The College Admissions Scandal vs. Classical Christian Education

The College Admissions Scandal vs. Classical Christian Education March 20, 2019

The college admissions scandal keeps growing.  The mastermind behind the cheating and bribery scheme says that he did the same sort of thing for 750 families.  It has also come out that it’s a common practice for wealthy families to buy extra time for their children to take the SAT test by purchasing phony diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder or other mental difficulties such as “anxiety.”  An audit showed that most of the students granted extra time to take the test happened to be from the very wealthy demographic.  And that as many as 25% of the students in the elite institutions are classified as “disabled,” mostly for mental health diagnoses.

So is education about social status or about learning something?  And if the latter, what do you want your child to learn?

Mark Hemingway has written an excellent discussion about the college admissions scandal and the underlying issues about education that it raises.  In the course of the piece, he tell about what he and his wife, Mollie (another prominent Christian journalist), want for their children.  Also how they found it at their classical Lutheran school.

From Mark Hemingway, Do You Want Your Kids To Go To An Elite College Or Get An Education? They’re Not The Same Thing, in The Federalist:

. . .my wife and I have a very different view of what a proper education looks like than does American culture writ large. Our primary goal is that we raise children who continue to practice our Lutheran faith and have stable, child-rearing families.

Yes, concerns about career achievement and financial security are in the mix, but only insofar as they are necessary to support their family, church, and community, and do not otherwise interfere with a life focused on higher things. We believe inculcating specific values such as gratitude, selflessness, charity, and a diligent work ethic is a recipe for their happiness.

Decisions related to educational philosophy have dominated our lives. We made significant financial sacrifices to move close to where our Lutheran church’s classical school is located, and we are actively involved in the school as parents and members of the congregation. I have educated myself in classical curricula and pedagogy, and I’m even on the school board.

Getting good grades at my children’s school requires even the good students to grow and face challenges. The school encourages self-sufficiency among students, and is not afraid for children to face consequences for bad behavior and mistakes. This is what I want for my children, precisely because I want what’s best for them.

Read the whole article, in which Hemingway discusses the contrary philosophy of credentialism, the nature of our elites, and the value of applied knowledge.  He concludes:

If you really care about your kids’ education, you will be focused on cultivating their faith and character; making sure that they understand the accumulation of knowledge is ultimately a tool for improving the world around them, and not just about credentials and wealth; and give your children the confidence and capability to forge a path in life of their choosing.

To learn more about classical Christian education, particularly classical Lutheran education, go here.  (Look especially at the various categories in the “about” section.)

And come to the annual conference of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, which will be held July 16-18 at Concordia University Chicago.  The theme will be “Further Up and Further In:  The Lutheran Liberal Arts Today.”  The collegiate-level Center for the Advancement of the Lutheran Liberal Arts will also be meeting there concurrently.  For more details and to register, go here.  I’ll be there, giving a seminar on C. S. Lewis, including a field trip to the Wade Collection!

And lest you think that the “liberal arts” means “the humanities,” which is the meaning advanced by progressive education with its specialization and humanism, rather than the mental disciplines that promote “liberty” including mathematics, go here.


Photo via MaxPixel, CC0, Public Domain





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