Wisdom and Eloquence: Worldview and Formation

By Christina Walker

In this series of blog posts that explore the book Wisdom and Eloquence by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans, we have discussed why Christian classical education is an effective model to educate and equip students to be culture shapers, especially after graduating from Geneva. In a previous post, we discussed how Geneva uses reliable and time-tested methods of teaching that build a foundation for wisdom and help lead to eloquent graduates.

Worldview and Formation

The word worldview is, like many words, sometimes misunderstood. As we discuss chapter three of the book, worldview means more than “holding ‘biblical’ positions” on issues that we face in our lives and culture. Quoting Littlejohn and Evans, worldview is “that inner honing device that colors everything we think, feel, and do . . . [it] is central to our sense of being and is a function of our culture and upbringing” (p. 44).

For better or worse, a child’s worldview is mostly shaped and developed by the way his or her parents live their lives, what we would call enculturation. Enculturation happens because parents, teachers, coaches, club leaders, youth group leaders, and many others influence children day to day. Purposeful and active enculturation is formation, and teachers as well as many other individuals join parents in this critical endeavor. This purposeful and active effort on the part of teachers is the “work of spiritual, cultural, and intellectual formation” (p.44). Paideia (or formal instruction) and nouthesia (modeling godly wisdom when opportunities arise) are both crucial elements as teachers at Geneva strive to help students understand that our beliefs about God, his Word, and the Christian life matter for everything we do, think, and say. These beliefs become “that inner honing device.”

There is no part of creation that lies outside of God’s control and sovereign possession. Sometimes, we don’t appreciate this truth. But the reality of God’s sovereignty is comforting.

God is the one

who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever (Psalm 146:6).

who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it (Isaiah 42:5).

And because these things are true, we can be confident:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38, 39).

When we all—parents, teachers, staff, and students—acknowledge and internalize these truths, Christ-centered formation begins to happen.

Knowing that each student is made in the image of God also helps teachers to see and value each student as one of his children, which leads to rich opportunities for discipleship as well as teaching. What a gift and responsibility to draw out and help refine the creative nature of each student and to know that each one is “worthy of respect and is deserving of the challenge to manifest his God-given talents to the Creator’s glory,” as Littlejohn and Evans beautifully put it (p. 45).

As believers, we want to take the things that we believe, especially the fundamental, foundational things, and use and apply those beliefs as we (try to!) live consistent and faithful lives aided by the Holy Spirit. A biblical worldview can be very helpful, but we must constantly bring our worldview humbly before Christ and strive to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We do well to remember that “the line between good and evil more often runs through things, ideas, and people (including ourselves) instead of running between them” (p. 50). We must remain humble, knowing and acknowledging that even our best efforts are affected by the Fall and the brokenness of the world and our own selves. Reading and praying, discussing and being in community help us to be receptive and open as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us.

Along with day-to-day enculturation and formation, Geneva also offers formal classes for upper school students to fine tune, discuss, and develop a cohesive and thoughtful worldview. Eleventh graders take Worldview Analysis, which gives students an opportunity to discern how various worldviews show up in their lives through media and how other worldviews and faiths compare and contrast with Christianity. In twelfth grade, students “revisit biblical themes and explore how Christianity need not take a back seat in the marketplace of ideas.” These classes help students realize that all ideas “have consequences for how we live our lives and how we understand human flourishing; students are also able to articulate a statement of faith.”

Wisdom and Eloquence: Integration and Inspiration

By Christina Walker

It’s been a minute since we visited Wisdom and Eloquence, but now we’re going to start the series back up.

From its beginning, The Geneva School has implemented the classical model of education, which focuses on the mastery of the liberal arts during the course of a student’s K4–12th grade Geneva career. During the medieval period, the liberal arts consisted of seven disciplines—grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music—which were taught and learned as interconnected rather than isolated or separate disciplines. For the better part of the last 2,500 years, great thinkers have understood that the different arts are interrelated and that a keen grasp of this concept will help students as they study and learn (i.e., it makes learning easier).

If you have read about classical education, you have probably heard the words trivium and quadrivium. Historically speaking, the trivium is made up of the three language arts (the subjects of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric), and the quadrivium is made up of the mathematical arts (the subjects of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). There is great beauty in the meaning of the words trivium and quadrivium—the three-way crossroad and the four-way crossroad. Hugo of St. Victor, a twelfth-century ecclesiastical scholar, wrote about the seven liberal arts, calling them “‘the best tools, the fittest entrance through which the way to philosophic truth is opened to our intellect. Hence the names trivium and quadrivium, because here the robust mind progresses as if upon roads or paths to the secrets of wisdom.’” (from Didascalicum, quoted in Wisdom and Eloquence, p. 31)

Although minor changes have occurred over time, the fundamental paradigm has remained the same: building on foundational knowledge in all of the disciplines, working towards mastery of language and mathematical arts. Through this mastery, and, even more importantly, viewing these studies through a Christian lens as they grow in knowledge in their biblical studies, students grow in wisdom and hone their communication skills so that they are able to be heavenly minded and do great earthly good.

Applying the ideas in chapter two of Wisdom and Eloquence to a Christian classical education leads to these goals:

  • Creating independent, lifelong learners by teaching students how to think, not just what to think
  • Integrating the disciplines
  • Teaching the liberal arts and sciences to children of all ages with age-appropriate curricula
  • Inspiring students to explore, discover, and continue to learn beyond the classroom

Geneva strives to reach these goals in the following ways:

  • Teachers develop fluent readers who are able to read with automaticity, which lays the groundwork for deeper comprehension and understanding; readers also develop a strong sense of right and wrong.
  • Students in every grade learn how subjects and disciplines are interrelated: math and music are intricately and intrinsically intertwined; literature can be better understood by studying the historical context in which it was written, and the two are inherently connected; the same can be said of history and scientific discovery.
  • All subjects are taught to each student, using age-appropriate methods and language, from K4 through senior year.
  • Students experience what they are learning inside and outside of the classroom through special feast days, culminating events, and field trips that bring classroom lessons to life in hands-on ways.

Here are just some of the special days and field trips that students experience during their years at The Geneva School:

  • Seafood tasting in K4
  • Kindergarten store
  • Florida Native Festival in first grade
  • Velveteen Rabbit sewing day in second grade
  • Greek Olympics in third grade
  • Viking Day in fourth grade
  • George Washington’s birthday ball in fifth grade
  • Hobbit Day in sixth grade
  • The North Florida trip in seventh grade
  • The Everglades trip in ninth grade
  • Math and science classes that have students outside testing and proving theories
  • Reading Macbeth aloud in English class and going to see a Shakespeare play annually at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater
  • Senior thesis presentations
The Geneva School
The Geneva School
July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

Recent Stories from Geneva's Blog

Wisdom and Eloquence: Worldview and Formation

By Christina Walker

In this series of blog posts that explore the book Wisdom and Eloquence by Ro…

Wisdom and Eloquence: Integration and Inspiration

By Christina Walker

It’s been a minute since we visited Wisdom and Eloquence, but now we’re g…

Wisdom and Eloquence: Our “Hope-Filled” Goal

By Christina Walker

Society is constantly changing; in the midst of that constant change, we are …

A Thousand Words

By Christina Walker

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it would take volumes to impart the s…