Educating for All of Life

Today’s blog was guest written by CPLS Academic Dean and Rhetoric School Mathematics Faculty, James Seidel.

Unqualified amateurs. The words drip with dismissal. Yet that is exactly what I in my nineteen years of teaching have sought in to cultivate: unqualified amateurs. While I have had many students go on to professional careers in engineering, science, accounting, or mathematics, I still consider one goal of my classes to be the creation of unqualified amateurs. 

That is not to say that professionalism is unimportant. It is critical that students from CPLS perform their vocation to the highest standards. However, throughout their lives, graduates will spend significant time filling roles outside of their jobs. In those other areas, they will be unqualified amateurs, having to perform with excellence in areas for which they lack official credentials. 

They will be amateur doctors when trying to decide how to care for a sick child. They will be amateur carpenters, electricians, or plumbers while trying to fix their houses. They’ll be amateur mechanics trying to keep their cars running. They’ll be amateur politicians in deciding what candidates and policies to support at the ballot box. They’ll be amateur mathematicians as they figure out how much to manage personal finances. They’ll be amateur philosophers in trying to determine what the good life is. They’ll be amateur theologians as they seek to know God better.  

In all these areas and more, CPLS students will need the general knowledge and tools of learning found in a classical, Christian education. With this broad base of knowledge and the tools necessary to continue learning, students will serve with excellence in many amateur roles as they strive to live a Christ-honoring life. 

In contrast to classical, Christian education, modern secular education seeks to instill only employable skills. Anything that does not relate to a job eventually goes by the wayside. We see this as schools cut fine arts programs and quickly sort students into tracks based on their anticipated employment. To the pragmatic mind of secular education, there is no reason to have an author who can do mathematics or an engineer who can write poetry.  

However, here at Cair Paravel, that is precisely what we want. We want author-engineers, musician-mechanics, and theologian-parents. We aim to have alumni who have the tools for learning and the knowledge sufficient to be generalists who live well in all areas of life. We want this precisely because we know that students will be amateurs more often than professionals in their lives. Only when properly educated with a broad knowledge base and with the tools necessary to continue learning will our graduates be the quality unqualified amateurs that God has called them to be.