Our core beliefs direct how we approach education.
FAITH CHRISTIAN SCHOOL IS A BIBLE BELIEVING, PRIVATE, CHRISTIAN SCHOOL IN ROANOKE, VA.
Our Core Beliefs About Education
We are a distinctly Christian, distinctly Classical school. The underlying philosophies of these two important distinctions guide our approach to education.
Faith Christian School is a Christian Classical school located in Roanoke, VA. Our core beliefs direct our approach to education.
In fact, every school has core beliefs on which its model of education is built.
For example, secular schools have a basic understanding that their students are not spiritual beings; therefore, teaching there is primarily to the (secular) mind. Ethical or moral education might be offered, but with no center in Truth.
Christian schools have a basic understanding that their students are spiritual beings; therefore, teaching in a Christian school includes the mind, heart, and soul of the child. Ethical or moral behavior is based on what pleases God and is inspired by what He has done for us that we are unable to do for ourselves. In the Christian Classical education model, the entire school community finds its power in the Gospel. Further, Christian Classical schools understand that education, when properly executed, trains the affections of students to love those things that are worth loving.
Non-Christian-based (secular) schools provide an education that is primarily informational, while Christian Classical schools are transformational. The former excludes THE primary component of who we are as Christians; the latter provides context to EVERYTHING we believe as fellow image-bearers.
The following core beliefs are the guiding principles of Faith Christian School—they convey the importance of what we believe and why!
1) All children are born with a God-given love for learning.
Spend five minutes with a preschooler and you will likely hear, “Why?” or “How?” or “What?” When engaged properly and intentionally, this innate desire to discover, investigate, question, and probe, can be nurtured, encouraged, and fed from grades Junior Kindergarten-12. An educational approach that engages the natural curiosity of a child develops students who discover that learning comes through inquiry. The result: graduates whose curiosity and love for learning are inspired and deepened.
2) Even young children evidence significant reasoning abilities.
A parent relates that his 4-year-old son recently asked while boarding a plane, “How does the pilot know where to go?” Another child asked her parents, “How does a bee sting a porcupine?” When parents are asked if their preschoolers know how to formulate an argument, after a sigh of exasperation, they answer, “Yes!” The Classical model recognizes the ability of young children to reason, and actively seeks to engage students and nurture this ability, even in the earliest grades.
3) The Socratic method of instruction is the most effective means of engaging a child’s reasoning ability and cultivating a love of learning.
Socratic teaching involves leading students by means of questioning rather than simply providing answers to be memorized and repeated. The questioning process provides a template that students learn to apply when they approach new and unknown information.
4) Classical education requires three distinct areas of study.
The Classical approach offers students the formal study of Latin, beginning in grade 4, Logic in grade 8, and Rhetoric in grade 9. Each area is critical to building the skills of understanding language, sound reasoning, and persuasive communication.
5) Because God created the universe, the subjects we study provide unending opportunities to learn more about the very nature and character of God.
God’s signature is evident in the complexity and order of science, math, and language. His sovereign plan unfolds in history (His story); art and music reflect the beauty of proportion and ratio; great literature, fables, and fairy tales give insight into the heart of man, the love of a redeemer/hero, the fight for good over evil, the consequences of poor choices and a call to transcendent principles. God reveals himself in all areas (academic subjects) of study.
6) Because God created the universe as a unified whole, we integrate subjects to portray reality more accurately.
Literature influences history, science struggles with theology, music, and art reflect and inspire change, and geography impacts the outcome of wars. The subjects we study are integrally related and must be taught in that context.
7) Our model of education is inspired through an understanding of the Classical Liberal Arts. The ancients understood the nature of learning and over 1,500 years developed a method of education built on this understanding. This method is built on the Trivium and Quadrivium.*
8) God’s nature is revealed in those things that are good, true, beautiful, and virtuous.
We believe that students’ hearts are convicted, inspired, nourished, and drawn toward God through the experience of the true, the good, and the beautiful. With careful intentionality, we expose our students to excellent music, literature, and visual art, as well as philosophical and empirical ideas. Shepherding a student toward these concepts—and these concepts toward the student—move a student’s heart toward the nature of God.
9) Faith Christian School has chosen Western tradition as the filter by which we view the world.
We believe there is a common literary and cultural body of knowledge more important than the newest fad or revision of history, and more relevant for a young person growing up in a world whose definition of a great civilization is permeated by the standards of the Western tradition.
So much of what we value, as well as our entire legal system, is born out of the Western tradition. Thus, our view of man, our understanding of government, our perspective on history, and our canon of literature are nurtured by roots firmly embedded in ancient Greek and Roman history and a biblically-based, Judeo-Christian tradition that holds Scripture as the centerpiece guiding all that we hold dear.
10) We live in a fallen world.
We believe that students are “glorious ruins” affected by the fall and subject to the effects of sin. We are not surprised when those effects dull a student’s desire to learn and suppress the appetite for the good and beautiful; neither are we surprised when a student makes mistakes or gets into trouble. We view these as opportunities to come alongside a student, partnering with parents, to discipline and train in faithful scholarship and Christian character.
11) The faculty’s own love of learning and delight in teaching inspires the atmosphere of the school.
Wonder and awe cannot be taught but they can be caught. A teacher’s love and passion for his or her subject inspire the hearts, minds, and souls of students to do the same. Discovery plays a powerful role in cultivating a love of learning. Great teachers consistently provide opportunities for students to “find” new things on their own.
