Monthly Archives: January 2019


Classical Education: A Few Simple and Direct Words of Explanation

Classical Christian education is a new and exotic animal for many Regents Academy parents. I always appreciate finding simple and direct explanations of many of the concepts, otherwise unclear or unknown, associated with our school’s philosophy of education. Below are a few questions and brief answers by Douglas Wilson that get right to the heart of several of these issues. I hope they are a help to you and also a way for you to be able to share what you’ve found with others.

What is classical education and how does it benefit the student?

Classical education refers to two principal things. The first is the structure of the curriculum, which follows the medieval Trivium. This consists of grammar, dialectic (or logic), and rhetoric. In her wonderful essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Dorothy Sayers observed that these three stages of the Trivium correspond nicely to three basic stages in child development—what she called the poll parrot stage, the pert stage, and the poetic stage. Classical education instills the elements of the Trivium at the ages of the student when acquiring that element is most natural. When the process is over, the student has acquired the tools of learning. The second aspect of classical education refers to the content of the curriculum, which emphasizes the great works of western civilization—Homer, Virgil, Herodotus, Augustine, Beowulf, and so forth.

Some parents may be put off by classical education because Latin is a central element and they’ve had no background in the language. Why is the study of Latin important? 

Over 50% of English vocabulary comes from Latin. Learning Latin is a wonderful way to strengthen English vocabulary skills, not to mention learning how grammar works. I learned some things about English grammar when I first learned Latin. Latin is also the foundation of modern Romance languages—it is a wonderful platform from which to learn Spanish, French, Romanian, Italian, and so on. And then there is a literary element. Many of the great works in English literature presuppose a knowledge of the classical world and, to a lesser extent, a knowledge of their languages. Finally, Latin is a great mental discipline, which carries over into other subjects. The study of Latin certainly enriches a student.

Because of its emphasis on “intellectualism” and because works from the pre-Christian era are part of the curriculum, some people may view classical education as incompatible with the Christian faith. What is your response to these concerns?

It is quite true that students should not be simply “turned loose” in the thickets of pagan literature. The Greco-Roman world was incompatible with the Christian faith—until the Christian faith overthrew it. Now that this has happened, we simply must take into account the nature of that battle. The New Testament cannot really be understood without understanding its context, which happens to be the context of the classical world. Jesus was born in the reign of Caesar Augustus. Gallio threw the apostle Paul out of court—and Gallio was the brother to the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca. Paul cast a demon (lit. a spirit of a python, a snake that was sacred to the god Apollo) out of girl at Philippi, and the story suddenly makes more sense. So classical education, rightly understood, rejects a cold intellectualism and rejects any attempt to combine Christian and pagan categories.

Many jobs in today’s society are specialized, especially those in technology and the sciences. What is the value of a classical education in light of such an environment? Is classical education for everybody?

The point of classical education is to teach the kids how to think, giving them the tools of learning so that they can reason things through themselves. The point is not vocational training primarily, and this is why it is such good vocational training. This is not to say that classical education is for everyone (I do not believe that it necessarily is). But I do want to say that a classical Christian education should be available in every community, so that it is at least an option for every Christian household.

Douglas Wilson is the author of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, The Case for Classical Christian Education, and many other books and articles associated with classical Christian education. You can find his books on Amazon.com and many of his materials on line.

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The Lesser Known Demon

Here are some wise words from teacher and author Josh Gibbs at the Circe Institute blog: “The Lesser Known Demon.”

There are two kinds of demons. Nearly everyone is familiar with the first kind. Almost no one is familiar with the second kind.

The first kind of demon is simply the demon of folklore. He comes to tempt, to whisper lies, to deceive a man into rejecting God. The first kind of demon is a Baal or a Dagon, who con men and distract them from the truth. Such demons betake themselves to bridges and cliffs and invite innocent passersby to leap off for no good reason. These are the malevolent beings who suddenly fling foul thoughts into a man’s head so that he will needlessly question himself, form a base opinion of himself, and act accordingly. We have read of such demons in Scripture, for they throw children into fire or water, or incite a man to cut himself with stones. These demons are commonly known by every nation of the world, Christian and heathen alike.

However, there is another variety of demon whose work is wholly unlike the first, for he is not a tempter or liar. The first kind of demon is highly intellectual, and, as Milton suggests in Paradise Lost, has been meticulously studying mankind for nearly eight thousand years now. The first kind has a file on you which is several feet thick. He knows your weaknesses, your strengths, and perpetually strategizes on how best to snatch your love of God. The second variety of demon is not so cunning, though. The second variety of demon does not labor to trick a man into sinning, but simply helps him get away with the sin he has already committed.

This demon has a name in the infernal kingdom. He is known as a cellar demon, for any sin which a man gets away with is cellared in his soul to ferment and grow rich and heady. While not all demons are of one mind on the matter, a great many fiends would prefer a man not commit a certain sin than that he commit that sin and immediately be found out. Demons are not so impatient as you might have been led to believe. For instance, if a demon has the chance to tempt a man to drunkenness on a Friday night, yet knows the man will be caught, or the demon can wait until Sunday evening to do his tempting, and knows the man will not get caught then, well, the average demon will wait. Many thousands of years ago, the much-celebrated demon Belial wrote a highly influential book entitled Stored Up Wrath. The very famous first line of that book is, “I play the long game,” and to this day, lesser demons encourage one another with those words on a daily basis.

You see, nothing mucks up the work of a demon quite like his subject getting caught, for getting caught leads to punishments, self-reflection, witnesses, the loss of anonymity. Contrary to what most human beings think, getting caught usually restores community and reinforces crumbling bonds of unity. There is little which is truer in a man’s soul than his deep-down yearning to be found out, for a man cannot be known until he is found, and every man wants to be known.

Cellar demons are not free, and tempters must hire them at exorbitant rates. A cellar demon is like an insurance policy which is taken out after a successful round of temptation. The cellar demon comes along and covers over a fellow’s tracks, brushes evidence under the rug, alerts the sinner to remove certain clues, directs the attention of the authorities to different matters. Teenage boys often believe themselves far more clever and sneaky than they truly are— it is rarely their own craftiness which allows them to get away with sin, and far more often the work of cellar demons. Cellar demons charge more to conceal the sins of teenage boys than they do the sins of housewives or the elderly, but tempters always pay up. Cellared sin is simply that valuable in the teenage soul. 

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Why Christian Education?

“Why Christian education?” This is a question that we need to ask and answer again and again. You and I sacrifice to send our children to a school that forthrightly exalts Jesus Christ as Lord. Here at the beginning of a new year, it is good to be reminded that we are doing so for excellent reasons. So in that spirit, here are “10 Big Ideas to Consider” from the website discoverchristianschools.com that are great reminders of just how important it is to commit ourselves to providing our children with a Christ-centered education.

1. There are basically two kingdoms: a kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness. It seems strange to have those who walk in darkness educate children of light. It doesn’t fit.

2. If Jesus Christ is Lord, then He is Lord of all. We cannot divide things into secular and sacred.

3. All truth is God’s truth, and God’s Word sheds light on our path. Only in His light can we see light. Education is not focused on possibilities but on certainties found in God’s Word.

4. Deuteronomy 6 tells parents that, in all they do, they should provide a godly education 24/7.

5. Three key institutions that shape a child are the home, the church and the school. Children are served best when all three institutions point them in the same direction.

6. Only an education that has the liberty to address the whole child — social, intellectual, emotional, physical AND spiritual — reaches the possibility of excellence.

7. The best preparation for effective service is to be well grounded in one’s mind before direct engagement of the culture.

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