Rise Above the Waves

Posted by on October 23, 2017

Culture Surrounds Us Like an Ocean

Are we called to fight against the corrupt culture of this world?  Or are we simply called to avoid it?  Should we isolate our children from the culture or immerse them in it? These are challenging questions.

Waves of culture

For this reason, one excellent modern apologist attempts to address some of those questions in his ministry to families and young people.   Brett Kunkle is an apologist who has made a living helping teens learn to defend the faith.  He worked for years with Stand to Reason, a West Coast non-profit focusing on Christian training.  However, he is now launching a separate project intended specifically to equip young people, called Maven.  As a matter of fact, his website states their purpose as:  MAVEN exists to help the next generation know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty, and to equip those who teach and train them—parents, youth workers, pastors and educators—to do the same.”

We Must Train Them

I recently heard an interview with Brett Kunkle in which his shares a very helpful analogy.  He compares culture to the ocean and our children are like surfers.  For our children to enjoy and ride the waves, they need to be introduced slowly and with guidance.  Brett is himself a “surfer dude” and loves to enjoy the waves with his own five kids.  There are obvious dangers on the ocean but the most dangerous things are below the surface.  Unseen currents, rocks, and sharks can devastate even the most skilled.  In other words, if Brett wanted to share his passion, he knew his children would need instruction.

Mr. Kunkle began teaching his children to surf by teaching them about the water.  They started by splashing in the shallows.  He taught them to avoid the dangers but at the same time to enjoy the waves.  He showed them how powerful the water can be.  They came to respect the waves but also learned how to begin riding above them.

Of course the analogy breaks down because surfing is a pastime one could easily avoid altogether.  One might say I will keep my children safe by simply not letting them surf.   However, we are all immersed in the ocean of culture whether we like it or not.  We need to learn to ride above the waves or we will surely be destroyed by them.  Peace and grace.

I highly recommend a video in which Brett discusses these things  at  the Summit Forum.  Please consider watching. It is an hour long and well worth the investment of time. (Click Here)

The Value of Latin in Schools

Posted by on September 28, 2017

A Case for Cases: The Value of Latin in Classical Christian Schools

by MaryLou Dovan

Why Latin?

Classical Christian educators are frequently asked the question: Why Latin?  The importance of bilingualism is at an all time high.  Shouldn’t we focus on Spanish or Chinese rather than dedicate time to studying a dead language?  

Language is Important

The first step to answering this question is to acknowledge the validity of learning any language at all.  To begin broadly, language is the currency of human experience.  It transforms individual thought into a common idea, providing us with belonging and shared meaning rather than isolation.  A language that is diverse in its vocabulary and complex in its ideas accomplishes at least two important things.  

Language Reflects the Values of a Culture

First, it reflects the values of a culture.  For example, in her essay “Imagination and Community”, writer and professor Marilynne Robinson notes that English has a great number of words to describe the behavior of light.  She mentions glisten, glow, glare, shimmer, shine, and sparkle among others.  English speakers haven’t collected these words because they are useful, but because of a value placed on the “aesthetic attention” of “pleasing distinctions”.

Language Reflects our Civilized Humanity

Secondly, because it is the external expression of our ability to reason and empathize, language reassures us of our humanity.  Ancients used the term “barbarian” (coming from the verb “to babble”) for outsiders with unfamiliar language, perceiving them as uncultured.  To use indistinct sounds would be to lower ourselves to the realm of the beasts, but to share language is to create belonging and develop our reasoning.

If our first language can accomplish this much, learning a second multiplies these benefits.  Speaking another language expands our sense of humanity, causing us to revel in the possibilities of unexplored perspectives.  We find that our individual experience, which then became communal through language, is actually global.  

The words we use to fit our thoughts only describe one surface of a multi-sided die.  When we enter a new culture, the sounds of the words or their shapes on our mouths conjure different images in our minds, and the ideas behind the translations may be wholly separate.  

Consider Chocolat

Consider the American idea of chocolate.  Name brands, plastic wrappers, abundance, and sweetness all come to mind.  The French word, chocolat, (like most French words to American ears) connotes luxury, something to be savored, made by an artisan rather than a factory.  

