by Dr. Jessica Drexel
“It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?" "But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan. "Are -are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund. "I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis
You’ve probably never compared Narnia to your local private school in Northwest Arkansas, and I’m fairly certain that the Anthem board members don’t have any talking animals, enchanted trees, healing potions, or magical corridors between worlds prepared for their school launch this fall. However, there are some helpful parallels between the Pevensie adventures in Narnia and a student’s purpose at a Christian school like Anthem.
In Lewis’ classic, the child Lucy Pevensie worries that Aslan—a Christ-figure in lion form—is confined to the enchanted realm of Narnia. She fears that though he is powerful in Narnia, he would be irrelevant once she returns home or grows up, since all the ordinary children who visit Narnia eventually return to their normal lives as they grow older. For them, Narnia is a space of coming-of-age, where each child confronts his or her greatest fears and weaknesses and comes out on the other side stronger and more mature. As they learn virtue and grow closer to Aslan, they also inch closer to their departure from their beloved Narnia. Therefore, Lucy’s sadness is that she and her siblings can never grow into and are never meant to inhabit Narnia permanently; her time there is short and purpose-filled, and she stays only long enough to learn and serve others. But Aslan’s response assures Lucy that Narnia has prepared her to know him more fully in her own world. Narnia is not an escape or a shelter from reality, but a training ground for the rest of her life in the real world.
Like Lucy’s visits to Narnia, the key to classical education is that it is purpose driven: a Christian school like Anthem acknowledges the purpose of the whole person, which is to live faithfully and fully in the world God created. As the Good Soil Report indicates, classically educated students are more likely to live purposefully and virtuously, to consider many different worldviews, and to form friendships with people with different beliefs than their own. And while this isn’t the main goal of a classical education, these students also are more likely to succeed in their work and careers post high school. At Anthem, students will not be taught that God is limited to the institution, but that he exists and is present in every area of life within and beyond the school.
Just as there is a purpose with each visit to Narnia, there is a purpose to a student’s education journey at Anthem. Students do not come to Anthem to escape the world, but rather to live in it fully and faithfully. Like the Pevensies, Anthem students are ordinary Royals, called to know God’s love, to see enchantment in the world, to exercise discernment, and to pursue a life of servant leadership.