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Standardized tests vs. the tradition

The Christian classical educator does not determine his success by measurable academic or developmental outcomes, because he comes at it from a different angle. Those are trivial and inevitable compared to what really matters.

Instead, the Christian classical educator assesses his success by the simple objective of whether he has succeeded in handing on the tradition to the student. Has the student received it into his soul and is he now able to pass it on to the next generation.

The difference is that the Christian classical educator embraces both faith and ignorance, while the conventional educator fears both.

The Christian classical educator has faith in the tradition as embodied in great works of art and books and experiences. The conventional educator does not trust the tradition. He thinks it is fascist, sexist, oppressive, etc. Of course, that is because he hasn’t had it handed to him.

The Christian classical educator embraces his ignorance too. He recognizes perfectly well that he can know almost nothing about what the tradition is doing right here and now in the child. He can certainly measure whether a child is developing in a healthy manner, but that is more easily done by particular observation of a particular child in a human relationship. He recognizes the danger that measurement will distract from what really matters.

Ironically, of course, by tending to the health of the child’s soul and body, the Christian classical educator produces a child who scores higher on the standardized tests. Which leads the school to celebrate these scores more than they merit, thus distracting the activities of the school from the tradition and gradually converting the Christian classical school into a hollow shell.

Unless it is led by men and women of clarity and courage.

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