Stranger Things: Unexpected Results of Classical Christian Education

July 2, 2020

If you have been following this series of blog posts, it would be evident to you by now that the Good Soil Report shows incredibly positive outcomes in adult graduates of Classical Christian schools.

(If you have not been following and want to get up to speed, you can find all the previous posts in the series here.)

Today, I wanted to point to a few data points in the report that caught me off guard, most of them are encouraging but some of them are fascinating.


Because the data itself doesn't always directly lead to an answer of "why" Classical graduates responded or trended toward a particular direction, in many cases I can only speculate as to the reasons that we see these trends in alumni. As this post proceeds, I will try to point out when I am speculating on reasons and when I am just standing on the data.

That said, let's dive into some of the more intriguing data trends for Classical Christian alumni in the Good Soil Report.

The Environment

It caught me off guard that Classical Christian alumni are the most committed group to protecting the environment. On reflection, maybe this shouldn’t have surprised me much. Our schools tend to talk a lot about stewardship of the world as we study the Bible and, especially, The Lord of the Rings. I speculate that these lessons contribute to this response. What surprised me was that the environmentalism that I imagined being taught other places does not seem to be having as great an impact as I expected. Here is the data:

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 5.12.34 PM

53% of Classical Christian alumni answered affirmatively that they have an obligation to care for the environment. This was slightly higher than Catholic and public school alumni, and significantly higher than prep, evangelical and homeschool graduates.

Again, I take this as an encouraging sign that I cannot fully explain, but that points to the biblical commitment and responsibility of stewardship being taught by ACCS schools.


The Trust Factor

Classical Christian students turn out to be very trusting students. They outstripped most of the other options throughout the set of trust questions—even in ways for which I was not prepared. Here is the data pointing to the level of trust that they have for people:

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 5.14.05 PM

I guess it is not surprising that they trust people at work, at church, or neighbors more than other groups, but I was surprised that they trusted strangers more than other groups. I can only speculate on this outcome, but before I do that let me add the data on trusting other groups which I think might demonstrate some support for my speculations. Here is the group/institutional trust data:

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 5.15.10 PM

Here we can see that ACCS graduates trust scientists, atheists, the federal government, and mass media much more than the other majority Christian groups (evangelical schools and homeschool). Admittedly, the difference in mass media and federal government trust lines are not that different.

Now, what is going on here? I speculate that what we are seeing here is that Classical Christian schools are such stable environments that students in them learn to trust other people and institutions. Interestingly, this trust does not result in reliance on these institutions as seen in the data below:

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 5.17.34 PM

In it, we see that ACCS graduates might trust the government, but they don’t expect it to solve social problems—they tend to take on that responsibility personally instead of looking for institutions to solve problems.

Job Priorities

This was another area that asked interesting questions and produced intriguing responses. Here is the data:

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 5.19.38 PM

This is what I love about this chart: it shows what Classical Christian graduates really value and what they want to devote their living to accomplishing. The greatest factor in ACCS graduate job priorities is calling (i.e., what they think God is calling them to do). This is excellent. I am also very thankful that Classical Christian alumni highly valued being creative and helping others. Both are great motivators for long term usefulness and fulfillment.

What was just as telling perhaps is what these graduates don’t value. They are not going to be motivated by money (which I think is really good, because chasing dollars instead of calling often leads to unhappiness).

The final answer actually slightly discouraged me as a father, seeing that Classical graduates are also not motivated to choose a job to be near family. While I believe that the data shows that ACCS schools motivate students to have an outward (i.e., service) orientation, I know that I (and other parents like me) would love for our children to choose to settle down nearby!

I hope that you enjoyed this exploration of the unexpected, stranger, yet still encouraging parts of The Good Soil Report. I am encouraged by these odd and unanticipated findings, and I hope you find them thought-provoking as well. 

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Tyler Fischer

Head of School

Tyler Fischer

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