Those who speak the West African dialect of French in Ivory Coast, Africa have yet another view of chocolate.  They think of the cacao plant, long hours in the sun, and little reward, having never tasted the final product.  The word may translate back and forth on Google Translate or in a pocket dictionary, but our associations are distinct.  

We ought to wonder at these distinctions.  If this much perspective exists among a few languages on one small thing like chocolate, what do all languages have to say on the great mysteries of life like beauty, love, or the supernatural?  

Enrich Your World

Language, regardless of its geographical location or survival on a timeline, will enrich our understanding of the world, for these many perspectives do not oppose each other, but they complement one another, showing the world to be more multifaceted than we had imagined.  We cannot reduce a second language to another feather in our cap, an extension of our resume, or mere code for English; it is a gateway into another world where we lay aside our presuppositions to understand others on their own terms.  

We could apply these arguments to the study of modern languages, but as we consider our own foreign language experience in high school, how worthwhile was it, really?  Were we diligent to continue our study, or did we abandon it with our memories of the periodic table and the quadratic formula? At the time, it just seemed like a requirement to graduate high school, and we couldn’t see its value in the marketplace.  

For the majority of us (actually, about 99%*), our study of foreign language is more a vague memory than a well-maintained skill.  This is because the best modern language learning takes place by immersing ourselves in culture.  (No, not an immersion classroom.  A single teacher can immerse fifteen students as effectively as a glass of water can immerse a car).  Ancient languages, on the other hand, can only be learned in the classroom, and we ought to use the language classroom accordingly.

Is Latin Useful?

Latin Teaches Our Language

If the previous points are true, then learning Latin creates a pathway to seeing the world with Roman eyes.  Why would we want to do this?  One reason is that learning an ancient language is, for now, our most efficient means of time travel.  

It allows us direct contact with great minds like Virgil, Cicero, and Augustine without a mediator.  Here lie the foundations of Western civilization; let us access them in their fullness rather than accepting insufficient summaries and translations.  Because Latin instruction was central in the education of many English voices we esteem, familiarity with Latin also cultivates deeper understanding and greater appreciation in reading Milton, singing hymns, or studying our nation’s founding fathers (all of which, by the way, are typical expectations of a student enrolled in a classical Christian school).  Furthermore, the prevalence of Latin in its conversational era intersected with great strides in science, literature, theology, and philosophy.  

In this sense, Latin is the language of much of our cultural heritage and the foundation of the knowledge we enjoy today.  

Latin Teaches Beyond the Moment

But third graders won’t be reading The Aeneid or City of God, so how do we justify teaching Latin to young children?  While learning the fundamentals of Latin will eventually allow a child some access to these works with continued practice (C.S. Lewis was reading Latin classics by age 13), the beginning years have an immediate purpose of their own.  

If we argue against Latin because it is conversationally extinct, we ought to reject the multiplication tables, the Psalms, and the dates of history on the same grounds.  In fact, websites that mock learning without direct parallels in the “real world” are becoming increasingly popular.  One widely shared image reads, “I’m glad I learned about parallelograms instead of taxes in school.  It’s really come in handy in this parallelogram season”.  Dismissing Latin for its impracticality stems from the same attitude.  

What every parent should know is that classical Christian education is not a utilitarian one.  We teach parallelograms in order to teach spatial reasoning, to sharpen logic, and to train the affections to delight in creation’s design; parallelograms are not an end in themselves.  Likewise, Latin connects students to realities greater than themselves: the advanced in their study of Latin texts and the young in their study of Latin grammar.

Latin Nurtures Better Language Learning

As young children encounter the structure of Latin, they are also learning the system of English grammar for the first time.  Synchronizing the instruction of introductory Latin with the foundations of English grammar reinforces understanding in both.  A matrix for understanding other subjects, the study of grammar is a key that unlocks doors of expression and wisdom.  

Dorothy Sayers’ apology for Latin in her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” depends almost entirely on this argument.  She writes, “the inflected languages interpret the uninflected, whereas the uninflected are of little use in interpreting the inflected.  I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar.”  

