Thursday, February 11, 2016
Ten Daily Exercises at the Heart of 16th Century Protestant Classical Schools Johann Sturm was a highly influential German educat...
Saturday, February 6, 2016
During Black History Month, we celebrate the life and work of pivotal leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. However, few may know that before Rosa Parks, there was Rosa Young.
I recently attended a showing of The First Rosa: Teacher, Confessor, Church Planter. Produced by LCMS Communications in conjunction with LCMS Black Ministry, this 42-minute documentary gives a historical look into the life and work of Rosa Young, a strong, compassionate, determined leader who loved the Lord and valued His children.
The film depicts Young's life of service to the glory of God and her ability to enable others to have the same. Among her many accomplishments, Young taught more than 2,000 students quality, Christian education during a time when education for children of sharecroppers in the South was limited. Many of these students went on to enter professional church work as pastors and teachers because of Young's influence. Read more about her life and accomplishments here.
Young is a leader of our church body whom I deeply admire. As I watched The First Rosa and read about her story, four key leadership principles on leaving a lasting impact stand out to me.
Here's what I've learned from Rosa Young:
1. You don't have to be a pastor to make a lasting impact in the church. In fact, you don't even have to be born and raised a Lutheran! Young was born the daughter of a Methodist minister and wasn't connected to the LCMS until Booker T. Washington advised her to write the LCMS Mission Board when she was in need of financial assistance because the cotton boll weevil had brought economic hardship among the families of her students. Young wrote the board, and a partnership was born.
Furthermore, Young was an African American woman in an economically poor area of the South during the early 1900s. The odds were not exactly in her favor to create an educational powerhouse for Lutheran education. Yet, that is exactly what she did. I admire Rosa's boldness and courage to faithfully pursue the good work God had prepared in advance for her to do despite the hard realities she faced.
2. Think and live outside the box. Sometimes help and new partnerships come from unexpected places. I wonder what Young thought as she wrote the LCMS Mission Board for financial assistance. She had no ties to the LCMS or anything to give her sway. How easy would it have been for the Mission Board to blow off her letter, a letter from a non-LCMS woman down in Alabama requesting financial assistance? And yet the Mission Board took her request seriously, went down to meet Young and toured her school. They saw the work taking place and the vision Young had. As a result, they agreed to fund the school, pay Young's salary and allow her to expand her vision by opening up additional schools. All while, they took the time to train Rosa and teach her the Lutheran faith.
This is a challenge and encouragement to me to seriously consider the requests of people in need and of people with whom I have no connection. It also makes me evaluate my current network of colleagues and consider what new partnerships may be beyond my current reach just waiting to be formed.
3. Value Christian education. Young recognized the value of Christian education. Her mission from day one was to provide quality Christian education to those for whom none was available. Something I celebrate among our church body is its ongoing investment in Lutheran education. As a product of a Lutheran grade school and university, I have seen firsthand the benefits of attending Lutheran institutions and its impact on my life as a follower of Christ.
I wonder where today there are youth with limited access to quality Christian education. How can we individually and collectively help make Lutheran education a viable option for these students? How can we continue to value and invest in our existing Lutheran grade schools, high schools, universities and seminaries?
4. Value young people. Young recognized the value of young people. The film included interviews with some of her students. Now fully grown and graying themselves, many of them shared a similar story of Young seeing something inside of them they hadn't yet recognized in themselves. She inspired boys and girls almost willing them to continue their schooling and become pastors and teachers and leaders in the church.
We can learn from Young's life that the way to leave a lasting legacy is by investing in the next generation. As parents, teachers, pastors, youth workers, coaches, etc., we have the opportunity to greatly influence the next generation of youth inspiring them to grow in becoming the men and women God has created them to be. We have the opportunity to greatly influence the next generation of youth inspiring them to pursue careers in professional church work. We have the opportunity to invest in the next Rosa Youngs.
For more information on Rosa Young and the film, The First Rosa, visit https://www.lcms.org/thefirstrosa.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
NLSW 2016 – Life Together (January 24-30, 2016)
NLSW 2017 – On This Rock (January 22-28, 2017)
NLSW 2018 – It’s Still All About Jesus! (January 21-27, 2018)
NLSW 2019 – LCMS National Youth Gathering Theme TBD (January 27 – February 2, 2019)
NLSW 2020 – Theme TBD (January 26 – February 1, 2020)
NLSW 2021 – Theme TBD (January 24-30, 2021)
NLSW 2022 – LCMS National Youth Gathering Theme TBD (January 23-29, 2022)
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Howdy from Wyoming.
Since the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education is blessed with a blog built into the new website, this blog site will be repurposed and retitled.
President John Hill of the Wyoming District recently appointed me to be the new District Education Executive. This will be our new home online.
You may also visit us at http://wylcms.org/edu.html.
Here is our new theme:
- work closely with the Teachers/Educators Conference
to develop programs and professional growth opportunities for the workers;
- study and understand issues, programs, expansion efforts
related to schools in our district and assist them;
- develop knowledge and resources from Synod
and make the same available to schools
or congregations wishing to start schools within our district.
