People come and people go. That is a truth in any community. It is human nature, I suppose to some extent, for people to get interested in a thing, even convinced about a thing, then lose interest or become unconvinced over time. Maybe we just have a short (and shortening) attention span. Because it is enrollment season, though, and families are deciding whether or not their children ought to attend Trinitas next year, I am spending a few weeks focusing on some of the top reasons people give for losing interest in and leaving Trinitas. This is the third of four such installments, and I hope you find it helpful if you are trying to make an enrollment decision.
Last week, we shared ten practical tips for achieving enduring success and experiencing the wonderful fruit of classical Christian education at Trinitas, This week, we have ten MORE practical tips we've assembled from our teachers which we hope will benefit your family.
There is a great scene in Margery Williams’s 1922 children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit. The titular character begins questioning the old “Skin Horse” about the process of transforming from a mere toy into something more real. As the Horse explains:
“It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I always think of this conversation when I asked my opinion on writing in books.
Have you ever tried to quote someone, but ended up having to spend more time explaining how you’re probably getting it wrong from the outset? Has a conversation ever provoked a memory for you of something you once heard, and you’re certain it is relevant to the moment, but for the life of you, the words will simply not come when called? Such gaps in memory are a normal part of the everyday experience for most of us. And in the heat of the moment, we’re often tempted to turn to the nearest search engine, sometimes a bit chastened by having to rely on such an outside source. And it is this last part that might make you wonder, “what did people do before Google?”
We should read broadly. People love diversity, and that's good--so I suggest getting books from a wide diversity of authors. Often when people say, “I read diverse authors,” they meet sometimes mean “I read multi-colored authors.” That's not what I mean. I mean that you should read ideologically diverse authors. For example, take Voddie Baucham. He requires his children to read Mein Kampf, Origin of Species, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and Greek mythology. He's not afraid to do that. He himself spends nearly as much time reading books with which he disagrees as those which affirm his positions, and he is able to identify with and profit from both.
The topic of discussion for Parent Traditio this evening will be “Raising Readers: Cultivating a Love of Literature in the Home.” One facet of this conversation will be the importance of good literature in the forming of a child’s moral imagination. To illustrate this point, consider the scene from C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair (from the Chronicles of Narnia), where one of my favorite Narnian characters – a marshwiggle – bolding declares his commitment to the truth.
The pursuit of wisdom consists of basic things: reading boni libris, competing with a charitable heart on the field, turning in commonplace books, parsing Latin and Greek, working out complex Calculus problems, reciting poetry, memorizing Scripture, crafting essays, exercising your vocal cords in choir, and submitting your best art (even if you don’t think you’re much of an artist). Well, maybe it is better to say that these are the concrete ways you will pursue those lofty aims advocated by Aristotle, namely phronesis and techne. Both of them are arts aimed at the cultivation of the soul, phronesis meaning moral virtue, and techne meaning skilled virtue. Morals and skills. Or to use Paul’s language, “by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
At other times we have written here about the importance of the home, church, and school being in agreement, and it is a message that bears repeating. Those three entities have the most influence over a child’s formation. If the home, church, and school have different messages about who God is or who His people are or how they are called to live, a child’s mind will be divided on issues that are foundational to her existence. For a child to flourish spiritually and emotionally, hearing a consistent message from home, church, and school is necessary. By that same standard, a classical education cannot take root and flourish in the life of a child if it isn’t being supported at home.