“The student is not above his teacher; but every one when he is perfected shall be as his teacher.” Luke 6:40
Every once in a while it strikes me…I’ve been at Logos longer than any student and yet I never have and never will graduate from here! Also every once in a while, a student (usually in high school) will realize that lack in my life and bring it to my attention, with great glee. Then, should I reveal to this upstart my pathetic educational background, he or she tends to feel a whole lot better about the B- on the latest calculus test. How that knowledge affects the student’s opinion of my qualifications to administrate this school often (but not always) remains unspoken.
But this very issue of the lack of qualifications came up very often and with profound concern in the earliest days of the formation and annual conferences of the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS). It was one of the top issues in our earliest conferences, when Logos provided most, if not all, of the workshops and plenary sessions. I heard from many folks who, after getting a vision for what classical, biblically-based education could be, expressed real dismay at the seeming paradox of trying to provide what they never received.
I understood their quandary. Consider our own history: Out of the four founding board members of Logos School, only Doug Wilson had any background in classical studies; we did not all have bachelor’s degrees; my own degree (from the University of Idaho…) was a BFA (Fine Arts), with a minor in history and education; only one of us had a child older than 8; none of us had any experience serving on any kind of school board, or any classroom teaching experience, not to mention running a school; our first and only introduction to the idea of teaching the Trivium came from a short article by an English author (Dorothy Sayers) that I knew only from her mystery novels and Doug happened to recall from reading the article while in the Navy. Such, and more, characterized the ‘qualifications’ of the original, founding board of Logos School.
So, if a poorer readiness on the part of adults seeking to build an outstanding classical, Christian school can be found, I haven’t met it. Really.
With all that incredible lack of preparation in knowledge and experience, how do we answer the original question: “How do you give what you haven’t been given?” The simple answer is: by being obedient to your calling, not looking at your lack, but looking to your Lord to fill up that lack. G.K. Chesterton put it more bluntly: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”
The words of our Lord (above) used to give me considerable pause, especially in light of what we’ve attempted to do at Logos (i.e. teach students). I thought that He meant the student (or disciple) would never exceed the works, knowledge, and wisdom of his teacher. If that were really the case, then all instruction would be doomed to spiral downward in its benefit to succeeding generations. But our Lord also told His disciples that they (fishermen, zealots, tax collectors, and other ‘uneducated’ lowlifes) would do “greater” works than He did (John 14:12)! Greater than the works that Christ did? How can that be? Again, simply put, because that’s how God likes to work – Scripture is loaded with God using the most worthless people and things (even donkeys and worms) to bring glory to Himself. And by being used by the Creator, those “worthless” people become the channels of very worthwhile works God blesses.
Our job in starting or building classical, Christian schools is not to first gather the wise and experienced of this world, but rather to just obey His calling and study His Word. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe, down to my bones, that this is what He’s called me to do. I know that, even if I don’t know why He chose to do so. But that’s His concern, not mine. That is the same message I tell other folks in ACCS and other venues in this renaissance of effectively educating the next generation in the Word of God. A wonderful ‘side-effect’, if you will, of this kind of obedience and faithful adherence to our calling is that we, along with the students, grow in our understanding of God’s world and work. I date my best education beginning after I started working at Logos.
Does that mean, as we look to the future, that we only want inexperienced or clueless people to shape a school like Logos for the next generation? No. If our students truly ‘become like their teacher,’ a significant characteristic of their teachers, and founding board members, has been a trust in and a love of the Lord God and His Word. May that characterize all our students, all our children, as well. Thereby, they will do greater works than we have done.