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Parenting | 8 Minutes

How to Give Your Child a Classical Education (Despite Not Having One Yourself)

How to Give Your Child a Classical Education (Despite Not Having One Yourself)

Three Reasons You Can Give Your Child a Classical Education (Despite Not Having One Yourself)

My Uncle Ben was an older man when I was in college. After returning from World War II, he farmed as a bachelor for the rest of his life. God put it on my heart to stop by and see him periodically. I am so glad that I did. He was an amazing storyteller and teacher. One day, he and I were sitting out on his porch. Every table and cabinet was covered with perfectly ripe tomatoes he had picked from his garden. He started teaching me about the national debt, one of his favorite topics. The conversation went something like this:

Uncle Ben: Would you like me to give you a tomato?

Me: Sure, they’re beautiful, and my mom would love it if I brought one home.

Uncle Ben: Would you like more than one, maybe three or ten?

Me: Sure, that would be great, but what does this have to do with the national debt?

Uncle Ben: Would you like all the tomatoes?

Me: Uhh… I’m not sure, but I don’t see the connection….

Uncle Ben: You know how many tomatoes I can give you?

Me: As many as you want?

Uncle Ben: No, I can give you all my tomatoes. Do you know what I can’t give you?

Me: No.

Uncle Ben: I can’t give you more tomatoes than I have. Once I am out of tomatoes, I’m out.

This bit of homespun wisdom points to the fact that politicians love giving away what they don’t have. Giving away what you don’t have is a problem. It would almost seem like a miracle. Still, I see many parents grappling with the fact that they’re trying to give their children the classical Christian education they did not receive. They wonder if it is wise to try to give what they don’t have.

In this post, I will touch on three reasons why you can still give your child a classical Christian education even if you haven’t had one.

Reason 1: You Know That a Classical Christian Education is What Your Child Needs

I remember when I was first setting out to give children a classical Christian education. Interestingly, I was not giving this education to my children but to other people’s children. Looking back, I wasn't prepared, but I was convinced that this was what these children so desperately needed.

I believe that being convinced that children need this sort of education is the most necessary prerequisite for providing it. The work you will do as a school teacher or a homeschooling parent is massive.

It won’t make sense all the time.

You’re going to blow it.

Somedays, the kids won’t like it.

You won’t like it some days, but if you know this is what they need, you’ll give it to them. It’s a little like when my daughters were young and would get a splinter in their foot. I would get out some tweezers or a needle to get it out. It was a struggle, and they had to be brave, but I could not stop because leaving the splinter in was not an option.

So, are you left with the nagging question, “Does my child need a classical Christian education?” There are two things that convinced me that my children needed a classical Christian education (CCE).

First, CEE is fitted to a free human, and I was committed to helping them be free as best I could. This is not to denigrate a technical education. Paul was a tentmaker. This skill aided his ministry. Many of our children should be affirmed in pursuing skill-based fields and callings. Still, as a dad, I knew they needed to have a CCE underneath any skills training because it helped them understand why they were doing what they were doing. Technical education shows people how to do things.

Second, CCE is about giving people a cultural heritage. The Greeks looked at people who lived outside their stories' realm as barbarians. They called them this because when these people spoke, all the Greeks heard was “bar-bar-bar-bar.” Having a cultural heritage helps you understand the work that you inhabit. Why do we have the 5th Amendment right to avoid testifying against ourselves? We have it because Jewish law would not condone testimony in a capital case where people were being forced to testify against themselves. (This is why Caiaphas asking Jesus if He is the Christ is so wrong.) Why do Presidents and Supreme Court Justices say, “So help me God” at the end of their oath of office? Because George Washington added this to his oath when he was first sworn in as President. You can only know these things if you have studied the culture in which you live.

Finally, this knowledge helps you be humble, and being humble is the prerequisite for learning anything rightly. Knowing that you don’t know everything you want helps you to be reliant on God. It also enables you to be a learner while teaching the children under your charge. You can train them in how to glory in learning by being a model of intellectual curiosity.

Reason 2: There’s Always Joy in Parents Sacrificing to Give Their Children Opportunities to Excel

In America, we always want our children to have it better than we did. This has been true for many generations. Sadly, for the last number of generations, we believed that the path to making life better was the path of progressive education. This path led to learning compliance instead of critical thinking and communication skills. We also walked away from our cultural heritage, which, warts and all, is a glorious heritage.

So, as parents, you need to embrace the American spirit while correcting the educational direction of the last century. This is a glorious adventure and one that you should help your children or students to buy into. We are on the cutting edge of an educational rebellion against rebellion. Just saying that seems fun!

Finally, know this: you can not only make but also enjoy the necessary sacrifices. Recently, I was at a high school football game. The school I run has an arrangement with a local public school that allows our students to play on their teams if our school does not field a team in that sport. This young man has earned a spot as team captain, and after the game I watched, it was announced that he earned the defensive “game ball” for being the best defender. The young man was elated! I turned to his father to congratulate him, and the look of pride and enjoyment that I saw on this young man’s father’s face was striking. I don’t think I have ever seen him as happy. This dad had made many sacrifices, and so had the son. That night, all the weightlifting, two-a-day practices, and shoulder surgeries were worth it. The sacrifices became sensible in this moment of joy.

Loving your child enough to provide a CCE, whether in a homeschool or a school setting, is a sacrifice of which you can be proud. I often see this after Senior Thesis presentations. Parents are happy (Almost as happy as the student after the ordeal is over)! Some are tearful. Some are shaking my hand so vigorously that I worry about tendonitis. They have poured thousands of dollars into their child’s education. They sacrificed to nourish the roots; now, they received the joy of tasting the fruit.

Reason 3: If God Calls You to it, He will provide the Strength You Need

The final reason I know you can provide CCE for your child is that you’re not doing this task alone. If God is calling you to this, He will be faithful to give you the wisdom or the resources to provide a Christ-centered education for your children or students.

This doesn’t mean you’ll always receive this blessing precisely the way you desire. Sometimes God might call you to one thing, and you might desire another. Any time anything is destroying your marriage or your relationship with your child, you need to step back and consider whether the method you’re following is what God is calling you to. It is hard to teach 6 different homeschool students on six different levels in all of the subjects. I have seen people who can do this well, but prudence might advise that you consider changing the delivery method if your chosen method is not working.

When God calls, He gives strength. This doesn’t mean that we’ll feel this strength daily, nor does it mean that we won’t be tired at the end of an academic year. My teachers are always exhausted at the end of the year, and I’m so proud that they are. They have poured themselves out for their students.

You can do it! You can give your child a classical Christian education even if you haven’t had one yourself.

  • You can because you know that your child needs it.

  • You can because you can and must make sacrifices for your children.

  • More than all of this, God walks with you to help you accomplish more than you can ask or imagine.

It might feel like it takes a miracle, but we serve a God who died for us and who promises to raise the dead.

If you’d like help figuring out how to make classical education work for your family, schedule a free consultation today to talk with an expert!