Part 8 (and final), Notes on “The Liberal Arts Tradition” by Clark and Jain – “Theology and Culture”

(Link to notes on previous chapter.) (Link to book on Goodreads.)

These chapters are quite short, despite the authors saying theology is the apex of the curriculum – perhaps longer chapters are for subjects we don’t understand anymore.  We know what theology is – we don’t teach it in most of our schools anymore, but we know what it is.

For the Christian educational curriculum, theology is the science of divine revelation.

I did appreciate that they acknowledged here that much of what they’ve been saying about classical education is inherited from the (pagan) Greeks – but Christianity reorients the curriculum in important ways.

  1. Theology is a new science, a new source of data and revelation specifically acknowledged by Christians..
  2. Theology informs every other aspect of the curriculum.  Gymnastic is important because Christianity teaches us that we really are a union of mind and body.  Theology informs piety because the most important authority relationship to understand our position in is the relationship between God and man.  Theology is important to natural philosophy because it gives us concepts of creation and purpose… and so on (read the book for everything by golly!).

They end with a short chapter about culture because, if you’ve believed everything they’ve said so far, education is the transmitting of a culture, so school culture obviously matters.

Because “imitation precedes art”, the culture is as much of a teacher as the curriculum.  In addition, both the culture and the curriculum must answer to a broader question: why does the school exist at all?  What is its role or calling?

They then give various examples of the importance of culture that no one who has spent any serious time in an educational institution can disagree with… and I think I’ll leave it there.  On the whole, the book is certainly a recommended survey of the classical Christian education project.