Regents students and teachers were privileged to host Dr. Alan Reed on November 11, 2011. Dr. Reed is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Nacogdoches. Dr. Reed shared a devotional with our school family that encouraged us to treasure the Bible as the Word and God and build our lives on it.
I share his message with you here.
Regents Academy fosters a unique relationship between parents and educators that is summarized in the Latin phrase “in loco parentis.” While it means literally “in the place of parents,” the best English word to render this phrase is “partnership.” At classical Christian schools, there is a meaningful partnership between the parents, who have the primary responsibility under God to educate their children, and the school, which assists the parents in their job. The practical implications of this partnership are many; teachers and parents work together each day to fulfill our lofty classical Christian vision for students through a lot of communication, hard work, and understanding.
Christopher Perrin, in his booklet An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents, does a great job explaining the “in loco parentis” partnership. The following excerpt is from that booklet, which is a reading I would commend to all Regents parents. It is the booklet that we hand out to all new parents and that briefly and cogently explains this thing we call classical Christian education.
Partnership with Parents
Classical schools work with and for parents. Since we believe that it is the parent’s responsibility (not the state’s) to educate their children, it cannot be otherwise. Our authority over children is delegated to us from parents who have enlisted us to help them in their educational task. We see ourselves as in loco parentis—in the place of the parents. This does not mean that parents dictate the curriculum or pedagogy; it does mean that teachers serve the parents, listen carefully to their feedback about child and curricula, and seek to forge true relationships with parents in order to best understand and educate their children. It usually means that parents are welcome in the classroom; it means that parents take their responsibility seriously by reviewing and helping with homework, encouraging their child to be disciplined and diligent and generally supporting the teachers and staff of the school.
When parents abdicate their responsibility to educate their children, it is inevitable that some other institution will step in to take over. T. S. Eliot warned that as parents become passive, the schools would increasingly replace parental roles and responsibilities:
Instead of congratulating ourselves on our progress, whenever the school assumes another responsibility hitherto left to parents, we might do better to admit that we have arrived at a stage of civilization at which the family is irresponsible, or incompetent, or helpless; at which parents cannot be expected to train their children properly; at which many parents cannot afford to feed them properly, and would not know how, even if they had the means; and that Education must step in and make the best of a bad job.
Parents at classical schools do not assume that education is the school’s responsibility. They understand that the school is assisting them to fulfill their responsibility. Many parents choose to classically educate their children at home; these parents are certainly taking their education responsibility to heart. However, most parents have themselves not been classically educated. We are, after all, recovering something that has been neglected for at least two generations. So parents are learning along with their children. Many a parent at our school is studying Latin along with his or her third grader; many parents are finally learning English grammar, or studying logic. As you can imagine, this kind of collaboration and commitment among parents, teachers and students involves a good bit of hard work. Parents in our schools think this labor is worth the prize, not only for their children but for themselves. To varying degrees, we are all trying to get the education we were not given.
On any given night, parents are encouraging children as they do homework. They are checking homework, reading notes from teachers, writing or calling teachers, helping students stay organized and ready for what lies ahead. Beyond this, they are reading to their children, praying with them, instructing them in a myriad of ways around the house and the dinner table, discussing books, field trips and the experience of the day, counseling and exhorting them regarding peer relationships, school work, homework, chores and play. They are parenting. The school helps them parent, but does not become the parent. Parents come onto campus and into classes as they wish; they assist in classes, substitute, come on field trips, help serve lunch, coach a team. Many teachers are parents with their own children in the school; board members are parents, administrators are parents. Parenting and educating, in such a school, are not easily distinguished.
Recently in senior rhetoric class, the 12th graders studied “the Poetry of Argument.”
We had already studied the structure of a logical argument and observed the power of claims and reasons and evidence. But now we were studying the important matter of poetic expression. We discussed how there is a modern mentality that demands precision, quantification, abstraction, and direct correlation in language. This is the analytic paradigm.
But we observed that there is another paradigm for language that values metaphor and personification. It requires imprecision, qualification, concrete images, and oblique correlation. I asserted to the students that this way of speaking is actually often more accurate and often more powerful.
Which is more powerfully expressed?
“It is currently 104.3 degrees Fahrenheit outside.”
“The Devil called; he wants his weather back.”
As a way to explore these two modes of expression, the students were assigned this exercise in description: use analytical language to describe a spring day. Then use poetic language to describe a math problem. They were befuddled at first, but they got the point. And I might add that they got the point quite well. Especially Ali Hosseinpour, who wrote two wonderful descriptive paragraphs. I share them with you below — please enjoy them.
