Three Regents Academy students were recently selected for the Texas Music Educators Association Region 4/21 orchestras.
Three Regents Academy students were recently selected for the Texas Music Educators Association Region 4/21 orchestras.
Regents Academy 4th-8th graders celebrated two of God’s most magnificent gifts — poetry and autumn — with a haiku writing contest. The students each wrote autumn-themed haiku and submitted them in two categories: 4th-6th grades and 7th-8th grades. The poems are simply delightful to read, but the seniors were tasked with judging them, which was a difficult job indeed. The winning haiku were announced in Morning Assembly:
And here are the winning haiku (Mary Kate’s above, and Sydney’s below):
Thank you, 1st and 2nd graders, for coloring the lovely fall leaves, and thank you, Sherry Wiggins, Lori Cunyus, and Tanya Kelly, for teaching haiku writing!
He was called the gadfly of Athens for good reason, pestering 5th century Greeks with endless questions. Ultimately, the Athenians shut him up by giving him hemlock to drink, ostensibly for polluting the minds of Athenian youth. But his quest for wisdom remains and is embodied in anyone who admits ignorance in order to find truth.
Imagine Socrates having a conversation with a college student on the campus of a contemporary American university. Author Peter Kreeft envisions just this scenario in The Best Things in Life. Here we pick up in the middle of a conversation between Socrates and college student Peter Pragma (Pragma – get it?):
Socrates: What do you need money for?
Peter: Everything! Everything I want costs money.
Socrates: For instance?
Peter: Do you know how much it costs to raise a family nowadays?
Socrates: And what would you say is the largest expense in raising a family nowadays?
Peter: Probably sending the kids to college.
Socrates: I see. Let’s review what you have said. You are reading this book to study for your exam, so that you can pass it and your course, to graduate and get a degree, to get a good job, to make a lot of money, to raise a family and send your children to college.
Socrates: And why will they go to college?
Peter: Same reason I’m here. To get good jobs, of course.
Socrates: So they can send their children to college?
Socrates: Have you ever heard the expression “arguing in a circle”?
Peter: No, I never took logic.
Socrates: Really? I never would have guessed it.
Peter: You’re teasing me.
Peter: I’m a practical man. I don’t care about logic, just life.
Socrates: Then perhaps we should call what you are doing “living in a circle.” Have you ever asked yourself a terrifying question? What is the whole circle there for?
Kreeft, through the voice of Socrates, is exposing a great flaw of modern thinking about education: pragmatism. A pragmatic philosophy of education puts people on the hamster wheel of passing tests to pass classes to get degrees to get jobs to make money to have children who will start the vicious cycle all over again.
There is certainly a practical dimension to education. We need jobs that will pay bills, and our children need them also. But something we need more than jobs and money is an answer to Socrates’ question: “What is the whole circle there for?” And that is precisely what classical Christian education brings to the table.
The wealth of wisdom bequeathed to us from the Great Tradition and a robust Christian worldview show us the way. And when children are immersed in the wisdom and virtue and worldview-shaping influences of the Great Conversation, under the tutelage of godly teachers committed to Christian truth, then our children learn not just skills that will get them jobs and money but receive eternal gifts that surpass these things beyond measure.
“What is the whole circle there for?” We strive to take this question into account every day as we educate children at Regents Academy. We are glad to partner with you to do so.
Congratulations to Regents Academy senior Isaiah James Bertke, who has been named a Commended Student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized this month for their performance on the 2016 PSAT and for their exceptional academic promise. Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2016 competition and took the PSAT during their junior year.
Pictured is Isaiah with Headmaster David Bryant.
Congratulations, Isaiah, and may God continue to bless you!
Recently the Imaginative Conservative published an article titled “How Music and Memorization Can Save Our Failing Schools.” The article, by Annie Holmquist, suggests that tried-and-true methods such as rote learning are a big part of the cure for what is ailing contemporary education. Indeed, classical Christian education goes “back to the future,” with its rediscovery of practices used for centuries but largely abandoned in most contemporary settings. Holmquist’s article is well worth your time.
