Years ago my curly-headed, blue-eyed little boy toddled downstairs one morning in footed pajamas. He watched Daddy fill his briefcase and leave for work. Climbing atop the sofa to wave through the window, he turned to me and said with authority, “Daddy go to work.” He slipped back down the sofa and went about his day. My little boy could not go to work, but he could behold one who did.
Today my son stands 6’2”. Knowing what is expected, he rises each morning to eat breakfast, put on his work clothes, and leave for work. I did not know back then that my son had autism, and I did not know what the future would hold for him. I know now that the small was being formed by the great.
We need not be great to learn from greatness. From early childhood onward, we can lead all of our children to that which is greater than themselves. That is the message of Simply Classical, the curriculum and the book. Even when taught “simply,” a classical education elevates the lives of our children and ourselves.
If he cannot name the instruments of the orchestra, or if he cannot speak at all, he can attend a performance of Peter and the Wolf and listen for the voices of the animals. If he cannot solve complex mathematical problems, he can master orderly truths of arithmetic. If he cannot study the intricacies of advanced biology, we can help him appreciate the manifold wonders of insects or mammals.
This is also true for us as adults. Even the most learned among us is not fully educated in every area, nor can we be. Choose good books to read. Seek excellence in books, even if they are great children’s books. Listen to great music, even if you cannot yet identify the composer. Ponder the patterns and wonder of mathematics as you teach your children. Learn the names and characteristics of the trees in your area, even if you never master the natural sciences.
In his work, On Education, British classical scholar R. W. Livingstone explains:
Am I not to look at a picture by Velasquez or Cezanne, because I shall understand and appreciate them far less than a painter or art critic would? Are you going to postpone any acquaintance with these great things to a day when we are all sufficiently educated to understand them—a day that will never come? No, no.
By example and through the lessons we teach our children, we can pursue, admire, and be stirred by greatness together.
Most reassuringly of all, the smallest child is welcomed by the great God Himself through the only Savior for mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Captured by artist Gustav Doré, this invitation graces the cover of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child.
Let us lead our children to that which is far beyond ourselves, yet mercifully imminent every day. No need to wait. Welcome the child before you into a world of learning that is greater than himself, yet surprisingly attainable, one lesson at a time.
Originally published in the Simply Classical Journal Summer 2018 edition.