of sin, and there’s one based off of faith. There’s an antagonism there. That’s the basis of the Augustinian knowledge system. The antagonism between the fallen mind and the regenerate, the redeemed mind. Aquinas does not do that. To Aquinas, the difference is, Oh, no, no, no. Things of God that can stay over there. But there’s now this whole separate area that God doesn’t touch. Which of those two views encourages man to view his mind as unaffected by sin? You’re going to teach differently. You’re going to understand things differently if you think, Oh, no, my mind is unaffected by sin. My emotions can be, my willpower can be. Sometimes my moral compass is a little wonky. But if I sit down and logically consider things, I will always arrive at the right thing because my logic, my reasoning, my rational nature is not affected by sin.
[00:26:20.590] – Andrea Schwartz
You’re going to teach differently if you say that versus the biblical model of total depravity all of us has fallen, including our minds.
[00:26:29.420] – Cathey Brown
Right. Let me just interject something here. Most people might not know that Thomas Aquinas was trying to reconcile the Christian faith with Aristotle and the Greek philosophers. He somehow perpetuated the idea that there is a realm in life that’s neutral. This neutral part of life would be it’s neither right nor wrong. The best thing to do is to try to stay neutral because then we’ll get true knowledge out of it instead of having the bias that the Bible is right or the bias that, let’s say, evolution is right. So we call it a myth of neutrality. Do you think a lot of people embark on teaching their children under the banner of home education and they embrace the myth of neutrality?
[00:27:24.490] – Andrea Schwartz
Well, I think they’ve been indoctrinated into it. This is the problem with history building up and culture building up and shaping the minds of everyone to come. I think we haven’t bothered to notice or consider just how thoroughly this myth of neutrality is our natural starting point. Oh, well, sure. There’s knowledge out there that isn’t affected by the Bible. Challenge accepted. Show me that area because I can sit there. If you are biblical, if you are Christian, you should be able to say God created it all. God rules and reigns over it all. Ergo, it all has an obedience that it renders to God. It all has a purpose under God’s created system. God providentially rules over it all for his purposes and his will. Where is neutral going to pop up in the whole God ruling and reigning over everything? There’s no room for it. So if you declare neutral, you’re essentially saying, no, God’s wrong. He doesn’t rule over this. We’re going to pull this away from him. Well, then you’re not being neutral. You’re being anti God. That’s not neutral.
[00:28:37.740] – Cathey Brown
Okay. So I want you to comment on something recently, and I won’t mention the commentator who I was listening to, but she made the point as she’s trying to identify this idea that transgenderism isn’t good for kids. And a lot of these people will say, Wait till somebody’s 18, and then they can make their own decision. As if at 18, if you do something that’s in violation of God’s law, somehow that’s better than somebody doing it at 14. But she says there’s the age old problem. Can you separate the art from the artist? S he said, Of course you can. A s I was talking back to a screen that couldn’t hear me, I’m going, Of course you can’t. You can’t separate what a person does and produces from their world and life view because their presuppositions are going to come out. Without saying that if you embark on on a classical education, you’re producing atheists and people who will remain in rebellion against God, what’s the problem with not putting a biblical template over the study of civilizations and people that God gave us to be bad examples, not good examples, bad example.
[00:29:52.760] – Andrea Schwartz
Problem is what’s your core? What’s your center? And what’s your template that you’re laying over? This is the issue I have. This is the crux of the issue I have with everything classical. It starts from a system devised by those who did not have God, those who did not have the gospel, those who did not have revelation, those who did not have faith according to their ability to understand the mind of man. I understand we’ve held that up, we’ve moved it forward, and now we’ve come along and tried to lay a biblical template over that. But the Bible is already its own center and core. Why are we allowing the secular, the city of man, the classical, the Plato and the Aristotle system to stay as the center, the core, the starting point, and then we just Jesus it up everywhere else. Put a little bit of Bible here. There’s a difference in this perspective, and this is what we need to grasp upon. I’m not saying don’t learn the classics. I think it’s absolutely important to learn these subjects in classical education. What I have a problem with is the system of classical education that says this is the education, this is what knowledge is.
