We could end our discussion of what we’ve learned from helping to start a classical Christian school with ten lessons. Ten is probably more than enough. But, as we mentioned last time, we have a bonus lesson that goes back to what impressed us about classical education in the first place. We’ve left the first part of the lesson blank on purpose. It’s for you to fill in later.
Lesson 11. ___________________: being prayerfully intentional
When we started looking for a school for our first born, we were struck by the intentionality of the classical school we visited. The teachers and administrators and parents we spoke with articulated a clear vision of the education they planned and hoped for their students. They described a curriculum that was not a patch-work approach to meeting state standards, but one where each subject was clearly laid out across the grade levels and even interconnected with the other subjects with the goal of leading students to embrace all that is true and good and beautiful. They told us about their vision for the characters and souls of the children. The students themselves displayed the fruits of this education—rising to challenges, even seeking out challenges, and delighting in those things God delights in. What struck us most was that classical education not only taught about human nature’s telos (our goal or purpose), it was itself directed toward a telos. This highly intentional approach to education was a refreshing change from what we had seen elsewhere.
So, our Lesson 11 has a blank for you to fill in a lesson(s) for your own family. The phrase following the colon, “being prayerfully intentional” is designed to guide you. You know your family best. Don’t just fall into things. If Covid-19 has had one positive effect, it’s that it has shaken us up a bit and hopefully made us stop and think for a while. Perhaps we’ve been living in unintentional ways, having fallen into schedules and habits that are not actually helping us flourish as individuals or as a family. Now is the time to talk about what’s working and what could go more smoothly. What things can you celebrate? What things need to be addressed? What habits broken? What habits formed?
Use your imagination to put yourself in another’s shoes and to come up with creative ways for your family and each of its members to thrive. It may help to think about five categories; what things can you do that are good for your: mind, body, soul, heart, and character? What things have you done daily or weekly to challenge your mind (e.g., reading a good book, practicing an instrument, learning a new game)? What things have you done for your body (e.g., exercising, sleeping enough, eating good food)? What have you done to learn more about and grow closer to God (e.g., family or individual prayer, Scripture memorization, worship)? What have you done to form your desires or loves well (watching good movies, listening to good music, eating together and playing games as a family)? What have you done to serve others (e.g., doing chores, helping a neighbor or friend)? In order to flourish as God intends, we need to pay attention to each of these categories, not just the ones we find easier to fill. We are designed to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Surround all of these efforts with prayer. As difficult as it is to break old patterns and establish new ones, and as fragile as our good patterns are, we serve a God who is wise beyond measure and who promises to give us wisdom if we ask. As we enter a somewhat strange summer and anticipate a relatively uncertain fall, let us seek his wisdom for all our decisions big and small.