Monthly Archives: February 2017


“Not Everything Good Is Measurable”

I recently came across an article by homeschooling mom and Circe Institute Blog contributor Jessica Burke called “Not Everything Good Is Measurable.” I found that when I reached the end of the piece I let out a hearty “Amen.” Truly, not everything good – and most everything besides – is measurable. Forming students into lifelong learners skilled in the tools of learning can’t be reduced to a percentage, a stanine, a score, or an average. Our school is built on that premise. I hope Mrs. Burke’s words provoke a hearty, concurring “Amen” from you also.

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One day, when my husband got home from work, he joined me at the kitchen window to watch our children. “What are they doing?” he asked.

“Digging, of course.”

While searching for a new house, my children had had one request: a place to dig.

“What do they want with a hole? When will they know to stop?”

I looked at him and shrugged, unknowing.

After a few months, we had a hole that the Burke children were quite proud of. “It’s a great hole,” they tell their friends. “We have the best hole!” they exclaim. It isn’t terribly deep, probably just over two feet, but it has a diameter of about four feet. Lots of small children can hide in it if they ball up.

What intrigues me the most about the dig hole, as we affectionately know it around here, is what the kids do with it. Sometimes they use it to accomplish more tasks that I don’t understand. They almost filled it up with acorns this fall. They discovered that slipping around on thousands of acorns in a hole is great fun. After they emptied out the acorns, they filled it up with leaves. This made for a perfect place to bury themselves.

If we define our children’s education solely by measurements then our children may think that there is a point where education is finished.

They play countless imaginary games in it. It has been the hideout for good guys to tunnel to other worlds, a storeroom for their secret treasures, a trap for bad guys (and they were delighted when they watched an actual trespasser almost fall in the hole one day).

The work of a child is fascinating. What seems like meaningless work or just child’s-play to adults is really a powerful way for them discover this world and to think about other worlds.

As a home educator, feeling the weight of the responsibility of my children’s education, I can get concerned about doing enough. I hear my friends’ anxiety when we discuss choosing the right curricula that will teach the children everything they need to know. We stress over the number of books we’ve read and the scores on standardized tests, and as we measure the children, we measure ourselves. We determine to do better, to do more, to finish ahead of everyone.

In North Carolina, where I live, third grade is the first year for high stakes tests in public school. Friends tell me about their eight-year-olds crying every day before school. They tell me about the weekly practice tests, the threats of retention and summer school, the concern from the teachers over their own professional evaluations influenced heavily by the test results.

When I was a public school teacher, I was expected to have every minute of instruction time accounted for, and everything that was part of the scope and sequence had to be covered in 180 days. There was no time left for idleness or invention, for the students nor for me. My job description was to keep my students’ minds engaged, to fill up their mind with everything they need to know based on the state’s standards. I worked hard to ask them the right questions that would lead to the right answers. The most important thing, we were told, was that the students must do well on their tests, that everything important to a child’s education can be measured.

But how do you measure what a child does in a hole? How do you measure the stretching of their imagination? How do I measure the growth of virtue and the roots of truth in a child’s heart? Do I need to?

Education is not about passing a test. Education is not about achievement. If we reduce it to measurements, we discredit the importance of beauty, of truth, and of virtue. In Teaching from Rest, Sarah Mackenzie says, “Remember how far we progress in a book does not matter nearly as much as what happens in the mind and heart of our student, and for that matter, in ourselves.”

When we share laughter and conversation at the dinner table, we can’t see how our family is growing in love for each other. When we read aloud to our children, we cannot see what is happening in their imaginations. When we study Latin, we cannot see the growth in character that comes from hard work. When we memorize poetry, we cannot see a love of beautiful words developing. Much of our job does not generate measurements. Much of the work of a child cannot be measured.


Students Shine at Regional History Bee

Four Regents students qualified for the regional competition of the National History Bee: Mason Rasberry, Kelso McEntire, Cate Baker, and Ella Li. It was a great honor for these students to join the competition in Houston on February 17, 2017.

Mason and Kelso each made it to the Championship Round (top 8) of their age divisions. In addition, we are proud to announce that Mason, Kelso, and Ella qualified for the national competition in Atlanta in June.

Great job, young historians!


Regents High Schoolers Visit Austin

The Regents 9th and 10th grade classes traveled to Austin on February 15-16, 2017, to attend Nacogdoches-SFA Days at the Texas State Legislature. The students met State Senator Robert Nichols and State Representative Travis Clardy. The group also toured the capitol and visited two museums. This trip has become a tradition for Regents students, who study Government in the 10th grade and then are able to see government in action at a state level. We are so proud of our students, who represented their families and their school so excellently.

The students are pictured below with their Government teacher David Henry, Regents parent and board Vice-Chairman David Alders, and State Rep. Travis Clardy. Appearing in the second picture below are Lance Vermillion and Kilyn James.


The Conservative Purpose of a Liberal Education

Conservative author and thinker Russell Kirk (1918-1994) understood well that the purpose of education is not to provide career training but to form students in virtue and “to teach what it is to be a true human being.” In the following excerpt called “The Conservative Purpose of a Liberal Education,” from his book Redeeming the Time, Kirk articulates a number of fundamental principles of a classical Christian education. We do well to take them to heart.

Our term “liberal education” is far older than the use of the word “liberal” as a term of politics. What we now call “liberal studies” go back to classical times, while political liberalism commences only in the first decade of the nineteenth century. By “liberal education” we mean an ordering and integrating of knowledge for the benefit of the free person—as contrasted with technical or professional schooling, now somewhat vaingloriously called “career education.”

Liberal education is conservative in this way: it defends order against disorder. In its practical effects, liberal education works for order in the soul and order in the republic. Liberal learning enables those who benefit from its discipline to achieve some degree of harmony within themselves. As John Henry Newman put it, in Discourse V of his Idea of a University, by a liberal intellectual discipline, “a habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom; of what… I have ventured to call the philosophical habit of mind.”

The primary purpose of a liberal education, then, is the cultivation of the person’s own intellect and imagination, for the person’s own sake. It ought not to be forgotten, in this mass-age when the state aspires to be all-in-all, that genuine education is something higher than an instrument of public policy. True education is meant to develop the individual human being, the person, rather than to serve the state. We tend to ignore the fact that schooling was not originated by the modern nation-state. Formal schooling actually commenced as an endeavor to acquaint the rising generation with religious knowledge: with awareness of the transcendent and with moral truths. Its purpose was not to indoctrinate a young person in civics, but rather to teach what it is to be a true human being, living within a moral order. The person has primacy in liberal education.


Great Job, Spellers!

Congratulations to sixth grader Noah Satir! He placed third out of a field of twelve students from our five-county area last Saturday at the official Scripps Spelling Bee sponsored by the Lufkin Kiwanis Club. Prior to the individual bee, our 4th grade team (Seth Lekas-captain, Ben Satir, Jacob Lekas) and 8th grade team (Liane Muir-captain, Leah Vermillion, Caroline Alders) earned 2nd place trophies after more than four intense hours of spelling words ranging from tutu to charpoy.

Congratulations to all of our class teams! Our students represented Regents Academy well. We are proud of all of you!