Freedom and Classical Christian Education, Part 2


Students go to a classical Christian  school and discipline themselves to submit to and obey their teachers and work and toil and labor precisely so that they will be no man’s slave.

Our children are receiving a classical education, and classically, down through the centuries, education has been understood to be a liberal education. It is study of the liberal arts. “Liberal” comes from the Latin word liber, which of course means “free.” And our children go to a “school” and are training to become “scholars” as they engage in “scholarship,” and those words come from the Greek word schole, which means “leisure.” That may sound strange to us, but there was a reason that in the ancient world a schole was a place of leisure.

A school is a place where scholars learn to make the best use of their leisure.  Students are those people who are truly free, and are learning how to live not as slaves, not as bondservants, but as free men and women who have been prepared for a life of freedom.

But free in what sense? What does it mean to be free and to live as free men and women? Does it mean that our children are being educated so that they can be free to do literally anything they want, however repulsive or noble? Is it so that they will be free from doing anything anyone tells them to do? Is that what freedom is?

In the ancient world not everyone received an education. Most people, including slaves, never went to school. Going to school, classically, was fitting not for a slave whose life was filled with the work he did at the command of his master, doing toilsome and merely necessary tasks like plowing the field or cleaning the floor or buying goods. But instead our children are being trained to think and understand so that they can live a good and rich life, so that they are free to do those things that they choose to do, and so that they will be trained to choose good things.

Our children are being given the privilege of an education so that they can be free men or women — not so that they are free to do anything they want but so that they are free to do whatever is right, worthy, and noble. Through their  education, God is preparing them to live in a free society, equipped and trained and disciplined and inclined toward the lovely and noble and good, so that they can do all that God would call them to for the good of others and for His Kingdom.

So their education fits them out not to be a slave but to be a truly free man or woman.


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