[00:31:15.730] – Andrea Schwartz
This is the center point. You can put your Jesus stickers on me all you want, but I am still the core. I am still the defining. I am still the city of man. I am still the mind is not fallen and there are so many biblical discrepancies to that that says no, that’s a lie, that’s false, that you can’t just apply a Bible sticker to the side of it. You can’t just come in and say, oh, well, yeah, Jesus once said this one thing. You have to destroy the basics, the center of this and restore a biblical center from which to view the classical system.
[00:31:57.260] – Cathey Brown
I’ll give you a personal example here. For a short time, I was teaching at a classical school. They needed someone to teach and I was teaching ancient history. I never really got to Greece when we were going to start doing it because they found another teacher. I might have been fired once I started teaching about Greece. But anyway, I talked to some of the graduates who had gone through the class the year before or two years before, and I asked them, So what do you think about Plato? Oh, he was cool. He was really cool. The Republic was really good. And then, oh, Plato’s cave. He didn’t have Christ. He didn’t have the gospel. I know he wasn’t right on things, but he was such a cool guy. So he had no awareness. And obviously, they didn’t teach that Paul’s Epistle are oftentimes refuting the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. But they thought it was really cool. This kid and his contemporaries at the school thought they were really knowledgeable because they had read all the works of Homer and stuff like that.
[00:33:09.300] – Andrea Schwartz
And that’s what the… Having a Dominion perspective on this, that’s why it’s important, because that’s what we’re trying to get to. We operate off of two conditions here, by what standard and for what ends? By what standard is something good or cool or neat or worthy of our adoration, of our loyalty, are worthy of letting into our inner sanctum to affect our minds, to shape our thoughts. Is plateau really worthy? That’s not to say that we can’t study, but how do we judge success or good when it comes to education? We could talk about all of the little academic excellence and rigorous and vigorous, but what we’re dealing with then is, Oh, look, it’s harder scholasticism than most people go through. That just sounds like bragging rights to me. Oh, I love having read this. Okay, so I’ve got a Goodreads profile. I’ve got thousands of books on there. I went through 278 books last year. So what? By what standard? For what end? Are we supposed to just have a reading resume out there? What is Plato doing in your everyday life? What he’s supposed to be doing in your everyday life? Is he taking up a place in your everyday life that should belong to Almighty God?
[00:34:36.730] – Andrea Schwartz
That’s what we want when we’re trying to establish a Dominion perspective on education. We’re trying to reset the boundary lines of what we say is a successful or a good or a worthwhile education. Because these things are successful and good and worthwhile according to worldy ends by worldy standards. But our standards aren’t those of the city of man. Our ends are not supposed to be the same as those of the city of ends. When we go through and we try to syncretize, when Aquinas tried to say, Oh, well, I love my Christianity, but I don’t want to let go of my philosophers. Can’t I love them both equally and keep them separately? No, because they both claim a Dominion. They both make religious statements that are contrary to each other. I can enjoy reading Plato and Aristotle, and occasionally I find things enjoyable in there, but they’re not allowed to hold my heart. They’re not allowed to hold my affections. They’re not allowed to hold my faith and my trust. I’m not allowed to build my life and world view off of them. They’re not inerrant and they don’t glorify God.
[00:35:59.070] – Cathey Brown
I can imagine, Cathey, somebody who listens to this and said, Okay, I came here for good advice. Instead of being energized by what you’re saying, they’re like, Did we make the wrong decision to homeschool? Because I don’t have the depth of understanding that this woman has. Do you need to have years and years and years of training in philosophy and ancient civilizations in order to effectively transmit a biblical world and life view?