Inflected languages like Latin do not depend on the order of words as uninflected languages like English do.  Instead, every word communicates its purpose in a sentence with a unique ending.  In this way, Latin offers a concrete approach to grammar and communication whereas the rules of English are more abstract.  Even if students do not retain their memories of the endings of various declensions, cases, and tenses in Latin, learning its specificity will affect a student’s approach to all other learning.   

Latin also complements English grammar because of its regularity.  For the most part, it follows a predictable set of rules, attuning students to nuance.  Unless we first establish a sense of normalcy, we cannot recognize exceptions.  In a postmodern culture that rejects standards and forms, Latin grammar teaches students that strict order creates complexity, beauty, and meaning; accuracy is not arbitrary.  

Latin Nurtures Sharp Communicators

Furthermore, the variety of cases and their power to communicate sharpens clarity of expression.  As complexity of thought increases, students influenced by Latin will be able to articulate their ideas.  When a student who has studied Latin uses the word “with”, for example, he may pause to specify his meaning — do I mean “alongside” or “by means of”?  Or, in a phrase like, “to the store”, English might refer to a destination (I’m going to the store), or it might imply an indirect object (I donated these items to the store”).  

Such distinctions are inherent in Latin but require precise wording in English.  A student of Latin will perceive the difference and manipulate his use of English to be as clear as possible.  As students grasp the effects of syntax and spelling, they become articulate speakers, clear writers, and careful readers of English.  Such clarity results because the highly regular rules of Latin grammar provide a means for interpreting experience.  Just as calculations in math class lead to objective answers of intangible concepts, the rules of language allow us to pull a concrete string of words out of a cloud of experience.  In this way, Latin appeals to the students who enjoy problem-solving as well as to those who are enchanted by language’s power of expression.

Latin Nurtures Strong Vocabulary

Latin also reinforces skills in English and other modern languages because it is the source of much of our vocabulary.  

Most parents (parens), even those asking, “Why Latin?” will assent (assentio) to this idea (idea).  After all, they want the benefit (beneficium) of good SAT scores.  Although recognizing (cognosco) Latin roots builds an impressive vocabulary (vocabularium), it also gives students a sense (sensus) of heritage (heres).  Many of our words are not really ours at all; they are recycled ideas that have survived (super, vivo) throughout generations (generatio) in Western civilization (civilis).  And so the roots that comprise a large (largus) percentage (per centum) of our words are not merely letters (littera), but vessels of human (humanus) history (historia).  The use of Latin in our modern (modo) languages (lingua) reminds students that words do not merely exist; everything has an origin (origo).  Speaking a language is an opportunity to participate (participo) in history and interact (inter) with the events, people, and ideas of the past.  Such a broad perspective (perspectus) humbles (humilis) the student, and thereby prepares (praeparo) him to receive his education (educatio) with more eagerness.  

We do not study Latin to claim a high score as our prize.  It is a means to receiving a far richer inheritance.  

Latin Nurtures Humility

Finally, Latin humbles students both in its simplicity and vastness.  Learning Latin as an adult forces one to be like a child, relearning the first principle of language.  At the same time, learning Latin as a child delays pride in one’s ability to reason or intuit as he faces the expanse of the unknown; the most difficult works in Latin still lie ahead of him.  

With requirements to memorize vocabulary, categorize endings, reason in translation, read ancient texts, and compose original sentences, the study of Latin touches on many modes of thought, and rarely does an individual excel in them all.  

The convergence of varied learning teaches a student to recognize his weaknesses and make adjustments in his other areas of study.  Students then learn to admit these areas of weakness, practicing patience and deferring to others.  The Latin class, then, is a place to grow character and practice virtue.

When we enroll children in a Latin class, we empower them with both heritage and expression.  In the novel Cloud Atlas which spans four centuries, author David Mitchell illustrates the evolution of language.  As he narrates the future, the vocabulary of English is quite shallow, echoing the abbreviations we use in our present-day dependence on keyboards.  

