The truths and tools that CSW students are learning and striving to master are difficult and in some ways controversial. The government education system began systematically moving away from these truths when it undertook a progressive mode. The government sought to produce cogs and left the academic enlightenment to students who had the luxury of a higher education. The government desired a work force, not necessarily thoughtful, conscientious citizens. I believe the government education system now realizes their systems’ inability to educate. In an effort to bolster its position it has created the Common Core Standards. When looking at the face of Common Core Standards, they seem appropriate: a set of skills or facts that all students should know. Issues arise as to what those skills or facts should be and who or what decides. Beneath this lie the primary questions: What presuppositions are at work in creating this list of skills and facts? Are students created in the image of God? Is there a “master plan” for these students? Will all students fit into a predefined mold? Progressive models of education have answers to these questions, and though they do not readily provide those answers, the curriculum and pedagogy they use alludes to them.
We at CSW must answer those same questions. And we do answer them. Therefore everything we strive to do should operate from a Christocentric position. We know that students are created in the image of God. We know that He has a plan for them. We know they will not all learn the same way because He made each of them to be different, wonderfully different. As they grow and learn, their various passions and gifts are exposed and developed. The model of instruction and curriculum we utilize acknowledges His amazing creativity and marvelous grace. It is fascinating to watch what He is doing with students through CSW.
In the day to day exchanges of students we can see them actively pursuing truth. To watch and listen while two students argue/debate through the various elements of Euripides is fascinating, and humorous at times. When should people be punished? What is the proper cost of winning? How do we decide what is worth winning? These are great conversations, conversations our elected officials would do well to have. At CSW our students are accompanying one another through the process of education. Together they are seeking answers, good answers seasoned with reason and logic.
Everyday I watch students engage each other in ways that are encouraging, gentle, and gracious. They know how to motivate and provoke those laboring alongside them. As they maneuver their way through this time in their lives, they are learning how to rightly view themselves and how to view those Christ has placed in their community. Now, mind you, these students are still growing and learning (but aren’t we all?) and while they do not always err on the side of grace and compassion, most of the time they do.
Last year we took the Logic and Rhetoric students to Washington D.C. The trip was filled with time at monuments, cemeteries, and other culturally significant sites. When presented with a choice of activities, I enlisted a group of students and marched them off towards the Fine Arts Museum to ensure their time wasn’t wasted. At first I assumed they would humor me in my desire to take a stroll through the museum, but when we arrived they took me in tow to see as many of their favorite artists as they could. It was I who was humoring them. They simply needed an adult to chaperone and I was well rewarded for playing the part.
What is happening with students at CSW is nothing short of amazing. Schools across the country are attempting to accomplish what CSW is refining. Students are not only developing tools that will help them throughout their life, they are learning how to be citizens—citizens with the capability to discern truth, treasure beauty and seek goodness. The end goal of CSW is not only to prepare students for future educational opportunities or to simply prepare them for “life”. We are preparing them for so much more—an opportunity to be useful to the Kingdom and bring glory to the King.
Soli Deo Gloria,
M. Wade Ortego