Regents Academy has gained a reputation in the Nacogdoches area for its academic excellence, its distinctly Christian worldview, and its loving community. But there’s a dark side to our school’s notoriety: many people know a little bit about the school and then fill in the gaps in their knowledge with assumptions, myths, and rumors. “Classical schools are harsh and oppressive.” “Classical schools were good for the past, but we need something new and innovative today.” This body of perceptions is out there in the form of something like urban legends, imaginative modern folktales that aren’t true but are just plausible enough to seem true.
Here are two more urban legends about classical Christian education that have cropped up as the movement has grown.
“Those schools are only for really smart kids.” Or, “My child is not smart enough for a classical school.” Many parents observe Regents students, and, seeing that they are diligent, motivated, and capable, assume that every child at Regents must be a gifted child. Parents look at our classrooms and curriculum and suppose that all the children must have exceptionally superior intelligence. The germ of truth here lies in the way Regents’s classical methodology capitalizes on children’s natural abilities to learn and is able to help ordinary children achieve extraordinary results by using learning methods that have been proven through the centuries.
The fact is that Regents students range from average or even below average to exceptional abilities. As a friend of mine used to say, there are pints, there are quarts, and there are gallons! We have all kinds at Regents, and all kinds of students can and do succeed at Regents. When you have a motivated student, involved parents, caring teachers with small class sizes, and proven classical curriculum and methods – that is a formula for success for a child with almost any ability level.
“Classical Christian schools are too radical.” A healthy amount of skepticism is often a good thing. I’m glad I was skeptical about hoarding for Y2K. And many parents are skeptical when it comes to “messing” with their children. Things that seem new and innovative, bold variations from the norm, are often met with uncertainty. But the stubborn fact is that classical education is the method of education that has been the educational model of Western civilization for centuries. It’s a bit of a stretch to consider the schooling of Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson to be new-fangled, yet many do.
Contemporary education is in a constant state of flux because of pedagogical experimentation. New methods are tried and abandoned, and then newer methods are introduced. In this milieu anything traditional seems out of phase and even extreme. But this is precisely the point where we need to think rightly: classical education provides a basic structure for teaching children that complements children’s natural, developmental growth and that draws on the wisdom of 1,000 years of educational tradition. Any family who wants to the very best education possible for their children should look into classical Christian education. Period. There is no better model out there.
I hope that you who are experiencing classical Christian education first-hand can attest to its effectiveness. I hope that these urban legends appear to you to be the myths that they really are. Do you have questions about classical Christian education? I would encourage you to do some research – either online or with a good book (I can recommend many sources of each kind). And I would encourage us all to be advocates of classical Christian education in our community. I am so thankful for the difference it has made with my own children, and I hope you feel the same and are able to share your enthusiasm.