How Music and Memorization Can Save Our Failing Schools
By Annie Holmquist
We all want the best for our kids. Because of this desire, it’s quite discouraging to see when efforts to boost progress in reading, math, and other subjects flatline in schools across the country.
On the other hand, this perpetual stagnation causes us to sit up and notice when a school manages to boost its achievement in dramatic fashion.
Such is the case with Feversham Primary Academy in Great Britain. According to The Guardian, Feversham was a failure a few years ago. Achievement was low and seemed unlikely to improve given that many students hail from disadvantaged backgrounds or are English Language Learners.
But as The Guardian explains, the school began using the “Kodály approach, which involves teaching children to learn, subconsciously at first, through playing musical games.” By teaching these musical games and encouraging memorization of classic works such as Shakespeare, the school has experienced the following change:
Seven years ago Feversham was in special measures and making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Today it is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and is in the top 10% nationally for pupil progress in reading, writing and maths, according to the most recent data. In 2011, the school was 3.2 percentage points behind the national average in English. This year 74% of its pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, against a national average of 53%. It is 7.1 points above the average for reading and 3.4 above for writing. In maths, the school was 2.4 points behind the national average in 2011 and is now 6.5 above it. Its results for disadvantaged pupils are well above average.
Such increases are quite impressive and appear to mirror the forty percent achievement gains another British school experienced after incorporating Shakespeare into lesson plans.
So why is it that these simple techniques appear to produce such stellar results?
The answer to that question may be found in what music and memorization appear to do the brain. Research suggests that exposing children to music fosters brain development and boosts their “vocabulary and reading ability.” Likewise, memorization “exercises” a child’s brain, training children to pay attention while also laying a foundation upon which they can build future facts and insights.
These components are core elements of classical education. In the grade school years, also known as the grammar stage, classical education capitalizes on the love children have for rote learning, using songs and rhymes to instill historical dates, scientific facts, and famous literature in their brains. When they move beyond these years, they find they have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips from which they can draw, make connections, and spin off new thoughts.
The funny thing is, while this common-sense approach to early childhood education was standard practice for centuries, it has been abandoned in recent years. Shunning rote learning, we have instead told young children to draw on their own (limited) experience or feelings when completing school assignments.
Classical education methods of music and rote learning have been experiencing a revival in many home and private schools in recent years and have enjoyed a good deal of success. The dramatic turnaround in the Feversham school suggests the success of these methods is not limited to those of a “privileged” status.
Is it time we ask ourselves if modern schools have been too hasty in tossing out the rote learning methods of music and memorization?
Let me brag on our school for a minute or two. God has blessed us in so many ways, and I am continually thankful for all the good gifts and wonderful people He has brought together at Regents Academy. Right now I’m thinking about the many extracurricular opportunities at our school these days. They are so much more than just extra stuff to do! Through our extracurriculars students’ abilities and gifts grow and develop, students find platforms to explore interests and passions, and students are given opportunities to be servant leaders.
What are these opportunities?
High School Clubs
The Regents chapters of the Key Club and the National Honor Society afford many opportunities for service, leadership, and academic recognition. These groups are active both within our school and also in the community.
Regents has active teams in cross country, soccer, basketball, and track and field. Each team is led by a devoted volunteer coach, and our student athletes excel, even with a rigorous academic load and many other commitments. Students also participate in Volleyball Club and Golf Club.
The Regents Orchestra meets weekly and performs several times per year. Competitive choirs also meet weekly and compete through the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). Many students also compete individually through TAPPS in piano, strings, guitar, and voice. In addition, three music teachers provide lessons on campus during the school day.
The brand new Regents chapter of 4-H has gotten off to a strong start, with much interest among students and parents, and a new grant for gardens that will be tended by students. A dedicated group of student officers is doing a great job leading the club.
