Redeemer Classical School is a different kind of school.
The system of interlocking monopolies that is American education has given most American children and their teachers substandard preparation for a Christ-centered life of moral and mental excellence. The fruits of this are everywhere, in the degradation of American families, in decades of shockingly low reading habits and proficiency among average Americans, in coarsened and overemotional political discourse, in cold hearts towards Christ in our homes and churches.
Schools cannot save a person’s soul. Only Jesus can. But schools can support Christ’s work or fight it. Our goal, of course, is to do the former.
Most American schools, curricula, and assumptions about education fit an anti-Christian philosophy known as “progressive education.” Even many Christian schools unknowingly perpetuate anti-Christian assumptions because so many Christian teachers and headmasters have been trained through secular institutions and programs (and are often required to be so by state certification mandates). Cheryle Lowe at Memoria Press gives the “Four Fatal Flaws of Progressive Education” as follows:
1. Rejection of truth.
2. Rejection of original sin.
3. Education is a means to power.
4. Collectivism and standardization.
Our Philosophical Distinctives Summed Up In One Chart
Let’s take a look at how these bad ideas manifest in progressive education through a simple chart (modified from one created by The Ambrose Group).
|Conventional, Progressive Schooling||Classical, Christian Education|
|Equality: The bar of competence should be lowered until all students can reach it.||Excellence: Each student should be cultivated to his highest potential.|
|Diversity: Criticizes Western, Judaeo-Christian heritage for imperialism, slavery, and the patriarchy.||Heritage: Explores the West’s triumphs, failures, ideals, and contributions to the world.|
|Multiculturalism: Says all cultures are equal and encourages ethnic tribalism and resentment.||Universal Truth: Holds all cultures to the same universal standard of goodness, recognizing that some ways of life are better than others|
|Technocratic: Emphasizes math and modern sciences, downplaying the value of art, literature, and history.||Humane: Integrates arts, sciences, humanities, and religion to pursue truth as a whole.|
|Relativism: All moral ideas and actions are equally valid.||Idealism: Right and wrong are objective, external, and can be known.|
|Progressive: Obsession with new techniques and technology.||Traditional: Preserve content and approaches with a proven record based in an unchanging human nature.|
|Entertainment: Students should be constantly excited about class activities.||Engagement: Serious ideas are intrinsically engaging and often require hard work before a payoff.|
Our Curricular Distinctives Summed Up In One Short List
Here is a quick overview of our core curricula distinctives in each major discipline. Keep in mind that we view knowledge as a unity with God at the center. Since God is the author of all things, all the parts of the cosmos relate to each other in a unity, including ideas. In a good education, therefore, knowledge should be integrated. That said, the major disciplines are time-honored ways for exploring, organizing, and elaborating the different facets of creation.
Rigorous Theological Instruction: Redeemer Classical students will attend daily Matins or Divine Service and study theology starting with catechism and Bible memorization through a comparative study of world religions and Christian apologetics.
Classic Literature: A rich exposure to the treasures of our literary heritage, from fairy tales, parables, and folk tales in early childhood to the highest-quality literature for young adults.
High-Expectations Math: With proper instruction, the average young person can complete calculus by the end of high school and thus leave the school ready to engage with and understand any branch of mathematics.
Discipline-Centered Science: We integrate the wonders of first-hand experience with nature and an academic study of science through biology, chemistry, and physics.
Deep, Rich History: Students will learn of the great figures of history through high-quality stories, memorize a detailed timeline of world and American history, and study primary documents.
Academic Arts Instruction: The arts are not an elective, but a core pursuit. All Redeemer students will learn fundamental elements of music and visual arts.
Exemplary Language Instruction: Explicit instruction in penmanship, both print and cursive; a thorough grounding in grammar, in native and foreign languages; and explicit instruction in composition and rhetoric.
Classical Education’s Distinctive Approaches to Academics
To compare what we offer to what a typical school, either Christian or secular, offers, here’s another handy summary chart organized by discipline:
|Conventional, Progressive Schooling||Classical, Christian Education|
|Goal||Workforce readiness||Attuning the soul to know and love the good, true, and beautiful to prepare it for a life of virtue and for eternity|
|Reading Material||Short stories and story snippets; “informational texts”; summaries of big ideas and works; contemporary stories and authors||Full works of classic literature, including poetry; original documents and sources; classic myths, fairy tales, and folk lore|
|Grammar and Writing||Emphasis on children discovering language for themselves; “creative writing” and other forms of open-ended instruction; often no cursive taught||Explicit instruction in the rules, history, and structure of language; students learn beautiful penmanship, including cursive; emphasis on phonics|
|Math||“Fuzzy math”; “exposure to mathematical concepts”; emphasis on “conceptual understanding” and process; lengthy and complex problem-solving techniques; delaying fluency in basic operations until the end of elementary school; consumer and “real-world” math; reliance on technology, calculators||Traditional math: emphasis on fluency in addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication by fourth grade, like high-achieving countries; mental math and memorized times tables; clear, early instruction on standard algorithms; sequential, orderly instruction|
|Foreign Language||Not required, and usually delayed until high school; tourist phrases and “practical application” of modern languages||Early instruction in Latin as a gateway to understanding the culture of two millennia of the West; provides an entrance to all romance languages; progresses into ability to read historical documents in original language by high school; required; explicit grammar instruction; other languages offered beginning in middle school|
|Music and Visual Arts||Seen as electives and often tacked on if offered at all; focus on free expression and little training in the craft; “music appreciation”; not important for career prep||Considered essential to the core curriculum; explicit drawing, painting, and music theory instruction; knowledge and imitation of the Great Masters as a preparation for true, informed artistry and creativity|
|Science||“Thinking like a scientist” and often focused on political causes instead of robust knowledge; little math integrated into instruction||Systematic instruction in discipline-based knowledge, integrated with the history of science and knowledge of famous scientists and inventions; In upper grades, incorporate necessary math; Emphasis on both knowledge and delight in the wonders of creation|
|Religion||Mostly anti-religion or syncretistic (blending a variety of religions)||Children memorize classic hymns and articles of the orthodox, historical Christian faith, such as the Ten Commandments, Apostle’s Creed, and oft-cited Bible verses; In upper grades, systematically study philosophy and world religions and compare against Christianity; Robust knowledge of history’s heroes of the faith, their times, and their deeds|
|History||Usually softened into “social studies”; emphasis on 20th Century history and identity politics; Ignores or elides major wars, their battles, and causes; combined with pop psychology and “studies” of neighborhoods and professions||Chronological expositions of key events and figures in world and American history; students read source documents and vivid biographies; emphasis both on developing a mental chronology of world history and enlivening that chronicle with the exciting men, women, and events of history|