There are many factors for parents to consider when deciding on how to educate their children. No matter what option is selected, the lasting impact that school has on a child cannot be understated.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, children spend approximately 180 days per year, and 13 years of their childhood (approximately 18,000 hours!), in the classroom. Throughout those 13 years of education, students receive instruction in a variety of subjects. Behind this instruction lies a worldview, or the lens through which the world is perceived. Each person, whether they realize it or not, has a worldview which dictates their morality, life’s meaning, and truth. The worldview learned as a child becomes the foundation for how that child will interact with the world for the rest of their life. According to Doug Wilson, in his book Recovering the Lost Tools Of Learning, “Education will address the fundamental concerns in life, such as whether there is a God, what He communicated to people, and how we should treat others as a result.” Religion can be defined as ‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.’ Wilson rightly concludes, therefore, that all education is religious, because it addresses the topics of human origin, morality meaning of life and destiny. The basis for any teaching is a worldview.
Christian schools recognize the importance of a gospel-centered worldview and look for the redemptive opportunities that important discussions create. In a gospel-centered worldview, Biblical truths form the ‘whys,’ as a basis for the ‘what’s,’ which then lead to a greater knowledge of the truth. While public schools claim they aren’t religious, the assumption is that they are teaching from a place of neutrality. This, however, is simply not true (and often serves as the seeds of moral relativism). Lessons that are not intentionally taught through the lens of the gospel are actually taught in direct opposition to God’s word. For example, the wide-spread public-school teachings on macro-evolution and Critical Race Theory are both very clearly anti-Christian. Children who learn in public schools, especially for long periods of time, may unknowingly develop an anti-Christian perspective on the world. Therefore, carefully considering the worldview of the school is one of the paramount factors to consider when selecting a school.
It is also important for parents to remember the admonishment found in God’s instructions through Moses in which parents are commanded to teach their children God’s truths: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise“ (Deuteronomy 11:19). Attending a Christian school should serve to reinforce the discipleship that is happening at home. Public schools may (intentionally or not), undo the work that parents are doing with their families by teaching principles that directly contradict the Bible.
Finally, in Luke 6:40, Jesus says: “a student is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” When considering education choices for a child, it is important that parents carefully consider the teachers that their children will encounter. It has been noted in many commentaries that Jesus is both encouraging and also warning that students will become like their teachers in knowledge, disposition, and wisdom. Considering the teachers that will spend many hours instructing children is not a task to be taken lightly. Taking into consideration not only the curriculum and its worldview but also who is teaching that curriculum should be a huge factor in making educational decisions.
Parents only have eighteen years with their children. If thirteen of those years are spent in the classroom, then considering the worldview, the discipleship of their families, and the role models who are teaching should be the first steps in helping to inform the education decisions parents make for their children.
There are countless books and articles that have been written to both explain Classical education and help parents, teachers, and administrators understand the differences. Classical educator Buck Holler provides a helpful introduction by bringing attention to 7 areas of contrast for consideration. These are summarized here:
1) Eternal vs. “Progressive.” Contemporary society has become conditioned to equate “new” with “valuable” and “best practice.” Educators clamor for new strategies and curriculums to achieve goals. Classical educators understand that while history changes, human nature doesn’t. As King Solomon once wrote in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). Rather than focusing on what’s new and popular now, we look back to what is timeless, that which has stood the test of time. Therefore, we study the Great Books- books that harken the reader to contemplate the questions and ideas that transcend time and culture. Hence, we are more focused on cultivating virtue that lasts rather than just equipping with skills for the current marketplace.
2) Adult-oriented vs Child-centered. Isocrates, an ancient Greek rhetorician, was known for holding his students to very high standards. He is known for saying that "we teach to the adult in the child.” Contemporary education is focused on engaging the child at their level and tout the importance of child or student-centered education. While it is important to understand the nature and development of a student, this approach easily shifts to a reduction of expectations and blurring of lines of authority. Classical educators aim not to teach a child, but to form an adult. Additionally, the idea of authority is important in classical education, as it follows the God-ordained family structure and also the biblical mandate that the older ones teach the younger. While we give students a chance to demonstrate ability and teach, we don't assume that they know, or should know, what to do. The learning process begins with imitation, repetition, and then habit – learning from someone who has lived long enough to be a teacher.
3) Honors vs Measures the child. Before the industrial age, the primary age of education was to cultivate a human soul. Since the industrial revolution, education has evolved from a Biblical view of soul care and formation into a materialist based utilitarian focus on statistical outcomes. Education has become a numbers game in which “success” has been reduced to grades on a report card and results on a standardized test. Classical educators indeed value assessment, but that assessment is not reduced to mere numbers. Our aim isn’t high test scores, but growth in virtue and character. The classical educator is looking at the child through a variety of lenses, giving them opportunities from many angles to learn. Producing data and measuring numbers is easy. But honoring the child takes much more time and care. It’s the longer road, but it leads to the better place in terms of forming a human being.
4) Moral vs Vocational. Students in a contemporary education model ask the pragmatic question: “How can I use this? What will it do for me?” Classically educated students are trained to think, “What will this do to my soul? How will it shape the person I am becoming?” CS Lewis once wrote: “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” The aim of contemporary education is a good job. The aim of a classical education is the cultivation of a virtuous man or woman, which lasts a lifetime.
