This week, I had the chance to revisit an article by James K.A. Smith, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, called “The Case for Christian Education.”* Smith’s essay refers to a specific denomination, but it applies broadly to the decision to pursue a Christ-centered education.
He writes, “The vision of Christian education is radical because it stems from the conviction that any and every education is rooted (Latin: radix) in some worldview, some constellation of ultimate beliefs.” I love this image, especially given our recent conversations about astronomy and the quadrivium as well as the Mandala Fellowship.
Smith goes on to remind us that it is not enough for Christian education (whether in a private school or a home school) to provide a “safe” education:
“The impetus for Christian schooling is not a protectionist concern, driven by fear, to sequester children from the big, bad world. Christian schools are not meant to be moral bubbles or holy huddles where children are encouraged to stick their heads in the sand.
Rather, Christian schools are called to be like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia: not safe, but good. Instead of antiseptic moral bubbles, Christian schools are moral incubators that help students not only to see the glories of God’s creation but also to discern and understand the brokenness of this fallen world.”
He adds, “In short, Christian schools are not a withdrawal from the world; they are a lens and microscope through which to see the world in all its broken beauty.” What does a lens do? It gathers light and either converges (focuses) it or disperses (spreads) it. Some lenses correct our vision. Some magnify an image and enable us to see details more clearly. Others lenses can light a fire.
As theologian Robert Lewis Dabney wrote in the late 19th century, “Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness as it converges on God, just as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun.”
What a beautiful illustration of true education!
(*This article was linked through the Acton Institute blog.)