He makes a strong point: whatever language survives into the future will be a remnant of what we protect today.  Will we settle for slang words, lyrics of popular music, and hashtags, or will we delight in the storehouse of literature, philosophy, and history that has its foundation in Latin?   Latin has been a dead language for more than a thousand years, but only in the last century have we begun to doubt its relevance and remove it from the classroom.  Postmodernity trades heritage for newness, and powerful expression for images and impressions.  Are we teaching our children to merely fulfill requirements (perhaps like we did in our own foreign language study) without being changed by the material?

If students are driven by utility and performance alone, they may graduate  “Summa Cum Laude”, but sadly they will not know what these words mean.  

Mary Lou Dovan, 9th/10th Grade Spanish Instructor, Bradford Academy.  When not teaching high school Spanish, Mary Lou enjoys studying Classical Christian education at New Saint Andrews College

Students Learn Latin

*This article from The Atlantic cites a study that says only 1% of American adults are fluent in a language they studied in high school.  

2016 Patriotic Program Transcript

Posted by on May 31, 2016

The following is a transcript of the 2016 Patriotic Program.  We hope you enjoy reading through it and are encouraged!

PATRIOTIC PROGRAM 2016 TO HONOR THOSE WHO SERVED

Students entered…

  • 2nd Grade sang – All the States and Capitals of the USA
  • 6th Grade sang – Meet the 44 Presidents
  • Kindergarten recited… Thoughts on the Constitution and Freedom

K – Thoughts on the Constitution and Freedom

  • “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”  George Washington
  • “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” Patrick Henry
  • “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”  James Madison
  • “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams
  • “Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?”  Thomas Jefferson
  • Proverbs 2:6-7 – “For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.”
  • “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same.” Ronald Reagan

WELCOMING STATEMENTS (Mr. Jeff Johnston) Welcome to Bradford Academy.  Thank you for joining us this evening.  Tonight we will be sharing some of the things the students are learning through song and recitation.  AND in doing so, we want to honor those who have served in our ARMED FORCES and honor that for which they sacrificed.  SO, you Veterans among us, you are especially welcome! Let’s all stand for our NATIONAL  ANTHEM then remain standing as I will lead us in prayer.

ALL – “The Star Spangled Banner”

Mr. Johnston – We live in a day of unprecedented material blessing.  Consequently, this generation is often guilty of enjoying this good gift from God and forgetting the principles that made this country what it is.  It would be tragic to forget the great foundations and the wisdom of those who gave us this country.  Listen now to 5th grade as they share some of the things our FOUNDING FATHERS have said to us today…

5th GRADE recited… A Conversation with the Founding Fathers

  • The Founding Fathers were thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated men who had wise ideas about government and our nation.  As we celebrate our nation and those who have sacrificed to preserve our nation, it is helpful to remember some of the wisdom they valued and upon which they built our nation.
  • Mr. Adams?
  • Samuel Adams.
  • What do you have to say to the next generation?
  • If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.Samuel Adams
  • To one another: But how are we to hold on to this liberty?
  • Mr. Jefferson, you were there when they were fighting for liberty . . . didn’t you even write the Declaration of Independence? You thought liberty worth much sacrifice – do you have any advice on how to keep it?
  • “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. . .History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.Thomas Jefferson
  • You agree, Mr. Webster?
  • “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.” Noah Webster
  • Yet knowing history, the people must act to take responsibility for and protect their liberty, right? Ah, Mr. John Adams!
  • “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.John Adams
  • OK . . .study history, take responsibility for holding the government accountable, what else? Mr. Adams? Samuel Adams?”
  • “[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” Samuel Adams
  • Mr. Madison, you are considered the Father of our Constitution. What do you add?
  • “The aim of every political Constitution is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers, men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust.James Madison
  • True, is it not, Mr. Washington?
  • “It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.George Washington
  • Where is Thomas Paine? He wrote something about the work it is to keep our freedom.
  • “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”  Thomas Paine
  • Mr. Washington, you would like to add?
  • “Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country. It is . . . [the citizens] choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a Nation . . . this is the moment when the eyes of the World are turned upon them.” George Washington

RECOGNIZE VETERANS  (Mr. Jeff Johnston)

God has given us liberty and we must all work to preserve it and protect it.  One of the means by which we have been given liberty is by the SACRIFICE of those men and women of our ARMED SERVICES.  If you are among that honored number, if you have served, please stand or raise a hand, so we can all thank you.  Thank you! This next song is dedicated to you!