Speech and Academics Team
Also competing through TAPPS, our high school team meets weekly, with students preparing to compete in tests (math, current events, literary criticism, etc.) and speaking events (solo and duet acting, prose and poetry, extemporaneous speaking, etc.). Our team has had a lot of success in recent years, winning several state championships.
A number of excited students gather frequently to prepare for the spelling bee, which is coming up in late November.
And remember – all of this is in addition to classes, field trips, music, art, drama, and plentiful activities that fill our halls and classrooms during the school day!
Our school’s mission is, in part, to “equip students to lead lives of virtue, display mature character, love learning, and serve the Triune God.” Extracurricular activities are one important avenue for students to benefit from this great purpose. There’s a place for every student to get involved and grow into the man or woman God wants them to become.
Regents Academy seniors Grace DeKerlegand and Lindley Bryant recently had the privilege of scrubbing up and observing several surgical procedures at a local hospital. Trying to determine their post-high school options, both young ladies wondered about the possibility of observing an actual surgery to see if working in the medical field might be of interest to them. They got their chance last week, and both students believe it helped them refine their career interests.
If you think of a school as a machine, then you have to conclude that every part of a school is necessary. A car with all its parts except for a radiator hose is not going far. Likewise, a school without, say, books or desks won’t get very far either. But what is the most important part of a school? What is most needful for a child’s education to be successful?
Is it technology? Maybe if we put a computer in every classroom, teach students to be computer-savvy, and connect every school to the internet, then education will be effective.
Is it money? One might be led to conclude so based on the headlines. Spending on education in our country has grown exponentially in recent decades, even while student performance has steadily declined.
Is it teachers? Again, if you follow the nightly news, you might conclude that teachers are the sine qua non of a successful education. Many educational policy makers are advocating that teacher pay be based on student outcomes. Poor teachers, then, get washed out of the system, and what is broken gets fixed (or test scores rise, at least).
Or is it facilities? Opportunities for students to escape failing schools? New methods and progressive curriculum? Government-mandated standards?
Possibilities could be multiplied ad nauseam. But ask teachers who are actually in the classroom day by day. They will tell you what theorists and politicians may very well have missed: what is most needful for a successful education is committed parents. A class could meet under a shade tree on a picnic table with nothing but a teacher and a shared book, but if the students have parents who are involved in their children’s learning, motivated to excellence, and committed to holding their children accountable, then that education will still be effective.
A Christian worldview teaches that God governs mankind through several overlapping realms: the church, the civil magistrate, and the family. And it is the family – parents, not governments – that is tasked with educating children (see Deuteronomy 6). So parents are called by the Lord God to educate their children for Him, and good schools know that they educate children in loco parentis, in the place of parents. Schools don’t replace parents; rather, they partner with parents to aid them in their responsibility under God to train their children.
Therefore, parents should recognize this responsibility. Parents should see that their part in the educational machine is essential and irreplaceable. And more: parents should embrace a vision for their children’s education. So look carefully at your own attitudes about reading, math, Latin, and writing. Your children share your attitude about these things. If you think a subject is a waste of time, your children will, too. If you love to read, fill your home with books and ideas, and let your imagination spill over to your children, you are doing something that teachers, curricula, and computers can never accomplish alone.
God has created you, parents, to educate your children. It is the most important business you can engage in. We can praise God for excellent teachers at Regents Academy, for the riches of classical Christian education, and for wonderful books and buildings. But we must remember that visionary and dedicated parents are what is most needful for a child’s education to be successful.
Please pray for Regents Academy second grade student Susanna Ketchen, who underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove a tumor from her spine. Susanna and her parents are in Houston at Texas Children’s Hospital. Please join our school family in praying for this little girl and her family. Susanna’s mother, Melissa Ketchen, is our first grade teacher.
Please visit Susanna’s CaringBridge site for updates on this precious little girl.
If you’ve never used CaringBridge, go to www.caringbridge.org and enter Susanna’s name in the search box to navigate to her page. You will need to create a username and password in order to visit her site.