By Chris King, Ph.D., President of Dallas Christian School
Prior to living in Texas, I always heard that everything in Texas is bigger. This was certainly reinforced when we moved to Dallas and saw just how huge the high school football stadiums were in comparison to football stadiums in Georgia and even California. Side note, a second observation was confirmed when we moved to Texas and that is Texas high school football is really really important as evidenced in the number of hundred million dollar high school stadiums.
But is everything that is bigger actually better? Our culture tends to favor bigger over smaller. A bigger volume of Dr. Pepper seems better than a smaller Dr. Pepper, a bigger portion of fries at fast food places seems better, bigger houses, bigger trucks, and bigger belt buckles all seem better or at least preferred. I’ll reserve my right to keep my opinion to myself on all of the aforementioned items. But, I do have an opinion when it comes to education on whether or not bigger is always better.
Dallas Christian School is obviously a much smaller school in student population compared to our surrounding public schools, but our academic course offerings, total number of potential college credits, and opportunities for spiritual growth is just as big, and even bigger, than the schools around us. I understand the need for large capacity “factory” schools across our country. The reality is that education in this country looks and feels eerily similar to what it was like in the 1900s. The urbanization of our country promoted a national move away from rural farmlands to urban centers and factory work. Populations started to boom in major cities because of the migration to big cities and immigration to this country. This was also the time that technology made it possible to mass-produce goods. For the first since the world-changing invention of the printing press in the 1500s, technology made it possible to manufacture on a large scale, and in quicker time, goods that helped catapult the United States economy to quickly become a global superpower. It was during this time period, 1920s, that public education in this country underwent modernization. The schoolhouse transitioned from being a one-room space full of students of all ages to massive “factory” like facilities where students were segregated by age.
Just a decade earlier, Henry Ford perfected the assembly line technology. The assembly line made it possible to take a single cog that was needed for a bigger piece of machinery and uniformly insert that cog over and over again with very little variation and work stoppage. As a result, Ford was one of the first industries to successfully mass-produce their vehicles. The assembly line approach to mass-producing cars in the early 1900s was borrowed to shape the way education was conducted. A student, similar to that cog in the wheel of machinery, was placed on the assembly line of a common curriculum, age segregation, and designated classroom time that measured learning in Carnegie Units. They were pushed through a uniform experience with the idea of “stamping” out a common part needed for the machine of the American society and economy. At the time, this was a genius way of managing a populace ages 6-18 while at the same time make sure kids were not running the streets causing societal angst, forced to work in unsafe factory conditions, and could be indoctrinated with the ideologies and values systems of what the government desired for her citizenry.
In 2018, The United States of America continues to be one of the few post-industrialized countries that attempt to educate every child ages 5-18. As a result, our government still relies heavily on public education; and, therefore, funds heavily public education to accomplish many goals necessary to governing a populace. And, the “factory” approach seems to continue to be the preferred method. I should pause and disclose that I actually think the “factory” approach may be the only option available to our government. I can’t think of a better architectural design and model to manage and govern several thousand individuals at once. By the way, this same architectural design is also used by other industries in this country that also have to govern and manage several thousand individuals.
While Dallas Christian continues to organize our students by age, and we continue to track the earned Carnegie Unit of our students because that is what is required by higher education, we do not subscribe to the “factory” approach of housing and learning. We have the luxury to be selective on managing our school size. We do not have the desire to be a school that house thousands of students or even a thousand students. We recognize that with “bigger” come “bigger” problems. The notion that a student must navigate a hall full of several hundred kids many of which are not at school to actually learn, and then sit in a class with several dozen kids, again some of which are not interested in learning, and then desire to participate athletically or in other extracurricular activities only to be pushed aside because of the sheer numbers is not the type of school experience we desire for our students.
But beyond the aesthetics of enrollment numbers, our philosophy of education is fundamentally different than our local public school. We recognize that to attempt to educate a student without also providing spiritual formation is to miss the most basic element of what it means to be human and made in the image of God. If our public schools are prohibited from teaching kids at early ages how to self-identify as people infinitely valuable made in the image of God for an eternal purpose, then it is no surprise that culturally we have large segments of adults that fail to see and value their neighbor as a child of God infinitely valuable made in His image. They may be very skilled academically, but they require tremendous spiritual remediation.
Admittedly, Dallas Christian School is not for every family. We recognize that not every family values our same commitment to the Bible and spiritual matters. We recognize that not every family values our college preparatory academic culture. And, we recognize that not every student is able to keep their discipline in check to meet our behavioral standards.
But for the families that do align with our mission and purpose, we want to meet you and share the amazing opportunities we have for your student. We want to share that a high school student can earn up to 49 hours of college credit before they graduate from Dallas Christian. 36 of those hours are dual-credit classes offered on our campus and guaranteed to transfer to any state college or university in Texas. We want to share with them that our graduates get accepted and attend some of the best colleges and universities in Texas and in our country. We want to share that every student gets to attend Bible classes daily to learn more about God’s word the Bible and how to discern God’s will for them. We want them to experience a classroom environment where the teacher has the luxury to teach and not spend all their time on classroom discipline. We want your family and student to experience what it is like to do life in a community that seeks to honor Christ.
Would you like to find out more about Dallas Christian? Contact our admissions team, who would be happy to give you a tour.