4th Grade played recorders “Over There

All sang “Over There

Mr. Johnston – We are thankful to all those who serve; however there is another group within that number who made the ultimate sacrifice. This next recitation is dedicated to those who never made it home.

4th Grade RecitedO Captain My Captain, By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

 

OATH of ENLISTMENT (Mr. Johnston) – I am sure every veteran had his or her own reason to enlist.  I expect for most it was for a more greater cause than a mere paycheck.  Listen to the oath sworn by each person enlisting in an armed forces…

“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

I want to make four observations about this oath…

  1. Did you notice what they swear to protect? YES, the CONSTITUTION.  Not the land, not the people, not our “interests”.  Perhaps that is because it is the CONSTITUTION, and the RULE of LAW, that is meant to protect the American people.
  1. Did you notice the caveat (or qualification) placed upon their obedience?  They will obey orders ACCORDING to the CODE of MILITARY JUSTICE.  In other words even the those who give the orders, all the way up to the president, are still accountable to the rule of law.
  1. Did you notice the time limit on this oath?  No, me neither.  All our service members, past and present stand as defenders of the PRINCIPLES embodied in the Constitution.
  1. Lastly, did you notice from where their HELP comes?  It comes from the Lord, Almighty God, the sovereign ruler of nations.  Without Him everything is a futile effort.

So, once again, to our veterans… We say thank you.  Let’s take a moment now to think about the CONSTITUTION, the very thing they have pledged to defend.  Next the students will recite the PREAMBLE followed by a few thoughts from our THIRD GRADE.

ALL STUDENTS – PREAMBLE to the US Constitution

We the People

of the United States,

in order to form a more perfect Union,

establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,

provide for the common defense,

promote the general Welfare,

and secure the Blessings of Liberty

to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the

United States of America.

3rd Grade recited – Thoughts on the Constitution

  • What is a constitution? William Paterson, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution answered that question by saying:
  • “It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty     hand      of the people, in which certain ….. fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; It contains the permanent will of the people, and is the supreme law of the land; it is paramount to the power of the legislature, and can be revoked or altered only by the authority that made it.William Paterson
  • The purpose of the Constitution is not to give people “rights”.  The framers of the Constitution considered our rights to be God-given.  However, it does protect our rights by limiting the powers of government through granting the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches specific and limited powers listed therein.
  • James Madison remarked, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced   among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could   transcend    their    legal    limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
  • Andrew Jackson later commented,“Upon this country more than any other has, in the providence of God, been cast the special guardianship of the great principle of adherence to written constitutions. If it fail here, all hope in regard to it will be extinguished.”
  • Unfortunately, we recently lost a strong defender or the CONSTITUTION.
  • Antonin Gregory Scalia, who referred to himself as an “originalist”, was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death on February 13th of this year. In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, originalism is a principle that views the Constitution’s meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment, just as the founders intended.
  • This is in direct conflict with the modern view that the Constitution is a “living document,” allowing courts to take into account the views of contemporary society.
  • Scalia often remarked, “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. Our manner of interpreting the Constitution is to begin with the text, and to give that text the meaning that it bore when it was adopted by the people.  It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
  • In Justice Scalia’s view, the Constitution was not supposed to facilitate change but to impede change to citizens’ basic fundamental rights and responsibilities. Justice Scalia abhorred “judicial activism” and believed the place for implementing change was in the legislature, where the will of the people are represented.
  • If the Constitution is to be changed, there is a process to do that called CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
  • Scalia went on to say, “As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.”
  • Though Judge Scalia was attacked by many for his views of originalism,  he commented “[H]ave the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
  • We must, as young citizens and leaders of the future, show our regard for the work of those who have gone before us by echoing their voices in the public square.  As John of Salisbury so famously said,
  • “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

(Mr. Johnston) Next the students will recite the PREAMBLE to the CONSTITUTION of the STATE of NORTH CAROLINA, another important document in the defense of our LIBERTY.  Following the PREAMBLE, our 1st graders will recite a few key points from the NC Constitution.