5) Thought driven vs Content driven. A lot of schools in the contemporary models boast the slogan: “We teach students how to think, not just what to think.” The problem is, they then let test data and results drive their pedagogy and curriculum, a focus on the “what.” In contemporary models, curriculum content tends to be more fragmented- focused on the content goals of individual subjects. In classical education, the curriculum aims to be integrated around ideas and principles across subjects. Classical educators are not satisfied with just the answer, but the “why” behind the answer.
6) Accepts nature and knowledge vs Rejecting nature and knowledge: Socrates is famous for saying "the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms." Contemporary educators are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with defining terms. For example, how does one answer the following questions: “What is a man? What is a woman? What is love? What is truth?” Our present society, buying into the postmodern ideas that truth is relative to time, culture, and the individual, has left students with no ground to stand upon in forming convictions or identity. Classical educators seek to give students a great gift by allowing lessons to be driven by and aimed at truth. Things are not changing, nor are they different just because our society feels differently about them "now". The classical educator trains students to search out an issue and explore it down to its roots and foundation, to enable them to build understanding and application.
7) Freedom vs Slavery. Unwittingly, contemporary education models train and condition students to become slaves to the cultural norms and expectations of the day. Without a solid grasp on absolute truth, students become captive to the winds and waves of the relative society, with no compass to guide them home. Classical educators want their students to be liberated from the cultural moment, to be, as Andrew Kern once wrote, “open both to the past and to new knowledge and discoveries.” We aim for students to be free to analyze an idea without pressure to agree with it. We want to create space for students to have time to learn, read, discuss, and be taught- one of the greatest freedoms and joys a child can have.
Both the homeschool model and the University-ModelTM place a high value on family and on the God-given task of raising and educating children in the home. While there are benefits to both models of schooling, homeschool coops and the University-Model of education differ significantly.
Homeschool co-ops are a good way for homeschooling families to pool their resources and expertise for specific and usually short-term study projects. Generally, home-school co-ops meet for a specific time or purpose and are parent-led. In addition, a single parent with expertise in a certain area generally takes over the instruction of certain courses. By contrast, the University-Model sees qualified, certified teachers coming alongside parents to bring together the strengths of the traditional classroom while also providing directives that allow parents to be an active participant in their child’s education at home. Oak Grove is duly accredited and equipped with course maps and highly qualified faculty and administrators who are dedicated to curriculum decisions and consistent grade accountability. In addition, Oak Grove offers a wide range of competitive athletic programs for all ages, and a robust assortment of activities for our students to participate in.
Critics of Latin often quip Latin is a dead language because it isn’t spoken as the native language of any community today. In reality, Latin is a ‘reborn’ language whose roots are found in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian---in fact, over 90% of the vocabulary words in these languages come directly from Latin. Therefore, learning Latin becomes a wonderful launching pad for beginning a study of other languages. In addition, pursuing the study of Latin helps students master English. Fifty-percent of all English words are derived from Latin.
We find that through the study of Latin, our students become close, careful, and thoughtful readers and learners.
You can read more on why we study Latin here: https://classicalacademicpress.com/blogs/classical-insights/10-reasons-to-study-latin .
At Oak Grove, God’s Word is at the heart of all that we do.
The principles of a gospel-centered worldview are woven into our curriculum. Flowing from this, our mission is to partner with parents, and this is best done when what is taught in school complements, rather than competes, with what is taught at home. It serves the child best when the adults in their life have a consistent message regarding the ultimate questions of life. For these reasons, we require that at least one parent is a professing Christian and an active participant in a Bible-teaching church. Families must also sign and wholeheartedly follow all aspects found in our Statement of Faith.
Most of our parents do not have teaching degrees so you will find yourself in good company! We do not require that our co-teachers have any teaching experience to be successful in this model. Our highly trained classroom teachers instruct students on campus during the school day, and the application of those lessons is carried out at home. Co-teachers are provided with detailed lesson plans, links, teacher’s manuals, optional training sessions, and many other resources that parents follow to assist them on home days. The classroom teacher is also a resource as questions arise. As students’ progress through the grammar and logic schools, our model is designed to help them become more and more independent on home days, in preparation for their years in our rhetoric school and beyond. Explore our more of the parental role at Oak Grove here.
In an effort to bless our families with multiple students, our literature, history, and science curriculums are aligned for students in first through fourth grade.
On home days, students in these grades will complete the same reading assignment or research the same area of study, and then complete an age-appropriate assignment to go along with it. For example, lesson plans might instruct the co-teacher to read one chapter of the same literature book which will satisfy the literature reading for the day. Then, the first grader’s plans will have the student write 1-2 sentences on a prompt, whereas the fourth grader will write a longer paragraph with more required details based on the same prompt. This alignment method allows for families to collectively dig deeper into the same topic on home-day, as well as helping to ease the burden of multiple assignments for children in many grades. As students enter fifth grade and beyond, the teaching load on the co-teacher becomes less as students work toward learning self-discipline and diligence.