classical education


1.  God’s Word is Taught

The place to start is at the beginning with the first nation, the first educational system.  When deciding your children's education, it only makes sense to ask the One who invented education.

"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul .... And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up." 
(Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

"I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.  Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt...I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth."
  Martin Luther 

Cornerstone Christian School offers a clear biblical mandate to saturate our children's minds with the Word of God.  It is a difficult task under any circumstances, but virtually impossible in a public school setting.  Once inside those doors, children spend 30 to 40 hours a week and are told that God, if He exists at all, is no longer relevant.  No matter how spiritually grounded your child may be, the repetition of such destructive ideas cannot help but have an adverse effect.

Christian schools offer a refreshing biblical alternative.  Not only is the Bible taught for what it is, the inspired Word of God, but it forms the foundation of all other subjects.  Math, social studies, biology, and all academic roads lead to God in whom all knowledge has its origin.
It is a sad but true irony: public schools, the self-proclaimed shapers of the human mind, have chosen to ignore the God who created the human mind.  To their chagrin, they have robbed themselves of their most valuable "textbook," and the only available source of absolute truth.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
(Proverbs 9:10) 

As students pursue the knowledge of math, biology and music in a Christian setting, they are chasing after the knowledge of God.  Moreover, the by-products of such an endeavor - wisdom and understanding - are the God-given rewards for which every good student strives. 

"The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality.  It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs.  This is atheism." Gordon H. Clark

God expects you, as a Christian parent, to plant and nurture His Word in the hearts and minds of your children.  This is best accomplished in settings where home, church and school all send the same message, teaching God's truth with clarity, conviction and consistency.  In addition, while the benefits of such a commitment are often realized much later, here is one you will notice in relatively short order.  An education that uses God's Word as its foundational text does more than produce spiritually mature Christians.  It makes them wiser and more knowledgeable.  It forces them to be better thinkers.  Isn't that the goal of education in the first place?

If you are like most Christian parents, you taught your children about God since the day they were born.  You have taken them to church, read them Bible stories, sung "Jesus Loves Me."  Imagine their shock and dismay when they are thrust into an environment in which God is hated or ignored, or both.

Even the best public schools are prohibited by law from reinforcing the values you teach at home.  They either compete against them or disregard them altogether.  Because you care about the mental and spiritual development of your children, you may spend countless hours trying to bridge the philosophical gap between Christianity and humanism, a gap that would never have existed had they attended Christian school.  

"To commit our children to the care of irreligious persons is to commit lambs to the superintendency of wolves." Timothy Dwight

“A California charter school embroiled in controversy about a lesson to kindergartners on transgenderism is not backing down. On Monday, the Sacramento-area school board rejected a proposal by parents to allow children to opt out of lessons on gender identity.
The proposal came after a kindergarten teacher at Rocklin Academy Gateway in June reintroduced a boy in the class as a transgender girl without parental notification.”
(“World” 2017)

By entrusting your children to educators who share your values, you will have more time for ball games and bike rides and meaningful conversations.  Instead of debriefing your children, you will be getting to know them.

With thousands of students roaming their halls and taxpayer dollars funding their bankrolls, public schools can only go so far in the area of discipline.  The result?  More frequent occurrences of theft and physical violence, not to mention course profanity, open rebellion in the classroom, and the redefining of who we are and of life itself.

Simply put, Christian schools are a safer place for your children to receive an education.  While not devoid of problems, even severe ones like drug and alcohol use, they are far less likely to occur, and far more likely to be met with firm and loving disciplinary action.

In addition to physical well-being, Christian schools offer a much safer emotional and spiritual environment.  Verbal insults and hazing, things that go largely overlooked in a public school setting, are less likely to be tolerated.  The politically-correct, socially-tolerant attitudes that pervade secular classrooms never see the light of day at distinctly Christian institutions.

Contrary to popular opinion, students at Christian schools (especially classical Christian schools) consistently outperform their public school counterparts. Their standardized test scores are way above the national average, and they are better prepared for college, university or the work place upon graduation. Even in the areas of math and reading, subjects that are "less spiritual" in content, students at Christian schools have proven their superiority.

"A truly Christian education is possible only when Christian education underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school.  True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life - those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school." J. Gresham Machen

The sad truth is, despite their claims of excellence, our nation's public schools are far less academically rigorous than they once were.  Only 67 percent of all public school students entering ninth grade graduate with a regular diploma four years later. The United States competency in math and science lags behind a host of other countries.  Despite the vast amounts of government money being funneled to public education, our SAT scores continue to slip.

(Please click here to view Classical Christian verses national SAT/ACT/PSAT scores)

Christian schools are far from an academic liability.  In fact, in the aftermath of 2002's "No Child Left Behind" Act, college recruiters are more likely to view public school transcripts with a skeptical eye.  The best colleges are likely to pay your children more attention, not less, if they attend a Christian school.

