At Evangel Classical School, we share a focus with the classical Christian school movement on the liberal arts (which are largely misunderstood in their own right) and the intentional blurring of the disciplinary lines. Many modern educational attempts to “differentiate” instruction (to use the jargon) may involve two disciplines (e.g., English and social studies) approaching a common project (e.g., a report on Spain). But it usually stops there, and students’ minds are as divided as their class schedules. A common outcome is the math student who doesn’t do English or the history buff who hates the sciences. Sound familiar? In many Christian schools, attempts to integrate the Bible into the curriculum are mandatory afterthoughts to the real lesson which could do just fine with or without the obligatory biblical add-on.
But in The Case for Classical Christian Education, Douglas Wilson states the appealing alternative very concisely:
Classical Christian academies teach all subjects as an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center. (111)
That is the educational approach to a comprehensive view of Christ’s Lordship. We often compartmentalize and categorize much of life when all of life is an “integrated whole” under the umbrella of Christ’s Lordship.
Though identifying problems generally is easier than suggesting helpful solutions, we like the classical Christian alternative with its view to a complete, comprehensive education that has interest in the far corners of Christ’s domain. And that means trying to perceive all of it.
Like a raggant.
A what?! You ask? A raggant.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a an enjoyable trilogy by ND Wilson entitled 100 Cupboards. If not, we heartily recommend it to you. In the series, the main character Henry York, learns that one entire wall is his attic bedroom comprises ninety-nine cupboards (there’s one more downstairs – that’s the one hundredth) which are actually doorways to other worlds that have been plastered over and hidden from view. Henry’s adventures begin when a magical creature called a raggant relentlessly, tirelessly and successfully travels far and wide to find young Henry.
ND Wilson explains the raggant’s introduction to Henry’s family in 100 Cupboards:
It stood up on all fours, shook out gray feathered wings, and looked around the table. It was shaped almost exactly like a rhinoceros, only it was eighteen inches long and winged. It had one short, blunt horn, split and cracked at the end. It’s belly hung almost to the ground, like a basset hound’s. (278)
And this is a dignified, proud creature that takes itself way too seriously, which is completely comical and ironic given its ridiculous appearance. Beyond this, the creature is rather endearing in his determination, loyalty, and comical stoicism.
In the second book of the trilogy, Dandelion Fire, ND Wilson gives us a bit of an insight into how the raggant operates and perceives the world:
The raggant didn’t have any extra senses. He only had one, and it interfaced everything into an amazingly complicated but entirely accurate caricature of whatever worlds were within his range. (226)
That is a picture of how we want for our students to perceive Christ’s domain academically. We want their perceptions of the world to be less compartmentalized (like human senses) and more academically integrated like the blended, combined senses of the mighty raggant.
A raggant has no conception of distinct senses; he cannot help bringing his one interfacing and accurate sense to bear on his perception of life. We want that for our students, too. Whether examining a flower or Rembrandt painting or a geometric formula, we’d just as soon have them unable to separate the truth from the goodness, the beauty from the science and so on. And the classical and Christian model lends itself to that.
Thankful that someone else had come up with such a powerful example for us (thank you, ND) in the form of an endearing and novel magical creature, we couldn’t think of a better mascot for our school. ND Wilson and Random House have kindly granted us permission to use the raggant as our mascot.
And we would also recommend that you get used to shouting it and hearing it exclaimed:
Watch sophomore Kara Rothenberger explain the raggant at our Information Night on February 29, 2016.