We are living during an age in the West, perhaps in the whole world, wherein the prevailing view of all things could best be described as utilitarian. Modern Americans, in particular, have a way of reducing most everything down to its usefulness, its efficiency, and of course, its cost. Jobs go to the lowest bidder. We buy where we get the best deal. Our books are paperback no matter the genre, dime store romance or classic. Our buildings are metal, whether serving as an auto body shop or a church. After a few years of this kind of thinking, everything begins to look the same.
This weekend, Trinitas students continued the long tradition of dramatic stage productions with two performances of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the midst of amazing costumes and captivating sets, it is helpful for us to consider why Trinitas invests time and resources into drama.
By definition, drama is a picture or representation of human life in that succession and change of events that we call story told by means of dialogue and presenting in action the successive emotions involved. As Shakespeare wrote, all the world’s a stage and each of us plays a part. Drama enables students to enter past, present, and future worlds and to explore and discover the lives of others, whether in historical, biblical, or literary settings.
Drama is another tool for educators to use to teach the essentials of the core disciplines of Christian education.
The Bible is full of agrarian metaphors. One of the greatest of these metaphors is based on the principle of sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping in the world of agriculture works like this: if a person plants a field with wheat seeds, that is, if a person sows wheat, then wheat is what will be harvested, or reaped. No corn or beans or squash or tomatoes will be harvested if wheat seed is what has been planted. Harvesting anything other than wheat from sown wheat seed is absolutely impossible.
“Is not the great defect of our education today … that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything except the art of learning.” –Dorothy Sayers
Upon going to school, children are expected to take up certain “subjects,” to apply themselves to these subjects, and to eventually become masters of them. We as parents and teachers are not wrong to push our children and students to master those subjects; however, one of the drawbacks of focusing on mastering subjects is that we can develop tunnel vision in the process; we run the risk of focusing on the subjects and mastering what to think at the expense of learning how to think. We—and I mean everyone involved in the education of a child: parents, teachers, administrators, and the child—run the risk of just wanting to know what is going to be on the test.
Classical educators are sometimes questioned about why we teach Latin and Greek to 21st-century students, and so I have used this space from time to time to offer an apologia for teaching those classical languages. And more of that is exactly what I intend to do now. Someone will protest and say, “Why do we need this explained to us again?” It is always good to be reminded why we do good things.
Those with a utilitarian view of language often apply pressure on classical schools to teach something “useful”: Spanish, for instance; French, if you must; Chinese, if you can. Those are all lovely and useful languages. If we were a large, wealthy school with a “Foreign Language Department,” we would happily teach all of those languages as electives, but do you know what we would continue to require for all our classical students? Latin and Greek and lots of it.
Happy New Year! The older we get, the faster the years seem to come and go. It is as if we began 2022 just yesterday, but 2023 is now upon us. Many of us like to begin each new year by making resolutions—new year, new start. This year I am encouraging Christian parents to make three resolutions for raising Christian children: correct our children according to God’s word, eat at least one meal together as a family every day, and engage in family worship or devotions daily.
If we pursue these resolutions diligently and pray continually for guidance and help from the Holy Spirit, 2023 can be a year of great spiritual growth for our families.
Later this week, Trinitas will mark Grandparents Day with a program of Christmas-themed choral pieces and recitations. Although we've addressed the prominent role music plays at Trinitas in other blog posts, recitation of a short skit or some piece of excellent prose or poetry is also a long-standing tradition at Trinitas. Why do we do it? Why do we ask our students to recite in public? Recitation is a valuable and important aspect of classical education. It helps students develop excellent rhetorical skills, it gives them almost immediate feedback on their hard work, and it challenges their fear of speaking in public.
God is a good and forgiving God. His mercies are renewed to his people afresh every morning, and oh, how we rejoice! God’s people living in community with each other are called to imitate God, to love him and to love each other. Because we are fallen and imperfect people, not only do we sin against each other, but we also have trouble forgiving those who sin against us.