Classical Lutheran education

Thanks to Rev. Joel Brondos, a leading practitioner of Classical Lutheran education, for his comment on the post “Classical Education vs. Traditional Education.” In case you missed it:

Not only is “classical education” not to be equated with “traditional education.” It isn’t a repristination of the “classical” education from previous centuries either. There are, in fact, various kinds of classical education(s).

Among the people I serve, “Classical Lutheran Education” teaches children to look to God in faith (justification) and to care for one’s neighbor in love (vocation) following the Six Chief Parts and the Seven Liberal Arts.

It holds that “freedom” (i.e. liberal) isn’t merely formed from the crucible of ancient democracies but is fashioned rather in terms of Luther’s work “The Freedom of a Christian,” the paradox wherein a Christian “is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; and is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to all.”

We not only teach children to read well; we teach them to be well-read. We believe that teaching content is just as important as teaching skills and that teachers must not merely be masters of methods but shall have mastered the subject matter.

We teach what it means to be human, selecting literature not merely on the basis of whether it has a controlled vocabulary or has been a cultural favorite but rather in terms of what it teaches us about the human condition.

And when it comes to teaching science and mathematics, we also teach about the lives of scientists and mathematicians, so that children know that math is not merely cold calculations but the awesome discoveries of geniuses.

We don’t try to entertain children or excite them, but rather we strive to fascinate them, directing their curiosity by means of disciplines so that their future creativity draws on the wonders they have observed and learned with a keen eye.

We teach Phil. 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” even as we teach children not to be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14).

Which reminds me, if you want to learn more and to put this kind of education into practice, whether at home or a school, come to the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education conference next week, August 5-7, at my new stomping grounds, Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, Virginia.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Anon

    And how does Synod look upon this? Do any of our colleges of education support this? Or do they all oppose it in favor of progressivist education?

    I don’t think Joel Brandos understands it all yet, he has much room to improve, that goes for me and everyone else, too. We need to be semper reformanda in our understanding how how best to do Christian education. And very wary of new fads, but not deifying old fads, either.

  • Anon

    And how does Synod look upon this? Do any of our colleges of education support this? Or do they all oppose it in favor of progressivist education?

    I don’t think Joel Brandos understands it all yet, he has much room to improve, that goes for me and everyone else, too. We need to be semper reformanda in our understanding how how best to do Christian education. And very wary of new fads, but not deifying old fads, either.

  • Bethany Smith

    I am wondering about the differences between the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in regard to classical education. How does a Lutheran or a Calvinist foundation affect the approach to and application of classical education? Are there any discernable differences?

  • Bethany Smith

    I am wondering about the differences between the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in regard to classical education. How does a Lutheran or a Calvinist foundation affect the approach to and application of classical education? Are there any discernable differences?


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