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Q: “Why does a classical Christian school spend so much time on mythology and ancient pagan cultures?”

A: Beginning in second grade, our students embark on a journey through history, often through the eyes of many pagan cultures: the mysterious world of the ancient Egyptians, the pantheon of immortal but highly imperfect Greek and Romans gods, the gruesome Norse tales, or the romanticized knights and legendary dragons of the Middle Ages.

At first glance it seems counterintuitive that our quest for the true, good, and beautiful could be furthered by wading into tales that are false, ugly and oftentimes terrible. The confusion begins to dissipate when we see that there is, at the core of all mythology, a desire for humans to understand and explain themselves and the world around them. Therefore, mythology often contains elements of truth, albeit marred by our humanness.

There is a longing and a yearning for something higher than ourselves which has been felt since creation that no man can ignore. Mythology is an expression of that desire.

Children feel a longing for a perfect world just as the ancients did. They grieve over unfairness and injustice in our world. Like the ancients, they live in a world they do not always understand and can connect with feelings of confusion and a desire to comprehend the unexplained. They learn through these stories just as the ancients did. Children are capable of extracting great truth from stories.

We do not seek to disciple students in a bubble — untouched by the world they are commissioned to serve — but in a greenhouse, exposed with great care to the elements, until they are strong enough to withstand them alone. By teaching students at a young age to discern truth and beauty from ancient, fictional, pagan works, we send roots into the ground that will withstand the shaking of modern, fictional, pagan ideas that will surround them as young adults.

~Kourtney Wright is the Director of Teacher Development & Grammar School Curriculum and Instruction at Westside Christian Academy in Westlake, OH.