ALL – PREAMBLE to the NC Constitution

We, the people of the State of North Carolina,

grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations,

for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and

religious liberties,

and acknowledging our dependence upon Him

for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity,

do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, \

ordain and establish this Constitution

1st Grade – Excerpts from the NC  Constitution

  • We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
  • All power of suspending laws or the execution of laws by any authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and shall not be exercised.
  • The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.
  • All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.
  • Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.
  • Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.
  • The people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering or abolishing their Constitution and form of government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness; but every such right shall be exercised in pursuance of law and consistently with the Constitution of the United States.
  • The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.

(Mr. Johnston) We will close with two familiar songs.  The first one, THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND recognizes our unity and blessed privilege to live in this land… followed by GOD BLESS AMERICA, a song that calls out to God for His continued hand of mercy upon us.

All – This Land is Your Land

All – God Bless America

(Mr. Johnston) Prayer

Flags

Stewards of Privilege

Posted by on April 2, 2016

The Lord has given to us many blessings and those blessings should not be squandered nor taken for granted.  Instead, we ought to be faithful stewards of our blessings.  I am convinced that the greatest earthly stewardship of all parents is their children.  God has given to every parent the great privilege to love and nurture, teach and learn, laugh and sorrow alongside those unique human beings with eternal souls.  Though they often can test us, children are  a blessing as Psalm 127 reminds us.  Despite their sin and foolishness, I would rather be their dad than anything else.     Sadly, as my own children grow year by year, I am increasingly being made aware that this stewardship will quickly pass.  I will occasionally look at past Bradford yearbooks and wonder how those small kids have grown up so quickly.  These precious lives are a stewardship.Picture1

Like most parents, I want the best for my children.  Within the limits of my providential resources I am determined to give them every possible blessing I can. The hard reality is not that I want or desire the best for them, but the real challenge is learning what the best is. I have to recognize that to be a wise steward of the great privilege of children, I need to be clear what the best means.  That is where the hard work begins; that is where we need wisdom and discernment.  Knowing how to be the best steward of God’s blessing requires God’s instructions and the Spirit to guide us.

You can be sure that there are many voices speaking to us about parenting and how to raise our kids.  There are many voices claiming to be experts but at the end of the day,  I will always turn to the Word of God to teach me how to steward that great gift of children that He has placed in my charge.  Before I turn to Dr. Dobson, Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Piaget, Erickson, or any other voice, I need to listen to the inspired Word of God.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I Tim. 3:16-17

In this text the Apostle Paul was reminding his young apprentice pastor that the Bible was sufficient to equip him in everything that a godly pastor needs to accomplish.  If the Word is sufficient for EVERY GOOD WORK, and being a wise steward of our children surely qualifies as a good work, then surely the Word of God is sufficient to help us identify what is best for them.  Do we believe that?

In short I believe that every parent, myself included, needs to think through biblical principles more often and more thoroughly when it comes to our stewardship.  We are too often tossed about by every new fad, theory, or trend.  Too often, we are instructed more by our emotions, selfish desires, or fatigue.  If we want to be faithful stewards of this great privilege, we need to hear from Him who entrusted us with this stewardship.  Peace and Grace.

Low Tech Old School

Posted by on October 21, 2015

When I was a child, one of the games we  often played was floor hockey (or “street hockey” if it was outside) .  We played it at school in the gym in P.E. class, on the play ground, on the road, and even at boys’ clubs at my church.  I have distinct and unpleasant memories of the sting of the hard plastic ball and the smashing of the knuckles as we vigorously imitated the NHL players so many of the boys adored.  Of course, we played without gloves, pads, helmet, or mask (which made playing goalie very unpopular).  Never-the-less, it was a very popular past time.  In gym class, the students would be instructed to grab a stick out of the barrel of battered school issue (government approved plastic) hockey sticks.  The first thing the boys would do is start bending the blade to the chagrin of the teacher.  We all loved curved blades because it helped us control the ball better.  The curve made our wrist shots look sweeter and even seemed to help grab the ball  from opponents faster.  The benefit of the curved stick has not been lost on professional players and as such the NHL has put restrictions on the amount of curve permitted. (In the eighties a beloved player, Wendell Clark of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was known for being one of the few players who still played with a perfectly straight stick.  It allowed him to shoot and pass back handed with devastating accuracy.  He was considered “old school” but ended up Captain of the Leafs for several seasons.)

