During a critical period from the late 1970’s and into the mid 2000’s, much of K-12 education referenced the university system. College preparatory education became the standard by which to evaluate the success of schooling. As the push towards college became nearly universal in the United States, larger amounts of funding became available to the university system. No longer viewed exclusively as “higher education,” the shift towards “inevitable education” drove the admissions process to take the form we observe today. Cherokee Christian Schools has always spoken of college success rather than college admissions, yet for many the hope of being accepted to particular schools remains tied to evaluation of a student’s education.
The purpose of higher education has changed. Much like the revolution within the public school system, the universities also adopted the mantle of producing citizens. This citizen must be defined in exclusively secular language. He must live and breathe in a world where purposes greater than himself are to be found in future generations and the scale of his society. He is to be American in the old Roman way, entrusting the State to become both the arbiter and the tutor in defining what is good.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus once asked. The question was in no way intended to express self-doubt; rather, it asked the Rich Ruler to consider the scales. He felt certain when responding to all the things he hadn’t done, but when pressed to do for the Kingdom, his heart sank. While it may seem perfectly apparent that we expect our young people to be Kingdom people, education may miss the mark here. After all, if the purpose of one education is to produce the kind of person who will be most successful in another, the house is, as Jesus said, divided. Rather the citizen that we aim to produce is one who is ready to be inducted into what Augustine called the City of God.
Dual citizenship is a must. The Bible is emphatic in this regard. Yet Christian Education, especially at the K-12 level, must be aimed exclusively at preparing the minds and hearts of the young for Kingdom citizenship. We recognize that we have no power to transform hearts and usher in a second birth. What we can do, however, is train the habits of thought and life that make sense of Creation in light of what is true. By using that word, true, we intend to draw a clear line in the sand. Yet unlike the schoolmasters of the Enlightenment era, we intend to prepare human reason to submit to divine revelation.
In Christian education then, we should find all that we need to order the scales. We see that we are capable of measuring parts of Creation. We come to understand that society will weigh us, but that mindfulness of a final judgment should be of far greater concern. We even learn that God will weigh all human societies. At Cherokee Christian, we believe that the job of the K-12 student is to learn God’s definitions of the good and the true, reason towards that standard, and ultimately be confident of expressing and defending it. This model ought to drive all that we do and teach. Over the coming weeks, I hope to provide more focused pieces on how this leads to any future path, including college. Should your student accomplish all that I’ve described in a K-12 Christian school and nothing more, would you consider him educated?