A few months ago, a Petra mom and I were discussing this article about classical education and the home when she started to tear up. When I asked her what was wrong, her response was genuine and heartfelt:
“I read that article and thought, ‘Great! Here are just more ways I’m failing as a parent,'” she shared. “As if what we do with our kids at Petra isn’t weird enough. It feels like we’re preparing them for a world that isn’t going to want them, and then what?”
Handing her a box of Kleenex, I asked a few more questions. Did something happen in her kids’ classes? Were her children struggling with what they were learning? She reassured me her concern was cultural, not academic.
“I know my kids are getting the best education at Petra, no question,” she said. “But the more we hold to the tenets of classical Christian education, the wider the gap seems to get between us and the world in which we have to live. I’m just weary of the tension.”
I could relate to her feelings of uncertainty, as very few of us at Petra (including your friendly neighborhood Headmaster) were educated classically. But somewhere along the line, we happened to taste this particular educational elixir, determined it to be good, true, and beautiful, and are attempting to drink the classical Kool-Aid to the dregs.
It would probably be a whole lot easier if we didn’t. But (and this was the question I eventually posed to the mom), what’s the alternative? Homeschooling? Perhaps for some, but not many do it well in breadth and depth. Unschooling? Depends on your definition (as well as your threshold for ambiguity). Online? Maybe for the information, but there’s little real relationship that goes beyond the screen. Government schooling? For many (and for many different reasons), that dog just won’t hunt.
We both agreed: nothing compares to a classical Christian education as the third institution alongside family and Church to form a child’s mental and moral frame. But if done well, nothing’s as challenging either, which is why we often begin to have doubts, particularly if left alone with them.
Maybe, like the mom mentioned above, you’re tired…or afraid…or both. Maybe all of this is new to you, and you want reassurance from other parents further down the road that the path you (and they) are on is for your kids’ best.
Or maybe you’re married to the mom mentioned above, and you’re wondering how to counsel…or console…or both. Maybe all this is new to you as well, and you’re wondering if what’s best for your kids (and your spouse) is worth it or might be found somewhere else.
As we continue through the school year to the beginning of re-enrollment, now is as good a time as any for our upcoming Adventure Awaits celebration. We – all of us – need to be encouraged, inspired, and reassured in a way that reminds us why, at some point in the past, we thought the history and tradition of a classical and Christian education made the most sense for our kids.
We need to rub shoulders with others who are a few steps further down the road than we are in their decision. We need to welcome potential new parents who are a few steps behind where we might be and need to hear from us. After all, as the itinerant Irish preacher Bono says, “Sometimes you preach what you need to hear.” Indeed, for their sake…and for ours.
If you’ve yet to purchase tickets for yourself and others you would invite, please do so even this week. Spots are going fast and we don’t want you or anyone you might want to invite to miss this opportunity. I promise you three things about Adventure Awaits: 1) it will be fun; 2) it will be inspiring; and 3) you’ll be glad you came.
And, during these cold February days, if you’re feeling at all like the Petra mom above, please reach out as she did, either to a fellow parent, a teacher, a staff member, or even me. What we’re trying to do as a counter-cultural educational movement is not hard; it’s impossible! The saving grace is that we have the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and each other, all of whom I believe will make the difference – for the good of our kids and the desperate world into which we’ll send them.
See you Thursday, February 28, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Adventure Awaits!