Lesson 2: David Goodwin’s Background and Journey to Classical Ed
In this video, David Goodwin shares his professional background and how he ended up leading a classical Christian school and then leading the Association of Classical and Christian Schools.
Outline of Session
- (00:55) Christopher: How did you first make contact with the renewal of classical Christian education? How did you become more involved in eventually leading?
- (02:00) David: I was frustrated at the level of Christian discussion that could be had at a youth group level. I joined the board of a classical Christian school.
- (02:52) Christopher: What did you learn once you started serving on the board?
- (03:35) David: Andrew Kern mentored me with provocative questions that got me thinking.
- (04:25) Christopher: Describe the board experience for us, what was it like?
- (07:45) Christopher: Could you cite a couple of other books that Andrew had you read that were influential?
- (07:50) David: Doug Wilson wrote an essay called The Paideia of God.
- (09:45) David: Progressives in the modern era are saying that we need to progress, but there idea of progression is toward some kind of human driven ordeal.
- (11:00) Christopher: Could you comment on how the Greek paideia finds its fulfillment in a Christian paideia (Ephesians 6:4).
- (13:15) David: Society was pursuing the ideal of the Logos. It was a concept of perfection that was thought to be pursued through language.
- (14:20) David: Parents hired pedagogues to follow their children around to “provoke them to anger” (hit them with sticks) if they acted, behaved, or thought in ways that were outside of the parents thought. Rather raise them in the paideia of the Lord.
- (17:35) David: Christians picked up and used “cultivation” because you can see what happens how a cultivated place grows up.
- (19:45) David: As a board member it was a challenge for me to understand what we were doing unless I understood what the underlying system was.
- (20:13) David: The next one I read was The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis. I had to be persuaded that there was something of value in the Medieval Age.
- (21:44) David: The whole idea that the Medievals had that there was so much spiritual depth underneath everything that we see as just materialistically concrete, I think that was a big breakthrough to me. Everything is deep and rich in meaning. If you engage a child in that level of wonder, you change their whole nature.
- (23:40) Christopher: Could you comment a little bit about what it takes to form an affective wise board that could start a school well? What needs to be present?
- (25:25) David: The spiritual depth of your board in a Christian context is central.
- (25:45) David: The board is the curator of the vision. Classical Christian education is a ministry that has a vision that is very different (from other ministries).
- (30:20) Christopher: Why is their inertia or resistance for talented boards with great diverse professional experiences, what is the challenge that keeps some of these boards from deeply learning what it takes to run a school?
- (31:30) David: Roughly 90-95% of us were educated in a progressive school system. There is no contrast. Our boards are made up of people who have gone through progressive education.
- (33:55) Christopher: What else can impede or be a blind spot for boards?
- (35:10) David: One of the biggest challenges for boards is to see clearly through all the smoke and haze (dealing with children, religion, and money).
- (37:30) Christopher: What would you say to a new board member who is coming to join a board who might be a talented professional deeply committed Christian, who is thought to be wise in the community?
- (37:50) David: You come to the board with talent and you come to the board with deficits. It is always best to know what you don’t know before you start engaging in changing things.
- (38:45) David: Don’t try to change things that are traditions in the school, read materials, get to know the headmaster, and know that as a single board member you only carry authority as a vote.
- (39:45) Christopher: What about when there is a disagreement on the board, what are board members supposed to do after that?
- (40:00) David: Was the discussion that let to that sufficiently visional?
- (42:55) David: If the whole discussion at the board level is about a pragmatic reality of time then you have missed the opportunity (community cultivation, visional communication).
- (44:42) David: You want your board to be able to have serious discussions about serious matters and dissent on things without risk of public divisions. I recommend that school boards meet in a closed setting.
- (45:15) David: A parent-elected board should never happen at classical Christian schools, unless the nomination practice is restrictive.
- (48:24) Christopher: What does it mean for a board to visionary? What is a board vision?
- (48:35) David: It starts with understanding what classical education is. Boards should start with a portrait of a graduate.
- (51:30) Christopher: What are the important factors at play in a healthy relationship between a head of school and a board? How do their roles differ? How can the relationship go awry?
- (52:15) David: Boards need to realize that your headmaster is under more pressure than any other person in the school. You are asking somebody to do a job that is impossible.
- (55:00) David: The board needs to have empathy and the head of school needs to take visional direction from the board.
- (58:30) David: Schools get in trouble when the boards run the school.
- (01:00:37) Christopher: How did you go from being a board member to a head of school?
- (01:05:45) Christopher: Can you remember a time when you started to say, “I am really enjoying this.”
- How important is it for the board of a classical Christian school to be growing in their knowledge of classical Christian education?
- Why is it sometimes difficult for a talented board to learn deeply about what it takes to run a school?
- What does it mean for a board to be visionary?