by Pastor Steve Wilkins (President of the Geneva board of directors)
Geneva Academy was started because we saw a need for a type of education that wasn’t being offered in our city, or region –a classical Christian education.
It’s important, however, that we be clear about what we mean by “classical Christian education.” “Classical” education has become something of a fad in recent years as many schools look for ways to beef up their curriculum and make it more academically challenging. To hear some people talk about it, classical education means any curriculum that teaches Latin and makes students read Sophocles, Aristotle, and Plutarch’s Lives.
Let’s be clear on this point: Geneva Academy has a rigorous academic program. It is a program structured around the Medieval Trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). Our students will graduate having read more of the foundational (“classic”) literature than the vast majority of college graduates in our day.
But classical Christian education means more than simply having a rigorous academic environment – our goal is much bigger than that. We seek to equip our students to live lives of joy and fruitfulness. Our goal is to see them growing not only in knowledge but in the fear of God – so that they will not only be equipped with the tools of learning and have a solid foundation for academic success – but they will have a foundation that will serve them well throughout their lives.
We want our children not only be successful academically, but to be able to live lives of peace and joy; to be men and women who understand that they are here not to get rich off of others, but to enrich others. We want our students to know that they have been given life in order to serve and to make their communities more joyful, peaceful places.
We want our students to become faithful husbands and wives, devoted fathers and mothers, useful citizens and laborers. So our vision certainly includes academic rigor, but every teacher, every classroom aide, every employee is dedicated to being an instrument in God’s hands to equip our students to live lives of true blessedness. And everything that is done in the classroom is focused on this goal.
This means that every teacher teaches every subject with a self-conscious submission to the infallible revelation God has given us in the Bible. This means that we must be serious about being distinctively Christian in the way we teach every subject and in everything we do. Everything we teach is taught in the context of loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
We want our students to do well academically – and we’ve been pleased to see all of graduates do very well in colleges all around the country. Most of them have earned scholarships, most of them have been on dean’s lists and won academic awards.
We’re thankful for this, but we also understand that being Phi Beta Kappa and graduating Magna Cum Laude is nothing if you don’t love your neighbor and desire to do good and not evil.
And it’s this conviction that has made our school what it is. We have gifted and able teachers, but they are teachers who love their students. They pray for them and seek to do everything they can to see them grow up to be faithful men and women.
Thus, a classical Christian education is defined not just by the curriculum. Its goal is not merely academic excellence. Rather, a classical Christian education insists on academic excellence in the context of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
It seeks to engrain in the student a sense of privilege and gratitude so that they graduate understanding that they have been given a great honor. They have been given a top notch education so that they can be faithful servants in the world around them. “To whom much has been given, much is required.”