I had to write two separate posts about the intro to this book because it was starting to get too long! So much to think about! Here is the second part of my thoughts on the intro.
One more point that I took from this introduction (and boy, if the introduction was so jam-packed I wonder what the actual body of the book will be like!), and that is this:
There is no neutral, nonformative education; in short, there is no such thing as a "secular" education.
That brings to mind Charlotte Mason who says,
We do not merely give a religious education, a secular education for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection.. (Italics mine)
All of the things that we study with our students are subjects which each shed a little more light on who God is and what He is like. Each subject - math, writing, music, science, all of it - comes from God Himself and the things that we pass on to the next generation have been revealed to former generations by the Holy Spirit. It is not disembodied knowledge that is unrelated to God. It is part of Him and we can become closer to Him through these studies.
But only if our heart is in the right place. Because we can also go ahead and study all these things without the intent of becoming more Christ-like and while the factual knowledge will still be there, and can even be practically useful, the heart remains untouched and our souls remain unchanged because there has been no encounter with the Ultimate Cause of it all. As Smith states,
...our identity is shaped by what we ultimately love or what we love as ultimate.
We must keep our minds on Christ and learn, through the tools that have already been given to us, how to love Him first and foremost. We must love Him as the Ultimate Beginning and the Ultimate End of all things.
One last quote from the intro:
Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it's a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly - who loves God and neighbor and is oriented to the world by the primacy of that love.