Measuring a School
Once outside the busy daily school schedule yet while the past year is fresh in mind, our teachers meet together to assess the past year and to plan for the upcoming year. Perhaps obviously, the measuring standard we use will dictate areas of focus. So here is an opportunity for a little quiz:
What is the best way to measure a school?
(a) its students become a functional part of society
(b) its students go on to the best colleges and get the highest paying jobs
(c) its students are knowledgeable and articulate
(d) its students become better people
We need to be a school where teachers are constantly praying with and for our studentsThose who are merely aiming for students to contribute to society will be driven by pragmatic pressures and skills considered necessary for civic needs. Likewise, pursuing colleges and careers above all else represents a disguised form of selfishness in its quest for wealth. Aiming for bright and expressive students is certainly a nobler ambition, but as C. S. Lewis once said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” To be sure, these other alternatives often emerge as side benefits, but they must never displace a school’s primary purpose of producing students who become better people—followers of Christ who deny themselves and walk in his footsteps. Though frightening on account of its sheer impossibility, this measure must nevertheless drive the earnest evaluation of our educational efforts.
If our ultimate goal is producing Christ-like students, then what is the best way to go about accomplishing it?
– A school that is on its knees. Keeping in mind that this lofty goal is ultimately beyond our ability, since only God can change hearts, we need to be a school where teachers are constantly praying with and for our students.
– A school with godly teachers. Lasting impact is best fostered as teachers model genuine faith in Jesus Christ and constant repentance, all characterized by a life of selfless love and quiet humility, enriched with an infectious love for learning. After all, Jesus pointed out that “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
– A school with like-minded parents. Everything works best when the entire community is working together toward the same objectives, and the message at school closely parallels the message at home.
We seek to set forth a richly integrated feast of Bible, hymns, proverbs, parables, stories, and biographical sketches to grab the heart and point to the ideal– A school that prizes truth, goodness, and beauty. Following the pattern of the Scriptures, we seek to set forth a richly integrated feast of Bible, hymns, proverbs, parables, stories, and biographical sketches to grab the heart and point to the ideal as we study together and admire God’s creation and its order. This classical approach not only promotes the cultivation of godly virtues, but also gives us a reason to study.
Some might consider it dreaming too big … but it’s the best measure there is.
Tom Bradshaw has been serving as Cedar Tree’s headmaster since 2006. This article was first published in 2016.