Chesterton Academy: An Inspiring Example of Holistic Education

7:55 PM James 1 Comments

As a teacher of junior and senior high school students, I get an intimate look into the lives of teenagers on a daily basis.  One thing that concerns me is teenagers' general inability to connect particular things they've learned in one subject with things they've learned in another subject.  They have difficulty unifying and integrating concepts into a holistic framework.  This is not their fault, mind you.  They've never been given a holistic framework to integrate things into.  That's why I'm excited about schools like Chesterton Academy in Minnesota.  They are doing something different.  It's not just classical education.  It's holistic classical education based on the philosophy of one of my favorite authors - G.K. Chesterton.

Our culture does not think holistically.  We think in fragments, quips, and sounds bytes.  As my artist friend Danny recently put it, in our culture "everything is a la carte."  We don't have the patience to contextualize and integrate - to hear an argument all the way through, or see how the parts fit into a whole.  That takes too much time, too much effort.  And perhaps this is because many of us doubt there is even a paradigmatic "whole" in which the parts can fit.

Sadly, teenagers are often victims of this kind of mindset.  Being in education, I see increasing evidence of this on a regular basis.  I observe how teenagers (and adults) are lulled into a semi-vegetative state by the flashing images on their smart phone; how their humor becomes more random, pointless, and sarcastic; and how they so quickly and easily grow impatient and bored when something requires their mental focus.  It seems our society is cultivating an ADD, "twitterized" generation whose interest does not reach past a flashy 140 characters.

I don't want to sound too negative here.  I love technology (yes, even Twitter), and the students that I have the privilege of teaching everyday are a smart bunch of kids with great hearts.  The majority of them are not as bad as my description above.  But I teach in a private Christian school - one with loving supportive families, and faculty that are taking great steps to instill holistic thinking in our students.  Public schools, too often, don't have that.  And as a consequence, the "twitterization" is usually worse there.

Yet, even for a private Christian school, I think Chesterton Academy is ahead of the curve.  Check out the video below and tell me you don't feel a little jealous of the education these kids are getting!  A quick glance at their curriculum reveals they read more philosophy, literature and, yes, Chesterton! than most college students; not to mention being required a generous dose of art, theater, logic, and debate.  For them, there is a deep connection between the arts and sciences.

Chesterton wrote, "The one thing that is never taught by any chance in the atmosphere of public schools is this: that there is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy."  Judging from this video, the students of Chesterton Academy seem very happy indeed!

*If you like this article, please consider supporting my writing by becoming a patron, and get cool rewards in return.




1 comment :

  1. Most of the systems in the schools are designed in a manner which is fundamentally aimed at transforming the children into citizens, who would naturally flow with the wave of professional responsibilities. This could forestall the talents and passions in children from being identified or pursued.

    ilchi lee education

    ReplyDelete