"The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance into the knowledge of heavenly mysteries."—St. Isaac of Syria
"Society is corrupted precisely through the want of Christian education." —St. John of Kronstadt
St. Isaac's School
A primary Orthodox parochial grade school, St. Isaac's Orthodox School began its classes in September 1994, at that time offering 1st and 2nd grades, and completed that eight year course at graduation in June 2003. The school has a unique integrated approach and curriculum which attempts to bring to educational philosophy a unified Orthodox Christian perspective that is comprehensive, non-fragmented, hierarchical, and personal.
Described by the consensus of the Saints as the "mind of the Church," this unified perspective brings both teachers and students into a different life and faith, as the Holy Trinity reveals itself in this world. Not merely "regular" school with religion classes added—every subject: i.e., history, science, math, art, English, literature, spelling, geography, civics, music, health, handiwork, Slavonic and Greek are consciously brought back to this unified Orthodox perspective of all nature, history, and philosophy.
The Necessity of Orthodox Education in Our Perilous Times
We live in a world of moral decay, shifting values, relativism of beliefs and creeds that teach a politically correct view of a non-critical tolerance of untruth, self-centeredness, and a disbelief in the true faith—a faith worth dying for, the faith of the martyrs, the faith of our Fathers, the unchanging Holy Orthodox Faith. What can we as Orthodox Christians do? How can we, and more especially our children, escape from a way of life based on the serpent's ever present lie that says self-centered individualism is good, that the center of man is in his personal thoughts and feelings, and that if we trust ourselves we "...won't die the death...?" The fruit of disobedience, of personal opinion, only looks good, but it is filled with bittersweet sin, deformity and death. From Eve's tragic mistake let us learn to repent, to change, to see as the Holy Saints saw this passing world in the light of the unfading truth and the luminescent reality of eternal Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord.
Without attention, training, and vigilant effort in making this unchanging truth as God sees and reveals it our own—this living out of "correct belief" and "correct worship" which is our Holy Orthodox Faith—we will slide down the broad and well-worn path leading to Hell: the life of unrepentant, self-centered individualism frozen into tortured eternity. May we and our children escape such a self-inflicted state!
Orthodox Christian education is the main lesson of our life, a life designed to wake us up from believing that fallen human nature is normal and acceptable. Orthodox education is not just academic and theoretical, but deeply personal and practical, to effect a change of perspective and values to live in the Heaven of God's loving presence, both here and in the age to come. Orthodox education is life, our life, that we must live every day, for as St. Isaac so wisely said, "this life has been given to you for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."
"It should be placed as an unfailing law that every kind of learning which is taught to a Christian should be penetrated with Christian principles, more precisely, Orthodox ones. Christian principles are true beyond doubt. Therefore, without any doubting, make them the general measuring stick of truth."—St. Theophan the Recluse
The present need for Orthodox curriculum materials is vital today because of the serious degeneration of secular education, and the preponderance of evangelical Protestant materials filling the void in "Christian" homeschooling effort. We must turn away from these un-Orthodox concepts, and embrace the ancient unchanging view which has fed each generation of the faithful since the Apostolic age. We therefore are developing the fully Orthodox curriculum and materials to fill this void, and to call each aspect back to the "mind of the Fathers"—the living tradition of our Orthodox Faith, with nothing in confusion or contradiction. The process is long, and the laborers are few, so pray that this holy work can be completed soon.
"The task of every teacher is to give to his children a defined, permanent, stable foundation, on which he can in the future build a strong structure, a wise understanding of life. Contemporary schooling gives no knowledge of the will of the living God, it gives no understanding of how to live by faith and do good. It gives no answer to the basic question of the world concerning what is truth, no answer to the urgent, vital question of how to live. Not the quantity, but the soundness of what is learned is important. One should teach only what could become a true part of oneself: that which can be fashioned usefully by the soul, mind and heart, not just the memory."—St. John of Kronstadt