Clapham welcomes Chad Smith, a pastor and Clapham parent, to the blog. He recently wrote this insightful piece which may serve to encourage us all.
Clapham School is a stirring community of which to be part. The teachers, administrators, and staff have been brought together providentially after decades (perhaps centuries) of combined experiences and preparation. Our children are the beneficiaries of the investment God has made in their lives.
I was recently reminded that one of the dangers of being part of such a rich community is taking a posture of abdication. The paideia of Clapham is so full and distinct that it could be easy for us, as parents, to consider ourselves deficient to play a major role in what our children are learning. For a variety of reasons, it is possible to develop a default mode of outsourcing responsibility regarding our children’s education. We have to work to remain engaged in the process as active participants within the community.
In a recent article entitled "Abdication for Dummies: The Best Ways to Ruin a Classical Christian Education,” by Ty Fischer, Fischer identified five ways in which we can ruin a classical Christian education by vacating our position of responsibility of education in our children’s lives or sabotaging the process.
Signs of Abdication
Environmental Fallacy. This pattern of abdication mistakenly believes education happens by finding a good environment and putting the child in it. It sees life as compartmentalized. It is in opposition to the biblical understanding of education being integrated into all the rising, walking, and bedtime parts of life (Deuteronomy 6).
Poisoning the Delegate. In sending children to school, we are delegating some of our responsibility as parents to the school, namely the teachers. This pattern of abdication refuses to receive the opinions or recommendations of teachers for their children because they do not like what the teachers have to say about their children. “In these sorts of situations the parent would rather keep a distorted view of their child than see the child with all of his problems and work diligently to fix them.”
Male Pattern Abdication. This pattern of abdication “happens when dad delegates everything in education (in the worst cases everything having to do with their child) to mom. This form of abdication is evident when dad loses touch with the problems and progress of their child academically.
Jane Austen Fallacy. This pattern of abdication happens when a child is told about the importance of school, but the parents are not learners themselves. Jane Austen was brilliant at showing people what was happening in her writing, not just telling them. It is a somewhat paradoxical statement but education is more caught than taught. A child will have an indelible drive to know and grow, not by our words, but by our deeds.
One Stop Shop Fallacy. This pattern of abdication takes place when parents substitute all other communities with the school community. The school becomes a surrogate parent, a para-church, and quasi-neighborhood. The school becomes the only sphere of life, instead of a sphere of life.
As we consider these potential dangers, let's commit as parents to continuing to be intentional in our engagement of the education offered at Clapham and not make the mistakes that could endanger the very education we are working so hard to provide.
"Abdication for Dummies: The Best Ways to Ruin a Classical Christian Education,” by Ty Fischer was published in Classis, a quarterly journal of the Association of Classical Christian Schools. You can receive this journal for free at their website.