The Purpose of Education
Education is always about formation—every generation has sought to teach the next generation what to believe and how to live. Since the highest values of a particular culture at a particular time dictate the path and process of this formation, one way to evaluate what a group of people believes is to see how it educates its children.
For the last century or so, American education has been dominated by the goal of training students to become workers who value democracy. In modern America, these are the highest ideals, and many believe the best life our children can aspire to is one of personal, financial, and political autonomy. Therefore, modern education is the process of forming children to desire and accomplish these goals.
Classical Christian education follows a much older, more reliable path of formation that most highly values wisdom and love. As Christians, we recognize that God has created the world, formed us in His image, and made Himself known to us. However, due to our decision to disobey God, His image in us has been damaged and our ability to reason and desire have become confused, destructive, and idolatrous. Classical Christian education is part of the process of restoring the glory of God’s image in students so that they can become rightly related to God and their neighbors in ways that bring about peace, joy, and communal abundance.
Children are born with a natural sense of wonder and the ability to think deeply and interact with the world in orderly and creative ways. Not only are these natural proclivities and abilities misdirected and marred by sin, they are also stunted by the methods of modern schooling, which treat students simply as receptacles for filling with prefabricated bits of information, tailored for the sole purpose of passing standardized tests. Since the goal of Classical Christian education is to restore the glory of God’s image in students, it encourages them to wonder and leads them to wisdom. It does so by cultivating virtue in students and training them according to the liberal arts within the Christian tradition.