Now we ought not to be confused. There is a healthy naval-gazing which should take place in each of our lives; I am perhaps the first to not miss the opportunity to evaluate. This is simply the fruit of being human. We ought to have a standard and consider how far from that standard we fall. And there are times—in the life of an individual, in the life of a corporation or school, or in the history of a nation—when discernment, critique, and careful consideration and planning ought to be turned up a bit. But there is also the possibility of too much naval gazing, too much critique, too much self-examination. After all, a man who looks too much at himself has lost sight of what really matters.
Hearing this brief conversation at the coffee shop reminded me that great education is an exercise of self-forgetfulness. And classical Christian education is just as prone to over-examination as any other kind of education. As I mentioned, I suspect this propensity to self-evaluate is the fruit of being human, of holding ourselves to a standard. But the propensity to over-evaluate, to consistently be considering “how classical we are” is a mark of immaturity. For if we are classical enough, we wouldn’t worry about how classical we are. We would have our eyes fixed upon great things, which, as it turns out, is what classical Christian education is all about. Lewis once said, “Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best--if you like, it 'works' best--when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.” (Lewis, Letters to Malcolm)
We—in our person, in our schools, in our churches, in our families, and in our nation—are not familiar enough with classical Christian education, with great education, and so we have to think a lot about it. We have to have more conferences; we need more publishers; we need more journals; we need more institutions having the hard conversations and more families making the hard decision to do what’s right. At this point we are more self-aware than ever. But there will come a time when that will all flatten, when our gaze turns upward. This is, at least, what I hope to see in my lifetime for myself and for Sequitur, that we would not be concerned with “how classical we are” but with those objects of truth, goodness, and beauty to which the classical Christian principles and methods attend. Chief among those is our Triune God.
And so we can conclude that the person, school, or movement which is consistently trying to determine the degree of its classicity is not a person, school, or movement which has yet become classical. It is still learning to dance.