Thursday, November 29, was Monk Day for the 7th and 8th graders, who recently studied the Rule of St. Benedict and medieval monasticism. They interspersed periods of prayer and Bible reading with work and study, in imitation of medieval monks. Several of the students dressed in monk attire. All the students practiced copying and illuminating Scripture passages. The students also did extensive work on the school campus — raking, building above ground flower beds, spreading mulch, and moving dirt.
Pictured below are the monks: solemn, working, and gleeful. It was a great day!
It is clear that the Liberal Arts—classically understood to be the study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric—has become passé in the modern context. Part of the reason, it is claimed, is that the study of these arts is not directly related to any particular marketable skill; there is no quantifyable payoff for mastering these disciplines, no price tag on them. Many employers are ready and willing to purchase a person’s skill or knowledge in medicine, mechanics, engineering, or accounting, to name a few—there is a price tag on these disciplines. But, ironically, the value of the Liberal Arts lies precisely in their intransitive nature; that is, “the effects of studying these arts stays within the individual and perfects the faculties of the mind and spirit” (Marguerite McGlinn). They cannot be purchased in the job market, for no amount of currency is worthy of them.
In her wonderful book, The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, Sister Miriam Joseph likens the study of the Liberal Arts to the blooming of a rose.
In true liberal education…the essential activity of the student is to relate the facts learned into a unified, organic whole, to assimilate them as…the rose assimilates food from the soil and increases in size, vitality, and beauty. […] The utilitarian or servile arts enable one to be a servant—of another person, of the state, of a corporation, or of a business—and to earn a living. The liberal arts, in contrast, teach one how to live; they train the faculties and bring them to perfection; they enable a person to rise above his material environment to live an intellectual, a rational, and therefore a free life in gaining truth.
The teacher of the Liberal Arts, then, is like a rose gardener, carefully pruning and producing conditions conducive to growth. Yet, the analogy can’t be pressed beyond this point, since the rose gardener is actually a rose himself, steadily being cultivated by the Liberal Arts.
May the classical understanding of the value of the Liberal Arts be redeemed in our day to the glory of God.
Regents Academy is a member of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS). This organization is a great partner for our school as we seek to provide an excellent classical Christian education for our children. The ACCS national conference is in Dallas this year on June 21-23. Most of the staff and board are attending, but it will be a great conference for parents also.
I want to encourage all Regents parents to consider going. I promise: you will not regret it!
- Insight into the differences of the classical classroom;
- Encouragement by seeing the “big picture” vision of the classical movement: i.e., we are not alone in this endeavor and we are not crazy. This reinforces the commitment to a classical and Christian education;
- Answers to questions parents are either reluctant to ask or don’t know how to ask;
- Better understanding ofthe parental role in the education process, the distinct advantages of a classical and Christian education, the Trivium and the important differences of each stage, and the need for a rigorous program of study.
If you are interested in attending or want more information, please see me. You can also visit the ACCS website at accsedu.org. We would love for a group of parents to accompany us on the trip!
Among my many duties at Regents Academy, I teach the junior and senior Omnibus course each afternoon. I enjoy it immensely because I love being in the classroom with students, and I love literature and ideas. This year we are studying the Medieval millennium and its many worldviews and impacts. Augustine, Boethius, Dante, Machiavelli – the authors we are reading are an honor roll of some of the most influential thinkers of Western civilization.
The timeline of events, personalities, and history in our class this year has paralleled the 4th grade class’s study of history as they, too, have focused on the years from the close of the Ancient period to the opening of the Renaissance. Mrs. Katrina Terrell, the 4th grade teacher, and I decided to seize the opportunity of our two classes studying much of the same material and bring them together to work side-by-side on some projects.
First, at the end of last semester my class studied the Crusades by reading a firsthand account written by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, a general in the Fourth Crusade. The 4th grade class also studied the Crusades, so the juniors and seniors prepared brief presentations to share what they knew with the 4th graders. They were delighted to discover that their younger schoolmates knew much of the same material and had eager minds to take in new information. Afterward, the 4th graders were allowed to ask questions of the high schoolers: “What is Omnibus?” “What science do you take?” “Do you drive to school?”
Also, we decided to team up the classes for a Medieval Feast. Boy oh boy, what a great time! Parents decorated the Great Room as a banquet hall and prepared authentic Medieval food for the students to eat with their fingers in authentic Medieval style. There was a castle cake and a stained-glass window with a knight fighting a dragon. The students came in costume and presented entertainments. And the students worked together in young-old teams to give presentations on various facets of life in Medieval times. Then after the feast they went outside to play games together.
One of the real blessings of the whole event was the preparation for it, when the juniors and seniors teamed up with 4th grades to prepare their presentations. They were like big brothers and sisters (at their best), leading their younger schoolmates and encouraging them to contribute to the presentations. It was a real delight to see them busily and happily at work side-by-side, laughing and discussing Medieval monks, scholars, soldiers, ladies, artists, pilgrims, and lords.
As I reflect on our classes’ partnership, Mrs. Terrell and I really are very thankful. Groundwork laid in the grammar school is reinforced and built up on the secondary school; ideas and events come around again, and students are allowed to build on what they know. Regents students really do love each other. Seeing the older students working with the younger students is a treasure. Class events like the Medieval feast are memories that students take with them forever. They will remember the day they dressed up in costumes, ate strange food, and feasted in Medieval style with the big kids.
