They say sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
In April of 2018, teachers across the state of Oklahoma walked out of the classroom striking against low pay and crowded classrooms. As my college daughter watched the news coverage, she felt grateful for the classical, Christian education she received at Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville, Texas. She sent me this text:
"I've been right here in the middle of the teacher walkouts. It's so sad how poor the education system is here. Just wanted to say thank you for making sure I had a good education. Some of the kids here are struggling to get any at all."
A few years earlier when she was climbing through her classical education, I am sure she had many thoughts. I don’t believe “thank you” was one of them. There were many days she didn’t understand the why behind the classical. It is common for classical students to express gratitude for their education long after they have abandoned the halls of high school. It is rare for students to feel this gratitude for or understanding of classical education while they are still in it. Rebekah Merkle desired to help high school students understand the gift of classical education so she wrote a book for students called, Classical Me, Classical Thee: Squander Not Thine Education.
Rebekah has spent her entire life around classical education. She is the daughter of Doug Wilson, author of The Case for Classical Christian Education. Rebekah attended some of the very first classical Christian classes in the United States. She graduated from a classical school and now teaches humanities at a classical, Christian high school. She was born and bred in the classical school movement. She has a unique perspective as both the student and the teacher.
In her book, Rebekah wants classical students to know:
“We hope that, at the end of this educational process, you will be able to think clearly. The facts you are being taught are not the end goal of learning any more than the wall sit is the end goal of basketball. You are spending your days in the classroom doing drills in much the same way that you do in basketball practice. They are designed to equip you, to strengthen you, to make you into a person who can step out of the classroom and into the world and successfully negotiate situations you have never encountered before… What we want others to be struck by is the fact that you actually know what you think and why you think it.”
“When you come out the other end of the chute after years of this, you will have a brain that is more organized, discerning, attuned to nuance, and capable of saying exactly what you want to say…(and this is the most important part) your mind will have been trained to do that even if you forget all the Latin you ever studied.”
“Rhetoric is the class that is trying to turn you into a leader…But the skills you are learning in rhetoric are actually all about beauty, about expression, about learning to articulate clearly and communicate precisely in order that truth will seem desirable to the hearer. It’s about making that truth so utterly compelling that believing it is obligatory.”
“Worldview is a cohesive picture of all of life-seeing everything connect with everything else and being able to explain how each piece fits into the bigger picture. It is about seeing all of life - whatever you undertake and wherever you work - as connected in Christ and governed by Him….If you take the truth you learned in your 10:00 am doctrine class about the fall of man, and you bring that truth with you into your 2:00 pm science class (rather than leaving it shut up in your locker), you will discover a profound intersection. If you read the account of the flood in Genesis and bring that with you into geology class, you suddenly won’t simply be seeing sedimentary rock layers, you will also be seeing a story. You’ll be looking at the scars left by a flood, which was brought about by God’s judgment for the profound sinfulness of man.”
“The fact that you are in the school you are in means that you have been given a giant, ridiculous, absurd blessing…To whom much is given, much is required. “
Classical Me, Classical Thee: Squander Not Thine Education is full of profound, but simple explanations for the reasons why behind classical, Christian education. I recommend this book for both classical students and parents. It is a playful, easy read.