An education based in the core disciplines and humanities
Our belief in a loving, gracious God who became incarnate and atoned for the sins of the world by His sacrificial death as our substitute for sin seems to be a distant matter from the academic disciplines and subject areas. However, at Peace Lutheran Academy, we pursue “core disciplines” like reading, writing, mathematics, we investigate areas of science, and we study “humanities” like, geography, history, literature, music and art because our faith provides the grounding and the freedom for wonder, imagination and discovery of the world.
To be able to think is a human aptitude, but to think well is a skill which begins in the training of the mind. The training begins with the “core disciplines,” or “the three R’s” of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. These basic skills allow the student to begin to learn how to think. They allow a way for information (knowledge) to be received so that it can be used and processed and communicated. In the case of reading, we begin with letters and their sounds (phonics). Then, we move to how these sounds form words, and words into sentences (grammar) and ultimately, into paragraphs and stories (literature and rhetoric). However, without instruction and repetition in the foundational skills which train the mind, the student has more difficulty succeeding in higher level thinking. Similarly, with arithmetic, the student must practice and drill addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts until fluent in order to begin to understand higher mathematics and its expression in biology, chemistry, and physics. (Science, with its method of observation and inquiry, is considered a subset of mathematics, not an area of the humanities.)
Having the fundamental core disciplines, the student may then engage in subject areas that are concerned with man and his culture: what we do, where we live, and how we live. These “humanities” include philosophy and religion, history and geography, literature, music and art. So why study the humanities? Simply put, it’s because that’s who we are. People are important, and to gain knowledge about people, we study everything about them: their past, their stories, and their art. By doing so, we are able to understand ourselves: our lives, our stories, and our culture. However, mankind cannot long sustain the pursuit of knowledge without a foundation for truth which is rooted in faith.
Since we believe that the world has been created by God and redeemed by Christ, man can touch it and handle it. Man can study it and wonder about it. We can truly learn all there is to know about it as the creation of our Creator. As the work of the Creator who is the Word, Truth, and Reason, we approach study with a tenacious yearning for truthfulness. We do not abandon knowledge and learning, thinking that it is irrelevant to the study of the Word and Scripture. On the contrary, we diligently apply ourselves to subject areas so that we may better understand, but we are always governed by the love of Christ.
We create and work as men and women made in the image of God, and then give the fruits of labor as cultural gifts to our neighbor in love. If the area is mathematics, then as discoverers of calculus; if science, then as honest researchers; if language, then as poets and philosophers; if music and art, then as composers and designers.
Belief in truth provides the foundation, motivation, and purpose for the study of academic disciplines and the humanities. Faith does not constrict our study, but it constrains us to think deeply and to wonder about the God who was so moved by love to redeem and to create.