The funny thing was that despite the advantage of a curved blade, the best hockey players in our gym class were still the ones who practiced and trained.  I could work a plastic blade into some unusual u-shape but still it would not guarantee that my play was sufficient to defeat some one who knew what they were doing.

I think the curved stick in hockey can be analogous to improved or increased technology.  I am certainly in favor of technology (I’m writing this on a laptop and expecting you to read it electronically), but I don’t view technology as an educational panacea.  Adding a computer doesn’t fix educational weaknesses any more than bending my stick really made me a better hockey player.  Bending my stick just covered up some of my deficiency in skill.  I remember playing at my church against a fellow who repeatedly would flick the ball up over my stick against a wall, go around me, and pick it up again on the other side.  He used this maneuver repeatedly to my frustration and humiliation.  Perhaps I am a slow learner or I just didn’t have a mind for the game or the ability to combine moves or tactics.  A better tool did not necessarily produce a better user.

This understanding is what is behind our decision to downplay technology in the early grades at Bradford Academy.  Essentially we have wanted the students to learn the skills necessary to write or compose well before using the technological aid.  While spell check can catch some errors, the autocorrect may actually cause some unintended mistakes.  There is no replacement for knowing the skill. For example, witch which is wich? Or is it which witch is witch? You get the point. Me and my sister could never get that write. Your not going be able to catch everything.  As a matter of fact my spell check only cot one of the many previous errors in this paragraph. (How many did you catch?)

Additionally, we have wanted the students to learn to read well, think well, and create well, without aids and before they had access to the internet.  They have to learn how to discern and filter information before their exposure to information overload.   My thought is that we wouldn’t ask our children to take a sip of water from a fire hose nor should we give them unfettered access to do research online at a young age.

Technology in school has been a rallying cry for education reformers for years.  Unfortunately, there has been numerous studies demonstrating that increased spending in technology in school and increased access to broadband internet has actually correlated with a decline in math and reading scores.1  Steve Jobs himself famously avoided letting his kids have iPads and admitted, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”Oddly enough, this seems to be the trend among many high-tech executives.  The NY Times reported that many of the most influential tech CEO’s limit screen time to only 30 minutes to 2 hours on weekends and none during the week for kids under 10.  They limit their older kids to “homework only” on weekdays.  More importantly, the Times article reported, “…there is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled… rule No.1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever.”The Guardian recently reported on a similar trend in Europe.4

Again this is not to say technology is in itself wrong or dangerous, but as one tech writer put it, “Technology’s primary effect is to amplify human forces…”5 That is to say, if you already have good things in place, technology can increase its effectiveness and efficiency. However, conversely if you have poor or weak things in place, technology may also amplify those weaknesses.

So what are the tech skills we want for our students at Bradford Academy?

  • We want the students to think and problem solve well. How do we achieve that? By implementing a strong mathematics curriculum that emphasized computation in the early grades and moves into more complex abstract thinking as the students mature.
  • We want the students to think and compose written output well. How do we achieve that?  By emphasizing grammar, spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, exposure to and imitation of good writing at young ages and working towards greater complexity and excellence as the student matures.
  • We want the students to read and comprehend well. How do we achieve that?  By teaching them the importance of the written word and giving them the guidance and practice necessary to understand and discern both the obvious and subtle messages found in text.  As they grow we add the mental discipline of logic.

In all these areas we want to foster creativity and excitement.  Thankfully, we are seeing these skills growing among our students and in time we hope to add the tools that will amplify these skills.  But until then, we will persevere with paper and pen.  We will have our students do the heavy lifting by way of mental exertion in order to develop strong minds and a spirit of diligence.  Peace and grace.

1 – The False Promise of classroom Technology

2 – Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools

3 – Steve Jobs: Low Tech Parent

4 – What Tech Leaders Won’t Let Their Kids Do

5 – Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools