Education at Bilney Classical Christian School is not just government curricula with prayers and assemblies tacked on. Indeed, we know there is no such thing as neutrality in education. Every fact, every truth is understood in the light of a certain worldview, Biblical or secular. It is no use to teach a secular worldview with an additional Bible class in the timetable.
C.S. Lewis famously said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” To examine and learn about the world around us, we must see in the light of the sun, rather than blackening out the beams by which we can see. This means that we aim to teach history, art, music, mathematics, etc., in the light of God’s existence and His revelation of His son, Jesus Christ. Because the Scriptures occupy a crucial role in teaching us about this revelation, they must also occupy a critical role in Christian education.
What we mean by this is that Scripture provides us with the framework through which we can understand and interpret these subjects. For example, ‘secular’ mathematics simply teaches facts, but a Biblical framework highlights that the order and laws we see and discover in mathematics are a reflection of the God of order who created these laws.
As a result of this Christ-centred education, subjects are not compartmentalised and education is not fragmented. Instead, God and His Word provides a unified education, where all subjects are seen as integrated and interrelated.
But it is not the curriculum alone that must be Christ-centred, for education is a relational practice of passing information from one person to another. Therefore, consistency between what is taught and practised by those teaching is vital. If the student sees a conflict between the Christ-centred teaching and the man-centred living of the teacher, what does this communicate to the student?
When hypocrisy is tolerated amongst the educators, it teaches the children to separate between word and deed. As educators, any hypocrisy on our part places a stumbling block before the students and the authority of what is being taught is undermined. Since the education being taught communicates a Christian worldview, so too must the educators must live in light of the same worldview.
It is through the examples of the teachers that children will learn how to apply what is taught in the classroom. Our desire is that each student will be born again and filled with the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, without whom no amount of instruction and guidance from the teachers will be effective. We recognise that our responsibility is to plant and water the seed, but that the growth is the work of God.
We do not seek to replace God’s work in one’s life by the efforts of the school, and so it is not the role of education to perfect the student. The result of this philosophy of education would be legalism. Instead, we desire for the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to shape the moral atmosphere of the school, and rely on the work of God to transform the student.
What is this Gospel? It is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures and that he rose again on the third day, and if that person responds to this message with repentance and belief, then God will give that person eternal life. This is what is at the heart of everything we seek to teach at Bilney Classical Christian School.
It is our goal to introduce every child who does not know the Father into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. For those children who do know the Lord, our goal is to disciple them in their faith and equip them for life of mission ahead. In such a relationship with the Living God, the education received will be fully understood.
We seek to provide a Classical education in both form and content. By Classical, we mean an education that cultivates wisdom and virtue through meditating on what is true, good and beautiful. This is achieved in several ways.
1. Grammar, logic and rhetoric
The structure of our curriculum emphasises the stages of grammar logic and rhetoric in all subjects. In each subject, grammar is not limited to language studies alone, but refers to the fundamental rules of each subject. The student is required to learn these fundamentals so as to gain a better grasp of each subject.
Logic refers to the ordered relationship of the particulars within each subject. Having learnt the fundamentals, the student will then be taught how these particulars relate to one another, thus learning how to think rather than simply memorising fragmented information.
Finally, through rhetoric, students are taught how to eloquently express what they have learned. Argumentation and defence of a thesis is necessary so as to not merely know the facts, but to be able to clearly articulate what the students know.
2. To inspire a love of learning
We all remember the subjects we loved at school. The likelihood is that the teacher had a real love of their subject which they imparted to us, whereas those subjects we disliked were likely taught by unenthusiastic teachers.
If the teacher is not excited by the knowledge they have, then why should the student be? An uninspiring teacher will develop a mentality in the student to get by by doing the bare minimum. We see this mentality in many schools, where students coast by and teachers are content with the minimal standard.
On the other hand, a teacher who is excited by the subject and information that they are passing on will be sensitive to those students who are not inspired by the subject. A smaller classroom gives more opportunities for the teacher to encourage individual students in the subject.
The goal is to inspire a love of learning across the subjects. If we are successful in this, then the student will go on to be a life-long learner. We seek to provide the tools of learning and instil the desire to wield them.