Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 3

For the past few weeks I've been writing a weekly post (just me being rhetorical!) about what I learned at the recent CC conference in Casper.
Today's post is on what makes classical education different from modern education.
 
I'm not trying to criticize those who do things differently than I do, or to say that teachers in public schools don't teach well.  Most teachers out there are pouring themselves out and spending countless hours working to instruct kids and invest in them.  You may disagree with me, and that's okay!  I'm just sharing information from the conference that I found to be interesting.
 
 
Modern education has the student at the center, with the various fields of study (subjects) being taught separately.

 
A poor Christian education mimics the modern educational model exactly, except that Bible is thrown in as an additional subject.
 

 
A good Christian education will have God at the center, rather than the student, and will showcase God's role in each of the subjects.
 
 
 
A great Christian education will have God at the center and show not only what God's role is in each of the subjects but will also teach how we can know more of God from each of these subjects.
 

 
A classical Christian education will have God at the center, and will study God's supremacy in each study, as well as discovering more of God through that art, and will show the unity of each subject, both with God and with all other subjects.
(I realize my pic only shows 4 studies, that was just to make my drawing simpler, not because classical education skips out on the other areas of study!)
 
This is THE MISSING LINK for me personally regarding education! 
 
All of my life this lack of interconnectedness has been an irritation, and I'm finally having an epiphany about the unity of all subjects!


 
Most of us were trained to cram for the test, pass it, and then dump the info we had studied.  We knew how to jump through the hoops at our respective schools to pass the class, get the grade, get the transcripts, get into the college to get the job, etc.  But if you ask most High School Seniors to tell you about the 8 rules of speech, who Charlemagne was, how to conjugate a verb, or to give a discourse on whether or not truth is relative, most couldn't do it.  We have a country full of kids who can regurgitate info in their short-term memory on demand, but who can't think for themselves or teach others. 
 

 
God designed us to find harmony.  When we find harmony (whether that is learning to play a beautiful piece of music, building something with wood, doing math calculations, recognizing constellations, cleaning up our kitchen, sewing a new dress, writing a lovely essay, preparing a logical argument, figuring out a puzzle, excelling in a sport, writing a blog post explaining the methods of education, etc. etc. etc.) we are acting like God.  We were made in His image, and therefore, we were made to calculate and create!

 
Even as Christians, sometimes we want the "easy" answers.  One example given by our speaker, Andy, would be the Life Application Study Bible.  We don't want to discover things for ourselves, research, look things up, etc.  We want to be spoon-fed the answers.  "Oh, that's what that Bible passage means and that's what I should take from it.  Okay!"
CRAM
PASS
DUMP
 
We are conditioned to expect a practical sermon, rather than a normative one.  Our pastor consistently preaches normatively, but it has been hard for many people in our congregation to get used to because most have had years and years and even several decades of practical teaching.  This is not to say there is never life application in normative teaching, rather, you have to work harder, and actually think about what God's Word is saying instead of just being "spoon-fed" by the pastor each week and told to do these 3 steps to be a better person, etc. etc.

 
Recently a friend of mine was sharing with me how her 12 year-old granddaughter is so frustrated in public Jr. High school. She says, "Nothing makes sense, nothing is related to anything else, and I just don't understand why I have to sit there and learn this irrelevant information."

A classic case of D.I.
Disharmony irritation.
 
Perhaps some kids get so used to the way things are that they don't notice the irritation anymore.  It's like wearing an itchy wool sweater--eventually you won't notice the discomfort if you wear it daily.
But for this young girl, and for myself, the discomfort is noticeable and hard to ignore.
 
 
Disharmony has been irritating to me both as a student and as a teacher of my own children.
And let's face it, as parents, when our kids act disharmoniously with each other, doesn't it drive us absolutely out of our minds?  We crave harmony, in our world, in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, and especially in our studies.  If you don't have the tools of learning, namely, a foundation in the Truth, then when you set out to become educated you do more than just fail....you do harm!  (See Dante's quote in the picture above).  You can leave God out of your life and go to the best schools in the world, but you will not find harmony in education, research, or study without Him at the center.  As Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him."
 
 
Because of The Fall, and our subsequent human condition, we are all "brain damaged."  Some have more damage than others, and we all have it in different areas, but as we find harmony, or in other words, "get educated" we repair the damage.
 
 
 
So, seek today to find harmony, and as a result you will discover more of God and make more of Him known to others.  When your child asks you, "Why do I have to do math?"  remind her that math relates to harmonics (another term for music) and that music is just numbers moving, just as astronomy is shapes moving.  When your child complains about having to research, remind him that "The Greeks studied astronomy not only for naviagtion but for interest in TRUTH, WISDOM, and VIRTUE."  Tell him that knowing the star patterns, or his math facts, or how to write in cursive, makes him a better person. 
 
 
"A mind that has studied the stars is conditioned to see things that cannot be seen any other way...."
 
 
 
Did you miss the first couple of posts in my series?
 
Part 1  Freak-Out Homeschool Moms
 
Part 2  The Way We Learn
 

5 comments:

Anna said...

I agree which is why my daughter goes to the local Charter school. Most charters are Expeditionary Learning schools - everything is related. Instead of having math, then reading, then science, etc, they have 1 common theme that each subject is tied to. They call them "Expeditions" and can have a few every year, or just one. This year (second grade) my daughter has one expedition - The Power of One. They basically learn about their carbon footprint. Every subject focuses on this one topic, so they still cover the MN standards for second grade, but at least everything makes sense. Like your friends granddaughter - studying 6 different things a day is totally crazy!

Last year they had an expedition called Food for Thought and it was so awesome. They learned a LOT. They are encouraged to create their own projects, and really use their brains! My daughters first grade class made their own website, among many other things. At the end of the expedition they have a Celebration, in which they present what they have learned to the rest of the school and their families. I really couldn't ask for much more in a school!

I have subbed for 7 years in all of the schools in Bemidji and am so grateful for my kids to be able to be a part of such a great learning community.

LS said...

Awesome Anna! That is so cool! I wish they had a school like that here!

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Lindsey said...

Oh my gosh! I was just trying to discuss this with my sister (who's a High School English teacher/coach). I was having trouble getting clear cut answers regarding the differences between "Progressive" teaching/education and "Classical". Your post couldn't have come at a more perfect time! Thank you for clearly laying out the differences. :D

thehomespunheart said...

Ooooh - yes! I love those visual pictures from the Practicum! The Classical Christian model is just beauty!!

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