And then, too, I am reminded that at our school, school really is about learning, and learning can be fun. Sounds revolutionary, eh?
This year Regents Academy students in 6th-12th grades have the opportunity to compete in the Medusa Mythology Exam.
The exam is open to public, private, and home-school students. The theme for this year’s test is “Malicious Monsters and Monstrous Mortals.” It is a 50-question, multiple choice, 40-minute test that will be administered the last week of March. The fee is $3, and registrations are due by the end of January. Top achievers are eligible for cash awards.
For more information you can check out www.medusaexam.org. The sign-up sheet for Regents students is on the extracurricular board in the back hallway.
Something very new for most parents whose children begin at a classical school is Latin. Why do we teach Latin? Why should students learn Latin? And most importantly, how can our children succeed at Latin?
Cheryl Lowe at Memoria Press offers some excellent insight in response to this last question. Let me recommend to you her article “Four Principles of Latin Study.” These are principles to guide a Latin program, but they are also useful for parents who want to help their children succeed at learning this essential language.
Please follow the link and read her helpful article.
What a classical education? What is a Christian education? What is the relationship between the two?
Those are three questions that continually come up. I would guess that they are questions that current Regents parents seek answers to, and they also hear them asked of them and so they need answers for others also.
Dianne Scouler at the ACSI publication Christian School Education asks these very questions and offers insightful meditations in response in her article called “Classical or Christian or Not? That Could Be the Question,” taken from the February 2011 edition.
I would encourage you to know the answer to those three questions.
Here is an article from the blog at DiscoverChristianSchools.com. The author reminds us of the high priority of giving our children a Christian education. In the midst of many secular schooling options, Regents Academy stands alone as the sole K-12 Christian schooling option in the Nacogdoches area.
It is always good to stop and consider the high calling of Christian education.
You Have to Watch Out for the Pork on Thursdays: The Trouble with Being Sheltered from Reality, by Mark Kennedy (this article has been slightly edited for length)
My childhood friend Bill grew up to be a respected and successful bank executive – a man who occasionally helps financial institutions beyond our borders. A few years ago while consulting for a bank in Dublin he made his temporary GHQ in a small hotel that boasted a dining room for its guests. On a Thursday evening he ambled down to this quaint eatery for a taste of Celtic cuisine not suspecting the violent conflict that would arise later in his stomach.
“I was sick all last night after eating in your restaurant!” he told the manager the next morning. “Well, what did you have for dinner?” “Roast pork!” said Bill. “Ah yes,” replied the manager philosophically in a lilting Irish brogue. “You have to watch out for the pork on Thursdays.”
You can imagine the questions in my friend’s mind after his initial shock wore off. Perhaps foremost was “Why didn’t someone tell me?!?” Sheltering someone from reality can be dangerous. And sometimes the consequences can be much more serious than a minor case of food poisoning.
Consider the effects of an education that intentionally shelters students from the most essential realities about life and living – a secular education where the daily presence of the living God is ignored and the authority and guidance of scripture is dismissed – an education that edits out the creator and sustainer of the real world.
It’s not that a secular education necessarily speaks out against the God of the Bible or openly denies the authority of the Scriptures. It simply remains silent about them. And that’s the problem. If a student from a Christian family receives a consistently secular education, how surprising can it be if he concludes that God can’t be very important? “After all, they never talk about Him at school,” he might reasonably say to himself – and his logic would be pretty hard to refute. He got the message that silence implies.
Robert Louis Stephenson expressed it plainly: “The cruellest lies are often told in silence.” So when important, even vital truths are withheld from people who desperately need to hear and experience them, Stephenson says it is a cruel deception.
The silence in secular education has implications for the way children learn, believe, think and face life’s challenges. When students are sheltered from God’s reality, they are vulnerable to the deceptions Paul warns about in Col 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Philosophies produce actions, and actions produce consequences.
So it should be no surprise that sex education that ignores biblical standards produces ever growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases, abortions and accompanying psychological problems; that a purely mechanistic and evolutionary view of humanity convinces some students they are worthless genetic accidents so that suicide becomes a reasonable option; and that personal troubles for which secular minds have no real answers cause some students to turn to illicit drugs in a hopeless attempt to escape. The world of drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuous or perverse sexuality is so often a false refuge for people who have not been equipped to deal with the real world.
In Christian schooling we don’t shelter students from reality. We prepare students by telling them the whole truth about the real world and by honoring the presence of the source of all truth and by teaching future generations about his standards for living. As the Psalmist says, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done.” Psalm 78:4
In the early 1990s after Russian Communism collapsed I found myself on a team of North Americans instructing hundreds of Russian educators about how to teach the Bible to Russian public school students. Evgenity Kurkin of the Russian Ministry of Education explained why we had been invited to do that, “Seventy years ago we closed Him [God] out of our country and it has caused so many problems in our society we cannot count them. . . . We must put God back into our country, and we must begin with our children.”
And what about the future cost for North American students, especially those from Christian homes, who have been sheltered from the realities that matter most for living now and for the life yet to come?
The 2nd grade class recite the Adverb Chant from Shurley Grammar in the Youtube video below. Thanks to their teacher, Mrs. Lori Cunyus for the video.
Great job, students!