(Please click here to see Cornerstone’s standardized test scores) 

 “We’ve turned our colleges into high schools.  After the babysitting of high school, we asked colleges to give students the education they should have gotten.  This is disastrous for colleges.  I can’t teach kids physics, biology, and the history of the Roman Empire if I have to teach them the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’.” John Agresto, St. John’s College

Part of the reason why Christian students perform so well in the classroom is that they have a higher percentage of teachers who genuinely care about them.  Most of these dedicated men and women sacrifice greater monetary rewards to serve where they can do the most intrinsic good.

In addition to the passion they feel for their students, the vast majority of Christian educators love God with equal intensity.  Unlike some of their well-meaning public school colleagues, they are not prohibited by the United States government from making overt claims to that effect.

Teachers are a school's heartbeat.  Its pulse.  They are also among the most influential role models in students' lives.  While you can certainly find Christian educators at a public school, the best of all academic worlds exists when everyone - the school board, the principal, the teachers and the parents - is operating under the same educational paradigm.

In addition to having a higher percentage of caring teachers, Christian schools can almost always offer more individual attention than public schools, many of which are overcrowded and hopelessly understaffed.

"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"
(Proverbs 27:17).

Even in cases where the ratio is virtually identical, class size is not.  Christian school classes generally have fewer students.  They are smaller more intimate gatherings that encourage students to be participants rather than spectators.  Students learn how to think quickly, and gain valuable experience sharing their thoughts and opinions in a public forum.

Because Christian school students perform at a higher level in the classroom than their public school counterparts, it only makes sense that their options upon graduation are more abundant.  Therefore, they are more likely to be better prepared to handle the rigors of higher education.  They have also received the spiritual foundation they need to excel in areas of ministry, whether they are career or volunteer-oriented.

In addition to these practical advantages, there is at least one intangible benefit.  Students who have been grounded in the truth of God's Word day after day during their formative years, both at school and at home, are better equipped to handle discrepant ideas upon graduation.  Whether in a secular university or in the workplace, young adults with a solid biblical foundation are far less likely to fall victim to the subtle lies of our postmodern culture. 

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."
(2 Timothy 3:16)

However, the question remains; how do you define success?  Does success equal an Ivy League education for your child, a certain salary level, or even a prestigious title?  Then again, how does God measure success?  A healthy marriage?  An understanding of biblical truth?  These are important issues about which to pray. 

If only the Bible had told us that good company improves bad morals, many of us would have a welcome reprieve.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true.  Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33) the Apostle Paul tells us, and we can assume he was writing to a predominantly adult audience.  You can imagine what he might say to a group of impressionable children and young teens.  

"Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Make no mistake: your kids will be exposed to bad company no matter where they go to school.  Sometimes they may even be the bad company.  In a Christian environment, they will be much less likely to find themselves surrounded by destructive influences, and far more likely to find positive ones.

One final reason to consider Christian schools can be found by taking an even closer look at the alternative.  If you study the origin and history of modern government-sponsored education, you will find some alarming facts.  Its founders were atheists whose hatred of Christianity is a matter of public record.  Its current agenda, the propagation of humanistic ideals that render God irrelevant or non-existent, can be easily spotted in its curriculum.  

"The United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of Atheism which the world has ever seen." A. A. Hodge
“The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people.” (A Nation at Risk) 

“Currently, literally millions of American high school students are not receiving adequate preparation for college level work.  Not only do many of these students lack reading and math skills needed to succeed in college, they have not learned the habits of self-discipline or study techniques that enable college students to do well.” (Paul Shore, Assistant Professor of Education and American Studies)

None of this is meant to be a criticism of parents who place their children in public schools.  Nor is it an indictment against well-meaning public school educators.  However, the fact remains that public schools are not allowed to give your children the educational experience the Bible demands.  Regardless of what you may think about Christian schools, we encourage you to seek God's thoughts on the matter before choosing an academic home for your children. 

At Cornerstone Christian School, you do not have to compromise; you can have both a solid Christian worldview and a rigorous college preparatory education. 

Call  907.927.9106 today to schedule a tour or to speak with the Headmaster, Steve Marshall

The Art of Thinking (the Trivium)

Cornerstone Christian School employs a centuries-old pedagogy of learning known as the Trivium (Latin for “three paths”). This approach teaches in accord with the students’ natural stages of development with the intent of acquiring wisdom. Thus, students are not merely taught ‘subjects’ but are equipped with the tools of learning: the ability to listen, to think for themselves, to discern, to argue, to defend, and ultimately, to articulate. The challenging academic program at CCS draws from the rich heritage of the Western liberal arts tradition. The study of foreign languages, both classical and modern, provides discipline, awareness of the grammar and derivation of English and its vocabulary, and a greater appreciation of other cultures. History is taught chronologically using primary source documents as much as possible. A traditional approach to math and science is enhanced with hands-on exercises and laboratory experiments. Cornerstone Christian School also highly values the fine arts as a picture of man’s historical context and as expressions of his God-given creative gifts.

