Do Christian Schools need Philosopher Kings?

Plato argued that the best kings would also be philosophers. Where most kings had the qualities to achieve their goals, the philosopher’s concern for truth and value make him the most able to choose good goals. Christian schools need these qualities, yet principals, like historic kings, often lack philosophic perspective. This post presents some suggestions to guide and motivate school leaders toward the philosophic strengthening of their schools.

Plato proposed that societies should be governed by “philosopher kings.” Kings with leadership ability and administrative skills alone were not enough to bring about the best society. The world needed kings who deeply understood the meaning of life, people, and society. These kings could not only maintain order, but they could lead society towards a good end.

The world never saw many that fit the bill of a philosopher king (Solomon?), perhaps the qualities that draw one toward philosophic reflection tend to compete with the qualities of leadership where one must be boldly decisive and the qualities of administration where one must keep a multitude of concrete details organized and functioning as a whole.

Christian schools need these qualities, too. Yet, I find that the position of principal draws more people with leadership and administrative aptitudes than with philosophic aptitudes. If a philosophic outlook was not valuable, this trend would be of little concern, after all, Christian schools can run like well oiled machines that please their tuition paying parents with little deep Christian reflection. However, the spiritual depth and intellectual distinctions of our schools are dependent upon philosophic insight.

What can be done? To be healthy, the Body of Christ must recognize and draw from the gifts of its diverse members. Administrators must draw from others to compliment their weaknesses. Even when their schools “look good,” they must draw out those who can give them insight for philosophic improvement. They can seek out local pastors, scholars, and others who have reflected deeply on Christian education. Additionally, principals should draw insight from within their own communities. They can encourage their faculty, boards, parents, and students towards reflection and discussion. SACE’s discussion forum is an attempt to facilitate this reflection and the interchange of ideas.

Christian philosophic thinking is a pursuit of truth and value, it strives to discern God’s vision of what can be; it becomes the compass or the blueprint for Christian action. As Christian school leaders make greater effort to lead and administrate their schools toward the good ends that God envisions for the education day, I believe our schools will increasingly set the standard for schools across the nation. Every Christian school needs a philosopher king, or at least, a principal who recognizes and addresses the philosophic needs of his/her school.
blog comments powered by Disqus