Every Kingdom Has a Culture
Discovering why classical Christian education has such a noticeable influence
The parable of the sower teaches a key principle for understanding the role of “school” in a Christian community. From this parable, we see the hand-in-glove work of the cultivator, the sower, and the seed in Christ’s Kingdom. When the Spirit sows the “Word of God” into soil that is cultivated to receive it, it returns a hundredfold (Luke 8:5-15).
Jesus’ kingdom, like every kingdom or nation, has a culture. The primary function of paideia in the ancient world was the cultivation of culture in children. Paideia is often translated “education,” but the concept is much bigger, encompassing the steady cultivation of deep, rich lives where the gospel can take root and flourish. Ephesians 6 uses this Greek word paideia when it commands fathers to raise their children in the paideia of the Lord.
During the 1990s, families in about 100 communities across the United States started classical Christian schools with the hope of offering an education that would assist parents in raising their children in the paideia of the Lord. These families patterned classical Christian education after an old tradition in education with a track record of “raising up children in the way they should go.” The goal was restoration and recovery of a distinctly Christian paideia as a viable alternative to an education that either simply taught knowledge and skills or one that was distinctly secular. The question almost thirty years later is: “To what extent have the goals of classical Christian education been realized?” To that end, the ACCS commissioned a study by the University of Notre Dame’s Sociology Department.
Understandably, some will view the results of this survey skeptically because of the significant differences between classical Christian schools and the others surveyed. These results can be understood more fully by visiting the ACCS schools themselves. They are designed to influence children through ethos, or their whole-school culture. The combination of a wide and deep reading in the classics and student engagement around Socratic discussion tables tells part of the story. So does a focus on respect, manners, and a serious academic pursuit. Logic trains students to think well; rhetoric integrates all knowledge and challenges students to think at an advanced level; Latin to understand more precisely.
Arguably, the greatest distinctive is integration—the intentional way that the subjects and Christian truth are interwoven. Every class and every school activity has one purpose: to see God’s world rightly and to glorify Him. These communities are tight-knit, serious but joyful, and eminently curious. And, there is room for improvement. We invite Christians to join a local ACCS school on this journey.
This research seems to confirm what history has repeatedly demonstrated—classical Christian education can influence the course of a home, community, or a nation.
Take a peek at some of the life outcome results of Classical & Christian ed alumni surveyed!
View more at a glance here~ 7 Life Outcomes of ACCS Alumni
Read the full 57-page report here~
Release date: January 27, 2020: 2018–19 comparative study of 24-to 42-year-old alumni from public, secular private, Catholic, evangelical Christian, religious homeschool, and ACCS (classical Christian) schools, on topics of life choices, preparation, attitudes, values, opinions, and practices.
Author & Analysis: David Goodwin, Editor, The Classical Difference Magazine, ACCS President
Research & Analysis: Dr. David Sikkink, University of Notre Dame, Sociology Department
Credits: Cardus Education Survey (non-ACCS comparative data) Association of Classical Christian Schools (Sponsorship)