This time-tested pedagogy consists of the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric stages (although we also include a pre-K level at CCS), each building upon its predecessor in a sequential manner. Basic factual content and rules—the “grammar”—of any given subject must first be mastered; then an understanding of how to apply the facts—the “logic”—must be discerned; and finally, the ability to synthesize the foregoing into an articulate argument—the “rhetoric”—must be developed. The Biblical equivalent to this progression is found in the admonition to pursue knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  

Although the you can learn more detail about each of the grade levels here, as a brief overview:

  • Grammar: the curricular emphasis during the grammar school years is on learning basic facts and figures during the time when children love to memorize (and when they are best at doing so). This is achieved most effectively through the use of jingles, chants and songs.

  • Logic: The subsequent emphasis during the ‘middle school’ years on logic and analysis trains students to think critically and deeply about subjects, both academic and otherwise. This emphasis corresponds with the middle-school student’s bent toward exploration, questioning, and a desire for deeper understanding.

  • Rhetoric: Finally, the emphasis during the ‘high school’ years shifts toward honing rhetorical skills, including writing. This shift prepares students to write college-level theses, utilizing their grasp of proper grammar as well their ability to think logically and critically. 

The structure of the Trivium recognizes that though there is much overlap, an ideal time and place exists for each part of learning: memorization, argumentation, and self-expression. Upon graduation, the student can clearly articulate what they know in such a manner as to be both authoritative and persuasive; they have a command of both the spoken and written word.

A Christian Environment

Cornerstone Christian School seeks to integrate faith and learning so that our students may graduate with a stronger, deeper, and vibrant faith, ready to glorify God in service to mankind.

As a Christ-centered school, Cornerstone embraces the Bible as the final authority for life and teaching. Cornerstone values Christian character and the communication of life principles and values both through integrated teaching and through the godly example of staff members who model Christianity through their lives and demeanor. Education is not indoctrination, but the equipping of students to love God with all of their minds (Matthew 22:37), to ask probing questions, and to explore boldly the various aspects of knowledge from the conviction that all truth is in essence God’s truth. Students are expected to adhere to a Student Honor Code, show respect and kindness to others and model excellent character for the younger students.

Cornerstone maintains a low student-teacher ratio and is committed to nurturing a healthy small student population which will encourage strong relationships and community. No less important than community is the high value Cornerstone places on honesty and integrity. In all of this, the atmosphere at Cornerstone is one of ‘firmness with freedom’ and is a vibrant community of learners.

It is our desire at Cornerstone to make a fine classical and Christian education accessible to any student who would benefit most from our challenging and exciting approach to learning. Thus, we welcome applicants from various levels of academic achievement and from all economic, racial,and ethnic backgrounds. We offer an excellent, elite education without elitism.

Cornerstone Christian School is a ministry of Cornerstone Christian Center who provides support for the school and encourages the school board to govern autonomously. In our Statement of Faith, we uphold the most basic tenets of historical, orthodox, Christianity and strive to encourage an atmosphere of unity in Jesus Christ which emphasizes our common convictions and is respectful of our diversity.

Further Reading

  • Introduction to Classical Education:  A Parents Guide (Free E-book).  Comments from Headmaster Marshall:  "As the headmaster of a classical school, I often speak with parents who are examining our school, who are both interested in and puzzled about classical education. “How does the classical approach differ from what is offered in public schools?” “Are there any other schools doing what you are doing?” “How do your students perform on standardized tests?” After seven years, the questions are predictable, but wholly justified. Unfortunately for me, even my answers are now predictable, which is one reason I am writing you. If you will read this before you talk to me (or someone like me) you can spare both of us my stock replies. Secondly, if I put my answers down in writing, I am bound to say something new."

  • A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille

  • The Case for Classical Christian Education  by Douglas Wilson

Association of Classical Christian Schools

Cornerstone Christian School is proud to be a member of the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) and part of an eduction tradition so steeped in history and growing across the country today. 

ACCS is organized for the mission of promoting, establishing, and equipping member schools committed to a classical approach to education in the light of a Christian worldview grounded in the Old and New Testament Scriptures, commonly known as the Bible. This mission shall be accomplished through national and regional conferences, publication and distribution of books, bulletins and newsletters, consulting services, accreditation, testing, and any other necessary, proper, and lawful means.

To learn more about ACCS please click here.