Future Leaders Need an Education in the Permanent Things
Hard Work and Holiness
A faithful education begins with the fear of the Lord. A faithful education means a having work ethic, academic rigor, and holiness—which should all go together. A faithful education means honest work, quality work, and joyful work. It means loving the Lord with the mind and not just the heart.
A Trivium Education
A foundational education is what history recognized as teaching the “tools of learning.” The tools of learning are known as the Trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. In the early years of a child’s education, (K-6 grade), the child naturally and joyfully remembers facts: facts of math (multiplication tables), facts of history (dates, people, events), facts of science (animals, planets, rocks), and the facts of grammar (noun, verb, adjective) This is the “Grammar stage”. The emphasis is on mastery of the basics. Many schools try to teach “critical thinking” in the grammar school, but the time for that, primarily, is the next stage, the Logic stage.
During the Logic stage, (7-9 grade), the students love to argue, reason, and debate. Students now begin to form convictions for themselves, and they see the world in very black and white terms. Because children are naturally this way at this age, this is the best time to train them in formal logic, and to ask questions of history and literature, and to begin the more abstract parts of algebra and geometry, civics and English grammar. This is the time to teach them to recognize logical fallacies (easy to find in the opinion section of a newspaper!). Rather than the junior high years being more rote memory work, the students are invited to reason together, to listen to one another, and to come to sound conclusions.
The last stage of the Trivium is the Rhetoric stage, the stage of eloquence. At this age, (10-12 grade), students are particularly interested in how they present themselves. They study the classic forms of persuasion and practice presenting ideas in a winsome and effective manner. In addition to essay writing, students write poetry, stories, short plays, and music. This culminates in a senior thesis that the students defend before a panel.
Throughout the education emphasis is placed on reading quality literature and original sources in all the subjects. While the subjects in a classical education are mostly the same subjects as any other school with the addition of classical languages, logic, and rhetoric, the goal is the mastery of the tools of learning so the students can learn for themselves. This is a foundational education because it is preparation for all of life, for the numerous callings we have as fathers, mothers, employees, employers, or public servants.
Preparation for the Future
Classical Christian education is also future-oriented. How we teach today shapes tomorrow for good or ill. A classical, Christian education is an education for the future, because it prepares the students in the true, the good, and the beautiful, that which does not change with the economy or with an upgrade on the computer. Skills in language, in thinking, and in communication are transferable skills for a rapidly changing time. It is an education in the permanent things. As C.S. Lewis once said: “all that is not eternal, is eternally out of date.”
An education in the true, the good, and the beautiful, is an education that serves and transforms the community. Until the last century, this was understood as the goal of an education. At Geneva Academy, our hope is to be a source of renewed blessing to the community through well-read, articulate, servant-minded graduates.
This turns education on its head. Or rather, this turns us back to a purpose of education that was assumed for centuries. Today, we think of education as improving ourselves, getting ahead, getting a good job, so we can make money. It is all about the individual’s race to the top. But if we are here for others and not just ourselves then what kind of education do we need? We need an education that is faithful, foundational, and future-oriented. God blesses us in order that we may bless others. We are given much, so that we might give much. This is an education that “seeks the peace of the city.”