12) Students must be given the responsibility to grow and mature.
A critical part of developing responsible members of our school community involves asking students to take on increasing levels of responsibility. This brings value to the student, our community, and eventually to society as a whole. A Junior Kindergarten student, given an age-appropriate task, can be as responsible as a senior. As students progress through school, they are asked and expected to take on increasing responsibilities.
13) Physical activity and training develop skills, habits, and mindsets that enhance learning, performance, and stamina.
Physical training prepares the body to meet the demands of what is required physically of the body across disciplines. This is as true for theater and singing as it is for athletic competition and rhetoric. Knowing that physical activity benefits learning, we are called to be intentional concerning opportunities for activity and movement both in and outside the classroom. Physical training develops balance, fitness, strength, discipline, persistence, agility, flexibility, endurance, and focus. As with other disciplines, physical activity can nourish our souls.
14) Competition plays a critical role to help us understand the Gospel and honor God with our efforts.
Competition provides the opportunity to test ourselves with others and ourselves. Success is in the willingness to engage, the courage to compete, win or lose, and to offer one’s very best as enough. Competition can be an appropriate means of encouraging improvement and moving toward (not necessarily arriving at) excellence. To risk our ability in any area stretches us and often exposes motives driven by selfishness and pride.
Competition gives us unique chances to reflect on where our ultimate worth is gained, whether we truly believe the Gospel that proclaims God’s love for us before we have accomplished anything, and that nothing we can do will increase or decrease His love for us. We desire that our students experience the testing (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, etc.) that competition brings as well as God’s delight in expressing His gifts in us. Competition can build courage, develop leadership and followership, expose idols, give the opportunity to learn humility and grace, and bring deep satisfaction in accomplishment through hard work.
Our goal is to move beyond the act of competition to deepen our students’ biblical understanding of its purpose, pitfalls, and rewards.
15) Imagination is a gift from God, and we actively seek to encourage it in ways that further our understanding of God.
We are designed to understand new ideas by way of familiar ideas. The most effective teacher makes connections between the known (visible) and the unknown (invisible), using the imagination as the bridge for students. Imagination is used in Scripture. For instance, Jesus offers, “I am the vine.” To understand and appreciate this metaphor, the student must imagine how Jesus is like a vine (but not really a vine) by associating the qualities of the known (i.e., the vine) with that of the unknown (i.e., Jesus). Our imaginations make connections between even the most unlikely pairs, offering the mind yet another perspective of (perhaps) a familiar idea. Imagination allows insight into what we have not experienced, to facilitate our understanding of general truth in light of a particular context.
As we accumulate these metaphors, we develop a deeper and greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the true, good, and beautiful, and moral imagination is nurtured and matured. Further, imagination is a primary road to innovation: thinking from unique perspectives, seeing things for what they could be, “imagining” different paths, fresh ways, new results, outcomes, etc. Imagination leads to creativity, a skill that develops, and we as image bearers share, as God shares, in creating.
16) Art and The Arts play a powerful role to help us to be fully human by training our affections.
Understanding what art is equips us to see things in their proper dimension. “Art” is a way of seeing the world (and God) in its most robust expressions and dimensions. Beauty, the work of the Ultimate Designer, is not relative; God’s creation reflects God’s standards for beauty. Proportion, ratio, and symmetry in nature reveal the laws of beauty and are reflected in our imitations of them: a major chord in music, the Golden Ratio in architecture, and even a yearning for harmony in our lives and in society. The distinct nature of the arts often “moves” us more than any other discipline; a painting, a musical piece, a theatrical performance, can speak to the depths of our souls. It is God’s very nature to create beautiful things, therefore, when we speak lovely words and compose beautiful songs and paintings, we as His image-bearers, become more complete persons and understand Him better.
17) A “rigorous” curriculum is defined as one that emphasizes a teacher’s ability to engage and inspire students through a high-quality curriculum.
Our curriculum parallels the core requirements of rigorous private school programs. The difference is our belief that excellent teachers and teaching methods, not the curriculum, are the most critical components to inspiring students to love learning and to learn how to think.
18) Teaching cannot occur apart from relationships.
In a profound way, true education takes place when the teacher understands that students are fellow image-bearers. Teachers do not teach mind to mind; rather, all of who teachers are engages all of who our pupils are.
Teachers work to establish relationships to best understand how to reach each student within the parameters of the school environment. The teacher-student relationship is primary and fundamental to all education and involves mentoring, coaching, instruction, and accountability. Not all teachers will be “close” to their students, but all teachers can have a relationship characterized by respect and dignity expressed in words and actions. Christ says in Luke 6:40 that when a student is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.
* Faith Christian School is indebted to Dorothy Sayers and Douglas Wilson for the understanding and clarification of the three natural learning stages of the Trivium:
- The Grammar stage provides the grammar or fundamental rules of each subject by emphasizing memorization, chants, etc.
- The Logic (Dialectic) stage leverages middle schoolers’ penchant for questioning and argumentation with formal Logic training that teaches them the order and relationships within topics.
- The Rhetoric stage focuses on the expression of ideas logically and winsomely by older students both orally and in writing.
We also firmly believe that these “stages” are occurring to some degree in all ages.