Teaching Children to Love the Things that are Lovely

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: “Garbage in, garbage out.” This phrase, of course, suggests that as it relates to the mind, that which we fill our minds with affects the way we respond to the world around us. You may also be familiar with the similar thought found in Matthew 12:34b,

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” – Matthew 12:34b

We take this counsel seriously as a classical school. Dr. Christopher Perrin, a well-known advocate of classical Christian education has offered a simplified definition of what classical Christian education is: “Teaching children to love the things that are lovely.”

As a parent, I want my child focusing on things that are lovely. That’s what I want going “in.” So often in our culture, that which is flashy, instantly entertaining, attention-grabbing, and sensational wins the day for what takes main stage. I see them gravitating to those things as they consistently and subconsciously observe that those things which captivate the masses are the most valuable.

But I have concerns about 15-second sound bites. I have concerns that the ideas summarized within them may not be fleshed out in a way that invites constructive dialogue. I am not sure they invite dialogue at all. So often the 15-second sound bite has become one because it is flashy, entertaining, or sensational.

Can soundbites be excellent? Even virtuous? Of course. However, I don’t want that to be assumed. I want my children to have studied excellent things and virtuous things at great length in order to recognize things which are as such. Not to assume because they are reposted, retweeted, re-aired, that by their very nature, they are such.

How does one recognize excellence? By studying it. By consuming his or her mind with it. Philippians 4:8 says,

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Much in this world is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, and excellent. After all, God created it, and all of us who create within it. Our children need some time steeped in things of this character not only to recognize them, but to become like them.

There is another definition of classical Christian education, this one more focused on the outcome of the process, the “out” component of that which goes in the mind: “education that employs the seven liberal arts and the great books in order to cultivate men and women characterized by wisdom, virtue, and eloquence.”

This is the mission and purpose of classical Christian education at Abiding Savior Academy. We want to develop students who not only recognize things that are lovely, virtuous, and excellent, but who become men and women exemplifying these characteristics as well.

“Teaching children to love the things that are lovely.” Now that’s an excellent and worthy soundbite.

By Elise Knobloch,
Exec School Board Member and Academy Parent

Elise Knobloch

Elise serves on the Abiding Savior Academy School Board, teaches logic, and serves as our Communications Coordinator. She has a master’s degree in persuasive writing, a juris doctorate, and is the author of Enough: Finding Abundant Life in a World Striving for More. Her greatest teachers, however, are her husband and their four children.She is blessed to practice what she’s learning about Christ’s love daily with her family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota