Author’s note: This post begins a series that describes those things necessary for classical and Lutheran education. Many confessional Lutherans, including me, see a strong commitment to Lutheran education with a classical pedagogy as part of our identity as confessional Lutherans. Since we are at the very beginning of our move to reclaim this part of our heritage, we would do well to understand what we are reclaiming for ourselves and for the church.
About this time last year, I knew that I was headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and that my congregation had a school. Shortly after I arrived, I got a crash course on classical and Lutheran education — just enough to prepare me to teach theology for a year. Now, nearly eleven months after I arrived, I am in the process of writing curriculum for theology and assisting our principal in improving our curriculum across the board. To say I arrived knowing nothing would likely be an understatement, but one thing I’ve learned so far over and over is that classical education must begin with the classical educator.
It sounds simplistic, but consider the analog of the Lutheran Confessions. The Confessions may well be the true exposition of Holy Scripture, but if no one is actually confessing them then they are completely impotent and meaningless. Likewise, the US Constitution doesn’t enforce or defend itself; it requires a government composed of servants willing to enforce and defend it. The classical approach to education works in much the same way.
Classical education is a highly ideological endeavor. It requires that everyone involved be committed to this approach and be educated enough to understand whether a particular pedagogy, curriculum, or worldview works well within this approach or not. It requires that the educator be quite intentional about this ideology and constantly reviewing himself against those high standards.
On February 3, the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education (CCLE) published “Marks of a Classical and Lutheran Educator.” This set of standards gives Lutheran classical schools clear goals to develop current teachers and evaluate future candidates . The aforementioned document gives the list of standards in full, but here are a few of the more important ones:
1. The educator is a committed servant of the Word who lives, confesses, and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ in accord with the inspired sacred Scriptures and the confessional writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He exhibits an understanding of Christian Vocation, Baptism, Catechesis, Christology, Law and Gospel, Christian Liberty, and the Two Kingdoms allowing them to shape his thinking and practice.
2. The educator demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to a classical approach to curriculum and instruction within a confessional, Lutheran framework.
3. The educator demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to the effective administration of his responsibilities.
Take the time to read the whole thing, and when you do make sure to note well how a confessionally Lutheran worldview is central to the success of a classical and Lutheran educator.