Struggle is among the most important elements in the learning process. Learning a new thing—whether Greek, knitting, or fly-tying—is hard work and requires some pain if it is to be done well. Think of it this way: after learning something new, one is not the same person he was before he learned the new thing; he has undergone a metamorphosis. That process of change necessarily comes with some struggle and pain.
(Trinitas faculty member Mr. Sean Johnson addressed these comments to the graduating class of 2020 at Commencement Exercises on May 29, 2020.)
"Good evening to the board of governors, faculty and staff, families of graduates, and to the 2019-2020 graduating class.
I have always wondered just what it would take for someone to ask me to give a commencement speech. I imagined myself much older, with a long career to look back on, several published books to my name, maybe an online cult following of homeschool moms and a few English teachers who would railroad their administrator into inviting me to speak to their graduates….
All it really took, though, was some poor unfortunate soul on the other side of the planet eating a bowl of tainted bat soup and sparking a global pandemic that would force all life and commerce in America to a grinding halt thus preventing the real commencement speaker from traveling to Florida. I feel like I should have seen that one coming…
Having said that, I am superlatively honored to be here, and I want to thank Mr. Gilley and the Board of Governors for the opportunity to address this class.
One of the mantras of classical Christian education is “repair the ruins.” The line comes from John Milton, that seventeenth century English poet and intellectual who wrote the classic, Paradise Lost. Milton wrote on a host of other topics, including education, and once wrote,
“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him.”
The classical educator sees himself as a servant in this labor, a guide to his students. But repairing the ruins and redeeming truth, goodness, and beauty which has been lost by our culture is not confined to the classroom.
One of the toughest days for parents is their child’s first day of school. The event is especially difficult for mom. Let’s face it, there is something unsettling about handing your child over to a group of strangers who take her behind locked doors where you are not free to follow. Whew! The first day of school leaves more than a few moms feeling, well, is guilty the word I’m looking for here? One begins to wonder while driving away from the school, just what is the parents’ place in education.
If you have stumbled upon this blog, there is a good chance you are trying to make a decision about your child’s education. Should you send her to a public school like most everyone else you know, or should you spring for a Christian school? Make no mistake, this is one of the two or three most important decisions you will ever make. No pressure, right? If you are a Christian, there are a lot of reasons you should consider a Christian education over a secular one. Here are three that top my list.
When asked which is the “great commandment?” Jesus tells those gathered to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Then he says the second, which is like it, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Astonishing the hearers, Jesus confirms that all the law and the prophets can be summed up in those two commandments (Matt 22:36-40).
To the graduates in the Trinitas class of 2019, congratulations. To all the faculty at Trinitas Christian School, to all the parents of the graduates, and to the Trinitas Board— among whom I count many dear friends— well done.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be back in Pensacola again, where I and my family spent many happy years with the Trinitas community.
Like many in the Trinitas community, lately, I have been reading Joshua Gibbs’s first book How to be Unlucky: Reflections on the Pursuit of Virtue. (Actually, I have been listening to it, which isn’t quite the same thing as reading it, but that is a discussion for another day.) Gibbs uses The Consolation of Philosophy and his years in the classroom (several of them at Trinitas) to approach the subject of pursuing virtue through classical education. Pursuing virtue is an educational activity we allude to from time to time, a catchphrase we hold up as an important goal of classical education, even a claim with which we sprinkle our marketing brochures, but really, what does it mean to pursue virtue? And why only pursue it? Do any of our students ever actually catch up with it?