Reviewing or Designing a Curriculum

Reflecting on the previous post, I thought that one great difference between Christian classical education and conventional metrics is that the former is personal and the latter is abstract. The root concept of Christian classical education is that there are wise men and women to whom we should listen and whom we should imitate. In so doing, we can become wise like them.

This involves relationships and all the nuances implied in love. Standardized testing, for example, lacks nuance.

So then I got thinking about curriculum. How are we to design them and review them in a manner that honors the nature of the Christian classical approach. This is where things become challenging – not so much because it makes it harder (it doesn’t necessarily) but because it calls for a level of honesty we might not want to reach.

The thing is, Christian classical education is theological and metaphysical. Conventional education is not allowed to be theological, and I don’t just mean legally. And most conventional testers or administrators or teachers get a little annoyed when you bring in metaphysics. They pretty well echo Dewey’s attitude that education is practical, not metaphysical.

But Christian classical education is shamelessly metaphsysical. It goes beyond physics. It believes there is a realm that is not understood by the tools of the natural sciences. It believes that the mind can perceive things that the senses cannot.

It follows that if you want to design a Christian classical curriculum, or even just a classical curriculum, you are going to have to implement metaphysics into it.

If you are a parent or teacher, you will want to fulfill your duty and review the materials your school is using. So how do you do so? You need to look at it from each of the following perspectives:

Theological
Philosophical/Metaphysical
Epistemological
Ethical
Aesthetic
And after all that you might as well look at the content too.

Are you still here? If so, you are probably ready to stab me. “How am I supposed to review a curriculum on all those levels?” You are asking, and not calmly.

Well, how have you reviewed curricula up to this point? I would ask. No doubt it included some elements, at least, from those categories. And beyond that, you have probably turned to experts, like Laura Berquist, Susan Wise-Baur, and Veritas Press.

That’s what you should continue to do. Only now you can do it a little more aware of what you are doing. The mistake would be to not bear your responsibility for your students or children. You do need to reflect on the nature of what you are doing or asking a school to do.

What do you mean by education? What do you want from it? What worldview do you want your children to be nurtured in? What kind of environment do you want them to be educated in? How do you believe children learn? What is knowable, and what is not? How should knowledge be assessed? What is knowledge?

Rest assured, if you are a Christian and or a lover of classical education, the chasm between your answers to those questions and those of the conventional educator is, in some places, vast.

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