[00:36:39.720] – Andrea Schwartz
Proverbs 22:6, what is that hidden subject? You train up a child in the way he should go. Yeah, that’s a command. That’s a duty onto us. But there’s also an aspect of a promise in there. Did God put that on us as parents? Did God put that on you because you wouldn’t be capable? Did God give you a commandment that you wouldn’t be able to fulfill? No. God’s in control of all of that. Do you need to know all of that stuff before going in? Absolutely not. Are you stuck where you’re at going in, going, I can’t. I don’t know how to. Well, are you a believer? Are you earnestly trying to understand? Are you earnestly learning about God? Are you earnestly trying to apply a biblical life and worldview? Are you praying over the education of your kids? That right there is a better qualification and a better means of success in education than a 1,000 university degrees in antiquities.
[00:37:47.470] – Cathey Brown
Exactly. Oftentimes when I have these conversations where people have successfully pulled their children out from the tyrannical authority of the state and they say, tell us what we should do. I was like, Wow, you can’t be without a tyrant for a minute. Why should I tell you what you should do? Now, I can advise you in terms of things to explore because not everybody needs a classical education. I always suggest that the first thing you do is really learn biblical law because those are the lenses that you will have to put on to interpret is this good or is this bad? Let’s take the topic of the day transgenderism. Let’s take should homosexuals be allowed to adopt children? I mean, someone who understands biblical law doesn’t spend too much time on those debates because the Bible clearly identifies what those activities are. So I think that classical education may be excellent with this understanding that we have to put the Word of God over it, but it’s not the only option So how would you advise someone who says, I didn’t have a very good education. I’m a public school graduate. Am I in over my head?
[00:39:09.740] – Cathey Brown
Should I try to do… And we’ll talk about curriculums in the third section of this, but where do I find good material? Should that be the first question that they try to answer?
[00:39:23.170] – Andrea Schwartz
Well, that’s the obvious place that most people start going looking. Okay, can I do homeschooling practically? What am I going to need? I’m going to need books. Where do I find the books? And some of that is, Okay, there’s books out there. If you go looking, you actually find there’s a lot of books out there. So you go from not knowing that homeschooling was an option and not considering it as an option to now it’s an option to now, Oh, my goodness. Now I have too many options and someone just needs to point me which way to go. Mercy, people. Have mercy for yourselves. Have a little bit of grace for yourselves. Are you doing it according to a prompting from God? Are you doing it trying to be faithful to that train of a child? Do you think God is going to leave you out there and going to make you absolutely fruitless unless you get this absolute one right curriculum series that happens to be on sale at this one place right now? No. What did we do? I sound really smart here, and I’m homeschooling on my own. I tossed two different curriculums that we were working on eight weeks into the school year this last year, one with only five or six weeks left.
[00:40:36.970] – Andrea Schwartz
But I’m seeing they’re going, This has no value. Why are we keeping on doing this? We don’t have to do that. We’re still going to… There’s no one right answer, and you’re not going to get it all right the first time because there is no all right as far as, These are the subjects, and this is the curriculum, and this is the approach that I have to do. What you have to do is train up a child in the way he should go. What you have to do is to keep in mind to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. God, then in his merciful providence, in his goodness towards us, will guide it towards his ends. If you put the endeavor out there, if you try, if you go looking, if you keep vigilant and keep an eye on, then it will work out how he intends it to. Don’t put anything beyond that on your shoulder.
[00:41:36.680] – Cathey Brown
Another thing I would say and why I will continue to maintain, you need to know the word of God so that you can look at historical accounts and say, This is an example of X, Y, Z. This is where the person was right. This is where the person was wrong. This is where he did or did or did not line up with God’s word. But I think a lot of people, especially especially as they get into this classical stuff, think that they can’t disagree with Plato because who am I? Plato was this genius. He was a sinner who elevated his own perspective over the word of God. You can’t convince me that with all the Hebrew people being captured and everything else that the Greeks, the Egyptians, all these various civilizations got to hear the word of God through God’s people. We know that in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar essentially converted. You can’t give the praise to God that comes if he didn’t get it. God changes people. But if we don’t think we can say, This is like, for example, today, we have a ruling elite. Plato was fine with a ruling elite.
[00:42:54.560] – Andrea Schwartz
Most of us are.
