Steps to Approving the Things That Are Excellent

Nov 12, 2013

Let us suppose that we are educating children with an eye to the kingdom of Heaven and with the hope that it might positively affect the culture we swim in. If that is so, it seems to me that we need to 

  1. Remember the fishermen
  2. Re-orient ourselves from practical or even academic knowledge to what St. Paul prayed for when he prayed for the Philippians: 

That your love may abound still more and more in knowledge* and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ...

3. Provide advanced technicolor knowledge to those who want and are ready for it.

4. Focus on cultivating the humanity of all our students

It may be that our roles are limited in these four ideas by virtue of the fact that we often teach in schools whose role is not to be church or family, but at the very least we can't teach content or in a form that will undermine the growth in discernment or tempt students away from sincerity and the excellent. 

Thus, even with that limitation embraced, we need to honor these four points. 

* the word for knowledge is "epignosei", which, as I understand it, can refer to simple recollection, but generally has a higher meaning (thus the "epi" prefix). It seems to have more to do with mental or soulish apprehension than mere recollection. I doubt that Paul simply wants them to retain information, as that would not be sufficient to aid in discernment or approval of excellent things. 

Andrew  Kern

Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern is the founder and president of The CiRCE Institute and the co-author of the book, Classical Education: the Movement Sweeping America

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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