2017 Conference Details

Location: InterContinental Hotel, Dallas, TX

Pre-Conference: June 21

Main Conference: June 22–24


Conference Theme: The Good Life

Among classical Christian educators, there is a lot of discussion about “the good life.” Teachers want students to heed the ancient philosophers’ call to live an examined life, one that is virtuous, contemplative and wise. Yet, there are many tensions and challenges as school communities seek to realize the principles and vision they promote. Often schools are institutions that feel hurried, overworked and exasperated. Thus the “good life” can be missed, or at least obscured, by the myriad of too many “good” pursuits.

What is the good life? Jesus said, “no one is good except God alone” (Mk. 10:18). That means that any conception of the good life is inseparable from God’s character and Will. Miroslav Volf said that the good life is “righteousness, peace, and joy,” which implies that the good life is not fully achieved by individuals. Rather, it implies a life that enriches and imparts good to others within the community. The good life must include habits and practices that are oriented toward the kingdom of God. As Dostoevsky observed, “the second half of man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” What are these good habits? How do we instill them in our students and ingrain them in the culture of our schools? How do we embody the good life for our students and exemplify the things we teach?

The Society for Classical Learning invites classical Christian educators to join us at the 2017 summer conference to discuss these questions and the ways in which we can understand, pursue, and live the good life. We are honored to have Jamie Smith, Rod Dreher, David Kinnaman, and Joshua Gibbs lead the plenary sessions and help us frame this important conversation. We look forward to seeing you there and invite you to join the conversation.

Registration for Non-Members:

Admission to the main conference for non-SCL members includes one year of complimentary membership to the SCL. You will receive a coupon code by email that will allow you to register as a member.

See a full schedule for the conference here

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Pre-Conference Tracks

  • The Dynamic and Disciplined Board: Most schools recognize that the primary function of a school’s Board of Trustees is to ensure that the school fulfills its mission over time. But does your board fully understand how to create and safeguard a stable, mission focused school? This full day board training will explore best practices for the boards of classical and Christian schools. We will discuss in practical, concrete detail the role of the board and the key tasks that every board must accomplish to plan for and protect your school’s future including defining success; key indicators of institutional health; hiring, supporting and evaluating your one employee: the Head; strategic and financial planning and execution; board self-evaluation and perpetuation; and organizing your calendar and meetings to ensure the right work gets done at the right time. Join our panel of current and former School Heads and Board Chairs as we discuss best practices and real world experiences. Bring your whole board and your questions.


  • Starting & Leading Urban Classical Schools: A pre-conference designed to spread the fostering of hope in God in urban communities by training leaders to start, lead, and grow urban, classical, Christ-centered schools (starting with the K-5 level)


  • Classical Christian Education 101: The day is organized into the following sessions:
    Calling, Culture, and Curriculum—Thinkers like James K. A. Smith and David Hicks have argued compellingly that all education takes place within a culture and that the highest work of this culture is to be “a pedagogy of affections.” By shaping and directing our loves, culture teaches us who we are and what we should value. This session shows how the liberal arts curriculum that we have received was developed in service of the culture of the historic Church—that is, Christians adopted and adapted the classical liberal arts curriculum in fulfillment of their calling to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
    The Arts at the Heart—The liberal arts occupy the center of a Christian classical education, hence it is essential that we understand their unique character. This session unfolds the image of the liberal arts as the seeds and tools of learning, exploring how they are ordered toward wisdom as well as the arts of beauty and service. Particularly, we seek to show how the liberal arts build off the poetic underpinnings of early education and serve the pursuit of wisdom—natural, moral, and divine.
    The Arts of Mathematics—The mathematical arts are not of modern invention, but along with the language arts form the warp and woof of what Antiquity understood as enkyklikos paideia, a complete or well-rounded education. This session seeks to re-enchant the mathematical arts by transposing mathematics from the frozen notes of a merely modern education to the moving harmonies of the classical tradition.
    The Arts of Language—Language is not simply communication; it is the power to create words (as the first page of Holy Scripture captures unforgettably) and to move men’s souls. This session explores how the arts of language are designed to harness this power, perfecting and putting it to wise and productive work.
    Joining Understanding to Imitation—As neither content to be covered nor mere skills to be learned, but the very heart of Christian classical education, the arts of mathematics and language imply a distinct and compelling curriculum and pedagogy. This expanded session focuses concretely on how to teach the arts of math and language as well as what should be taught and in what order.
    Wisdom and Service in the Age of Science—The modern disciplines, modeled as they are according to the paradigm of modern science, form much of the curriculum of our schools in the upper grades. Students in Christian classical schools will take courses in sciences like biology and physics, for example, as well as courses in history and economics. This session shows how the liberal arts model of education challenges aspects of the modern disciplines, focusing students’ gaze beyond mastering a body of knowledge to gaining wisdom about nature and human culture in order to love and serve their neighbors.


  • Math in Focus in the Grammar School: How do we teach mathematics classically and Christianly? How does the Math in Focus: Singapore Math textbook series support this kind of teaching? How do we prepare teachers, parents, and students for the adoption of Math in Focus textbooks? What kind of timeline is required for a complete grammar school adoption of Math in Focus? How do we help parents adjust to and appreciate the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics? What kind of ongoing parent education and teacher training should we plan to provide? How do we navigate the textbooks and maximize the various teacher resources Math in Focus offers? How important is it to integrate manipulatives? If you are asking these questions, then you need to come to the Math in Focus Pre-Conference hosted by the Society for Classical Learning and led by Andrew Elizalde.

Plenary Speakers for SCL 2017

James. K. A. Smith

James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College where he holds the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview.  The award-winning author of Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? and Desiring  the Kingdom, his recent books include Imagining the Kingdom (2013), Who’s Afraid of Relativism? (2014), and How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (2014).  His new book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, was just published by Brazos.

His popular writing has appeared in magazines such as Christianity Today, Books & Culture, and First Things and periodicals such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  Smith is also a Senior Fellow of Cardus and serves as editor of Comment magazine.

Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a writer and journalist who focuses on Christianity and culture. He is a senior editor for The American Conservative magazine, and the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming, and its sequel, How Dante Can Save Your Life. His latest book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians In A Post-Christian Nation, contends that traditional Christians will have to become profoundly countercultural and communal for the faith to survive the coming darkness. Classical Christian education is a key part of that strategy. Rod lives with his wife Julie and three children in Baton Rouge, La., where his kids attend Sequitur Classical Academy, and his wife teaches in the grammar school. The Drehers are Orthodox Christians.

Joshua Gibbs

Josh Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs is the editor of FilmFisher, a frequent contributor at the CIRCE Institute, and a teacher of great books at Veritas School in Richmond, VA. He has been labeled “insane” by two Pulitzer Prize-winning poets and once abandoned a moving vehicle for fear of his life. He married a girl he fell in love with in high school and has two daughters, both of whom have seven names.

David Kinnaman

David Kinnaman is the author of the bestselling books Good Faith, You Lost Me and unChristian. He is president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services. Since 1995, David has directed interviews with nearly one million individuals and overseen hundreds of U.S. and global research studies. He and his wife live in California with their three children.