[00:42:55.920] – Cathey Brown
Right. We have this view of degradation and subordination of women. Plato was all for that. And yet somehow or other, Plato, Aristotle, and we’re not supposed to say, No, they were wrong. They weren’t right. They were wrong.
[00:43:14.470] – Andrea Schwartz
That’s where we’re learning how to reengage with a tradition. Classical education is about a long standing tradition of these are the subjects. This is what you teach. This is what’s worth knowing. No, we’re going to be wise as serpents and innocent as lobs. Okay, yeah, we’ll engage some with that. We’ll engage to see, oh, here’s a center. Here’s how this goes against the Bible. We’ll sit back and go, yeah, wow, that homer. He wrote a whole lot of actually morally crap stories in a time when he didn’t have a typewriter. So how much of his life was wasted writing long and etching into tablets longhand about the sexual escapades of imaginary gods? Is that a life well lived? There’s the tradition with the homer is still alive and kicking. Homer is still influencing the pagan world. The city of man around us, but we as the city of God are shining forth and going, That’s not a life well lived. That’s a life wasted. But you know what is a life well lived? A life that spends time focusing on God’s word, trying to learn more of God, trying to be his kingdom come, his will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.
[00:44:39.940] – Andrea Schwartz
That’s a good life. That’s a life that’s not afraid to pick up home and go, ew, this is gross. People have found this good? Well, people are idiots. They’re surprised, moving on.
[00:44:54.650] – Cathey Brown
It becomes very worthwhile to understand the thesis of Homer, the thesis of Plato so that when people present that point of view, you could give a biblical response. But to bathe in it, to swim in it, at this same school I was referencing, one day I just went in and decided to ask the class to write out the Ten Commandments. One person’s answer was, Be kind to animals. He thought that was part of the Ten Commandments. Only two out of the 14 got all of them correctly written out, except they didn’t have the flushed out ones on commandment two or Commandment Three about why and everything like that. And yet they could pass tests on Plato. So I didn’t ask you on here to bum people out. Oh, no, I’ve invested in a classical curriculum. We must finish it. Like you, there were many times where I had invested in something that I thought was good. And instead of saying it was totally worthless, it wasn’t good for us. And there are used curriculum places and you can sell them. Or if they’re really bad, you can throw them out and realize you’re doing somebody a service by not having them be the subject curriculum that people use.
[00:46:18.660] – Cathey Brown
But we always have to evaluate. We can’t baptize everything we do is wonderful. As you point out, oftentimes the slogan of the Reformation was Semper Reformanda, always reforming. So when we figure out we haven’t done it right, okay, do something else.
[00:46:37.350] – Andrea Schwartz
Let’s take this classical education, and there’s some good to be found here. There are some jewels to be found in some of the classical system, so don’t throw away all of your books. But let’s spend some time finding how to use them for God’s purposes and ends. Let’s find some time learning how to view them according to biblical standards and what our role is in how we’re supposed to engage with them for Dominion here on Earth.
[00:47:03.750] – Cathey Brown
Let me add, for those who really do feel called to pursue this method of education, there’s nothing wrong with learning with your children. I submit, having homeschooled for as long as I did and now continuing to teach in classes homeschool students, is that the teacher always learns way more than the student. That doesn’t mean that the student doesn’t learn. When all is said and done, it becomes important that what we do in the education of our children and ourselves is to the glory of God. Asking yourself the question, does it glorify God? Does it cause me to enjoy Him? In other words, receive His blessings. Then you can take a deep breath and realize that nothing in the Bible says that at the time you stand before the Lord, He’s going to want your resume, he’s going to want how many degrees you have, and He wants to know all the books you read. Not that those things might not have value, but that’s not the ultimate value. Yes. Thank you, Cathey. Next time, we’re going to talk about classical schools, particularly. I hope that we’ve encouraged people by opening their eyes to what they have gotten themselves into and then how to evaluate whether or not this course of action and how they’re doing it actually glorifies God.
[00:48:37.730] – Cathey Brown
[00:48:38.530] – Andrea Schwartz
Listening to Out of the Question. For more information on this and other topics, please visit Chalcedon.edu