Twenty Nineteen is right around the corner. Back in April 2017, when we first began using the phrase “starting a school in 2019,” it felt satisfyingly inspiring yet vague—like saying, “Someday I’ll run a marathon” or “I’m thinking about climbing Mt. Everest in a few years.” We didn’t realize how quickly 2019 would become a reality. We are opening a real school in August 2019 with at least 20 real students. Thank you, to every single person reading this, for your support over the past 1.5 years. We are now at the finish line and the starting line: the finish line of the pell-mell founding process, and the starting line of what we hope to be a long legacy of virtue, joy, tenacity, and learning.
We hope to take advantage of the next few months to continue educating you about the kind of education we will offer our students. We have several events coming up this winter and spring, including another Pie & Paideia on January 25, two school visits, an open house to explain enrollment, and a benefit dinner at the end of the school year. We also want to take the time to exposit our mission statement, one line at a time. This month, we’ll start at the beginning: “Cedar Classical Academy assists parents in the education of their children.”
Let’s start with “parents.” What does God ask parents to do? We could talk anecdotally about a lot of biblical examples of good and bad parenting here—Eli’s worthless sons, the stoning of the rebellious son, the Prodigal Son, Naomi and Ruth—but our focus is the specific command we see throughout Scripture to discipline, train, and bring up our children. Ephesians 6:4 is an excellently concise description of God’s purpose for parenting: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
These ideas are closely related to the next important word in the opening phrase of our mission statement, “education.” The phrase Paul uses, “discipline and instruction,” is the translation of the Greek word paideia, sometimes translated “education,” but with richness our modern minds do not fully appreciate. In the essay “The Paideia of God,” Douglas Wilson explains what this rich Christian education entails:
Paul requires Christian fathers to provide their children with a “paideia of the Lord.” To the ancient world, the boundaries of paideia were much wider than the boundaries of what we understand as education. Far more is involved in paideia than taking the kids to church, having an occasional time of devotions in the home, or even providing the kids with a Christian curriculum. In the ancient world, the paideia was all-encompassing and involved nothing less than the enculturation of the future citizen. He was enculturated when he was instructed in the classroom, but the process was also occurring when he walked along the streets of his city to and from school.
By answering the call to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Christian parents are fostering in their children the culture of Heaven. Education means teaching humans what it means to be human, teaching sinners about their Savior, and teaching creatures about the Creation and culture they live in—”a well-ordered understanding of God, human nature, and the world,” which we will dive more deeply into in a later essay. Education means the discipline, training, and bringing up of little humans into the fullness of their imago Dei humanity.
That is what we mean by “parents,” and “education.” Now, what do we mean by “assist”?
We look at our school—which will be private, full-time, classical, and Christian—as a parental partnership. By sending your children to our school, you do not (and must not!) surrender your parental responsibility to bring them up in the paideia of the Lord and enculturate them in the Kingdom of God. Rather, Cedar Classical Academy’s whole purpose is to help parents achieve that goal. Our culture, faculty, resources, and curriculum are all geared toward assisting parents in obeying Ephesians 6:4. We want to serve you in practical ways—by finding and offering knowledge you may not have, through the division of labor among an experienced staff. We also want to serve you in ways that go deeper into the heart of paideia—by imparting a culture of joy, virtue, and self-government to your kids through men and women of excellent character, and by giving your kids a truly interdisciplinary understanding of how every subject works together to create what Arthur Holmes calls “an alluring window on God’s creation.” Everything we teach—whether we are talking about clouds, imaginary numbers, or adverbs—is an opportunity for character development and enculturation in the Kingdom of God.