Analytic Description of a Spring Day
It was Friday April 4, and it was 86.45 Fahrenheit outside. I went outside my house and saw 96 helianthus annuss; surrounding them were apis mellifera linnaeus, which are in the order hymenoptera. As the 12 millimeter apis beat its wings at 11,400 times per minute, it tried to find a suitable helianthus annuss. Then it stuck its proboscis to suck out the nectar and carried the nectar to his beehive. I could also see two cyanocitta cristata trying to get a perennial which is in the section cyanoccucus. 3.8 meters away from me I could see an odocoileus virginianus. She was doing a basic function needed to sustain life. 46 degrees to my right there was a pinus aphremous which was using photosynthesis to obtain nutrients so it could also sustain life. The sky, due to the atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere that separate the sun’s white light into many colors and scatters them into the atmosphere, was blue. The sky was filled with tiny drops of condensing clear water vapor and ice crystals that settled on dust particles in the atmosphere. This was a great time for the earth to be tilting toward the sun.
Poetic Description of a Math Problem
What is one plus one? It is like me and you on a hot summer’s day, enjoying the warm air, playing in the grass and having fun at the fair. It is like you and I becoming friends, being happy to be alive and living like we should. It is not just one which is all alone and has no friends and does not know warmth. It is two which is far greater than one. When one cannot succeed by itself, two can strive forward. When I cannot figure out a math problem, do a chore, lift a burden, or feel good you will be there to show me the way and make me feel alive. One plus one is the mother and son being together, always having faith in each other and loving each other more than the world. They will never leave each other’s side, because the son can do far greater things with the mother, and the mother will have much more fun with the son. One plus one is something that should not be subtracted or divided because one plus one is something that should live on bringing happiness to the world.
Great work, Ali!
On Friday, November 4, Regents Academy hosted Father Paul Key, from St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry at SFA. Father Paul shared a devotional with the students and faculty. Our school is very blessed to have pastors in our community who take the time out to come share with our school. Thank you, Father Paul.
(Please note that the sound is not great in this video, but if you turn up the volume it is passable.)
Students at Regents Academy spend a lot of time thinking about things that happened a long time ago.
In Bible class students study the age-old biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption. In history class they study events from creation through the 20th century. In Omnibus students read the great books that have shaped Western civilization, from Homer to Lewis. In it all teachers lead students to gaze back into the past. Why so much focus on events and ideas from long ago?
The short answer is that, as a classical school, we believe we are preparing students to be ready for the future by training them to understand the past. To state it differently, children learn to face what’s ahead by facing backward. This idea is explained beautifully by Christian artist and intellectual Makoto Fujimura in an article that appeared in WORLD magazine in 2005. Here it is reprinted (and edited slightly for length) for you to enjoy. The principles he articulates here are quite powerful and formative.
Walking Backwards: Relishing Tradition Is a Sure Way to Face What’s Ahead
By Makoto Fujimura
We have been taking my eldest son, Ty (17), on college tours of late, traveling mostly up and down the East Coast. The climate of college selection has changed since I went through it in the ’70s. Back then, we toured the libraries and soaked it all in very seriously, but somewhat casually. College tours today have evolved now into individual performances worthy of rating and timing, much like a skating competition, and student tour guides are now trained to walk backwards and project their voices at the same time.
Aside from the technical requirements of such a performanceprojection of voice, not falling into the cracks in the sidewalks, getting back in time for the “informational meeting” (to answer how we can possibly afford this education)excellent college tour guides need to cultivate a human, artistic element. The best combined humor with the ability to pull out questions from prospective students. But if the college presentation had excessive marketingsay, a video piece showing many athletes and the “diverse” body of students all smiling in their successesthat was a huge deduction in Ty’s mind.
So as we toured campuses, naturally I began to ponder not just what makes a good tour guide, but a good education in general. After having a discussion of this issue with my son at one school’s “Asian” cafeteria in Baltimore (yes, having good sushi in the cafeteria earns a few points), we decided that a good education is learning to walk backwards into the future. Perhaps these college tour guides do have something to teach us, after all.
My wife and I have raised our three children to indeed look back, to respect the tradition and history that they have come from. Rather than promising them an unlimited future, I found myself teaching them to steward carefully the gift mix they have. I wanted them to know the best of our traditions, from Shakespeare and Bach to Hemingway. I want them also to know how much their own time echoes in the various chambers of history, and how they are relevant to post-9/11 experience. I want them to understand that in our mixed-race-and-culture marriage between Judy (Irish/English/Scottish) and me (Japanese and God knows what else), they represent in their mixed blood the very promise of reconciliation of nations that once were at war.
But we also do not want them to dwell there, but to walk confidently toward a goal on their own path. We have tried to teach them that success is not worldly success of money and fame, but being faithful to the unique journey God has called them to. Education must be past-focused and future-focused at the same time. Our job is to help our children discover the uniqueness of their callings that only they can walk in.
As I negotiated I-95 to get us home, and as Ty recited Hamlet in the passenger seat for his senior literature class, I pondered how much of our education is about the past, and how much is about the future. Of course, it is about both.
The key, I realized for him as for me, is walking backwards and paying attention to what comes ahead, at the same time. That takes a kind of zany, awkward commitment not normally encouraged in schools nor in the world. Whether we buy into the hype of college admissions or not, one thing is for sure: The 21st century will be led by creative children who boldly dare to lead, backwards.