The purpose of education, recent reforms in public education, falling asleep in class, and punk rock were all topics of inquiry when Trinity Academy leaders presented at a recent event on education at Imago Dei Community in Portland. Dr. Joannah Clark shared about her humorous and ordinary experience of public high school while Dr. Francie Longshore explored popular views on the purpose of education and presented the basic aims of a classical education. Eric Shreves shared his personal testimony of being a young punk rocker who was transformed by a rich Christian culture that celebrated the joy of learning.
Many of the founders of Trinity Academy attended public schools growing up and were amazed when they encountered the rich culture and high standards of a Trinity education in the family of Trinity Schools. Dr. Clark commented that when she first started teaching at a Trinity School near Washington, D.C., she was surprised at how free students were to enjoy learning. Her experience of school growing up was centered around the social pressures of fitting in. While there were a handful of heroic teachers that made a difference, the youth culture was a powerful force that emphasized socialization and stifled the joy of learning.
Dr. Longshore presented a model of popular contemporary education which views that the purpose of education primarily to prepare students for economic success. Much like the early "industrial" model of viewing education as job training, many recent models measure education by its economic goals. At Trinity we agree that a good education should provide a young man or women with the opportunity to study many disciplines and the chance to discover a vocation which will certainly have future economic implications. However, the human person is more than just a money maker, rather a complex mixture of friend, artist, thinker, problem solver, lover, parent/child, learner, athlete, and leader. Ironically, the more humane a person is the more economic flourishing is possible. The marketplace is hungry for young people who are resilient and able to learn so they can adapt to a rapidly changing world. Employers appreciate young men and women who are well formed in the arts of meaningful communication, public speaking, advanced math and science, creative initiative, and are able to connect with and lead a diverse team to understand and solve a problem. The purpose of a good education is a formation of free and discerning young men and women who are well prepared to build God's Kingdom with the wise use of their gifts and talents.
There were some excellent questions from the audience on topics including: the affordability of private education, diversity, connecting with the local community, and frustrations with the popular youth culture that governs many of our schools. We will touch on many of these topics in prospective postings on this blog.