Article XIl: The Head Teacher Unfolds the Worldview Behind Two Great Leaders – Continued
Our mission to educate youth in a historic Christian worldview compels us to examine men and movements like these through use of questions like those developed by Walsh and Middleton, in The Transforming Vision. With their questions let us seek some rudimentary analysis of Alexander the Great and Alfred the great as two great leaders worldviews apart.
Who am I? – What is the author’s (leader’s) concept of the nature, task and significance of human beings? Does he portray his characters (himself) as innately good or deceitfully wicked or a confusing combination of both? Alexander saw himself as basically good because he was a Greek king and declared the son of the gods. In Egypt, he took the title of pharaoh, was declared to be son of Zeus and understood to be in essence the god-man. Alexander sought a name for himself above all other men. He viewed himself as savior of the world delivering the Persians from their Persianness into the glorious state of Hellenism. Apparently, anything Alexandrian or Hellenistic was innately good while anything Persian was innately bad. This is seated in part in a millennia long cultural feud between the “Greeks” and Persians. Alfred, deeply understood himself to be a sinner saved by grace and understood himself as a sub ordained creature under the one true God who had called him to glorify and enjoy Him forever. He knew humankind to be desperately wicked but created in the image of God. Perhaps because of this he both knew the Saxons of Wessex must defend themselves from the bloodthirsty Vikings and he knew he must see the redemption of the Vikings once a just peace was affected by warfare. Alfred sought the glory of another.
Where am I? – What is the author’s (leader’s) belief of the origin and nature of the reality in which human beings find themselves? How does the author portray the world, what governs the world? How does the author have his characters view the world? Is it ordered, or chaotic, material or spiritual? Alexander fundamentally believed he could control the world as son of the gods. Alfred understood that the sovereign God governed the world. He and his armies prayed before battle. And, after a win, Alfred brought in Priests to preach the Gospel to the conquered Vikings.
What is wrong? – How does the author (leader) believe man can account for the distortion and brokenness in this reality? How does the author portray this brokenness, has man forgotten to nurture his spiritual side, rebelled against God, given into superstition or lost his way of being one with nature? Alexander seemed to assume the favor of the gods as he crashed forward in his grand conquests. During his rapid decline in dissipation that lead to death in his early thirties, he did not seem to experience guilt over his brokenness but privilege due to his exalted position. Alfred understood the fallen nature of humankind and the forgiveness of God.
What is the remedy? – How does the author (leader) think man can alleviate this brokenness, if at all? Does he need to seek balance (be at one with the universe), solve his problems rationally, be saved alone by grace, or rely on moral standards to remedy the problem? In the case of Alexander, If there was a need to remedy the brokenness of human kind this would have taken place through the placation of the gods. At the height of his powers Alexander in a way took the place of the gods, as son of god himself, and was therefore judge of all things. Alfred. Especially during the years of struggle when Alfred was losing to the Vikings, there was much prayer and repentance as Alfred the Christian realized that in God’s sovereignty he and his people could undergo judgment because of their sins. The remedy was repentance and forgiveness.
What is really real? For Alexander fame was ultimate reality. The Greek view of the after life left him little hope for the future. He seemed to seek a place in a new Homeric epic, where he could claim immortality along side Achilles and Odysseus. He slept with a copy of the Iliad corrected by Aristotle under his pillow and held Achilles as his model. Alfred, assured of his eternal salvation, confident of his future resurrection, needed no famous name other than that of Christ Jesus his Lord. Therefore, he could serve his fellow man giving glory to God.
What is the essential nature of the world? Both men seemed to see the world as ordered, not chaotic, and both material and spiritual. However, while Alexander consulted the Oracle at Delphi, waiting like many for a confirming prophecy, Alfred consulted the unchanging Word of God. While Alexander ordered his material world to promote his own image, Alfred sought to apply the law of God to justice in war and law, truth in learning and the Gospel for the salvation of many of every tribe, tongue and ethnicity.
What is the nature of humanity? Alexander seemed to see Greek humanity as primarily good and other humans as needing to adopt it. Alfred knew of the fallen nature of all humans but of the power of the Gospel to redeem.
What is the nature of good? Alexander sought to earn credit for goodness through remarkable achievement while Alfred could peaceably accept the goodness of God bestowed by He who would lead us to repentance.
What is the meaning of history? History provided Alexander a shrine for his own idolization forever. For Alfred history was the progressive establishment of the Kingdom of Christ in this world until He comes. He did not need to make a name for himself.
These two men were both great, but they were two leaders worldviews apart. In our scoped and sequenced PreK-G12 curriculum we study Alexander during the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages of the student’s education. The student should learn something about both the facts and the interpretation of the facts through the worldview questions at each level. In the grammar stage, the student will learn the facts with the teacher’s careful interpretation lest they think Alexander great in every way. After all he was really one of the greatest robbers in history. Even the descriptions on history memory cards address the facts and some interpretation. At the logic level the students should ask the question “why”, and explore the possibilities using the worldview questions, but in the end be sure they arrive at an acceptable answer. They might generalize their understanding allowing them to interpret war, empire and culture of any period with worldviewish assumptions in mind. At the rhetoric level, students will learn to apply worldview thoughts persuasively to history, literature and to the contemporary world. They may propose an answer to twenty first century international relations based their analysis of Alexander and Alfred over the years.
I hope and pray this single example will help you as you relentlessly pursue educating youth in a historic Christian worldview through a rigorous classical education.
When Chicken Little Cries, “The Sky is Falling!”
The Strategic Academy Assessment and Action Plan
And many more