There has never been a better time to start a classical education initiative in Kitchener, Waterloo. Why is now the right time? Let me suggest four reasons. First, “classical education” has been rediscovered by growing numbers of educators and parents over the last few decades, and it has reached the point where it is now seen as a viable, nearly-mainstream alternative to “progressive education.” The way has been paved by the pioneers, as is evidenced by the wealth of published resources and curriculum guides. We can benefit from their work, and this will make startup easier.
Second, even though it is a major population center, Kitchener-Waterloo does not have a classical school yet. Parents who are looking for a classical education for their children do not have any options other than to homeschool. The private schools that do exist generally subscribe to the same educational approach as the public system, with some exceptions (e.g. Montessori). But for most, the approach has been one of balancing and filtering the content, but of keeping the format similar. In contrast, a classical education offers a time-tested alternative, and we believe there is demand in K-W for just such a school.
Third, more Christians of all denominations are realizing that, being “in the world but not of the world” does not mean we need to embrace and actively inculcate the philosophies of this world into our children. Now don’t misunderstand the point – classical education does not shelter youth from provocative and challenging thought. In fact, the study of the great ideas is a core subject. The difference is that classical education presents these ideas within their historical and social context, whereas progressive education pushes one ideology and one religion without presenting the contemporary or modern critiques. But take note! This happens in both the public system and in the majority of private schools; private schools have just replaced rationalism and humanism with Christianity or other philosophies. The bottom line is that schools today have simply withdrawn from the discussion about the great ideas. They do not expose their students to thought, but rather, dogma. Parents who enroll their children in the public system have a high likelihood of seeing their children adopt the doctrinal underpinnings of today’s society as their own. Some will see this as a positive, and others will not. Every parent should realize the risk they take by allowing their children to be formed within a dogmatic secular environment, without a chance to learn the origin and context of the ideas they are taught, and without being given the tools to evaluate ideas critically. (So is there a conflict then if we teach using a classical approach but conduct ourselves within a Christian and Lutheran faith context? Consider that question as a homework assignment.)
Fourth, there are several families who are now ready to begin with a classical education cooperative, who have children of early-school age, and who can commit the time to make it work. We believe this work is important and we will pursue this path, inviting anyone who shares our passion for classical education to join us!
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