Rev. Paul J Cain
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Reposted by Friends…
Great article by Erika E. Mildred found over on CCLE.org's website:
Slowly but surely, for the past few decades, the discussion of "Classical" education has re-entered formal and informal conversation among Christian educators and parents. Lutherans as well have joined in this debate, and those in favor of implementing what Dorothy Sayers called the "lost tools of learning" have founded Classical Lutheran schools, have organized Classical Lutheran education conferences, and have chosen to homeschool their Lutheran children using Classical curricula and methodology. However, even with this growing presence, misconceptions abound, especially for those Lutherans whose exposure to Classical Lutheran education has been minimal.
Below are twelve truths about Classical Lutheran education today and what is actually taking place in our Classical Lutheran classrooms and homes all across the country.
As the subtitle of Cheryl Swope's new book Simply Classical articulates, Classical Lutheran education is truly a "beautiful education for any child." Acquiring knowledge through the application of the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) for every subject allows students of all abilities to engage in classical education. The very stages of the Trivium build confidence and increase a student's drive to dive more deeply into the subject matter. Classical Lutheran education tells children, "You can do this!" and then gives them the very tools they need to succeed. A Classical Lutheran education can help any child reach his or her full potential, not merely an artificial external standard of being "on grade level." Ironically, it was the development of the progressive model of education in the late 1890's and early 1900's in the United States that removed a Classical model of education from the lives of some students, deeming them to be better suited for trade-specific training. The best educational track became reserved for the country's best and most promising, while the remaining students were trained in skills necessary to develop an able workforce in the boom of the American Industrial Revolution. However, this tracking approach both subtly and overtly tells students that they are not all capable and deserving of a rich, well-rounded education. Classical Lutheran education says all children deserve to learn what is good, true, and beautiful, to learn each subject in a logical and orderly way using the tools of the Trivium and Quadrivium, and to develop all of their God-given abilities and talents for His glory.
While it is true that Classical Lutheran education develops a student's intellect and provides a student with all the "skills" needed for higher-level learning and the workforce, this is not the primary goal or purpose of such an education. As students develop beyond the grammar and logic stages to the rhetoric stage, the facts, figures, memorizing, and conjugating lay the groundwork for the deepest understanding of life's most essential questions from a Lutheran worldview: Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I going? How will I get there? Why is life worth living and worth living well? In Classical Lutheran education, we do not drill for its own sake nor do we drill to produce "super students"; rather, we lay the foundation of knowledge within students in order to build upon this foundation. We seek to help them learn, discover, and expound upon what it means to be human, to be Christian, to be Lutheran, to be a saved child of God, to be alive and here on this earth to serve God's purposes to those around us. As students grow from childhood into adulthood, those existential questions arise, and our students are prepared to give and defend their answers and to walk through this post-modern, relativistic world confidently and clinging to the hope we have through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
Our younger students (through 3rd or 4th grade) are equipped with minds that are eager to memorize. God designed the growing human brain to thrive on grammar-level work in the early years of life. This is why children of 1st-generation Americans will often learn English as well as their parents' native tongue more quickly than their parents and why many schools are now including foreign language in the elementary years. And, older students do not mind memorization and drill work if they are provided with sound reasons why or how the memorized information will help them or is useful. After all, these students are entering the Dialectic/Logic stage of learning, and their demand that the drills be for of some good use is valid. Classical Lutheran teachers have mastered ways to make drill work and memorization effective; chanting, clapping, actions/movement, visualization techniques, and the like all help the students achieve grammatical mastery of subjects, allowing them to transition easily into higher-level thinking activities as they develop. If teenagers and adults at a basketball game can be emotionally moved by the repetitive cheer of "You say, 'Win!' I say, 'Tonight!' Win…tonight!" then certainly our students can enjoy the drills that will propel them into academic excellence and a well-trained mind.
Teacher-led instruction (sometimes labeled "lecture" with an assumed negative connotation) is at the heart of imparting knowledge in a Classical Lutheran classroom. Classical Lutheran educators and homeschoolers believe that the teacher is the expert. Like a football coach, a piano teacher, or a pastor giving a Sunday sermon, we expect our teachers to impart knowledge to our students. To characterize this activity as tedious, sterile, or monotonous is to place these adjectival descriptions upon the teacher himself or herself. One only needs to see classrooms at our Classical Lutheran schools or homeschools to know this is not the case. We teach with chants; we teach with song; we teach with passion and excitement. Moreover, what we teach is important. We don't just have children memorize for its own sake (although this activity in and of itself is a worthy endeavor for cognitive development). We as Classical Lutheran educators know that having God's Word and faithful interpretations of that Word "imprinted on their heart," having Latin vocabulary at their disposal, having multiplication tables and unit conversions available without a calculator, and having dates and major events throughout Western Civilization traveling with them as they experience life all allow our students to fully participate in the Great Conversation, to discover what is true, good, and beautiful in God's orderly creation, and to defend their faith.
From a purely definitional sense, this statement is not a misnomer. Latin is a "dead" language, simply meaning it is a language that is no longer spoken in a region of the world today as a modern language. This is one of the chief reasons that Latin should be taught to all our students at a very young age. A dead language is fixed. It is permanent. It does not change due to the usage of modern speakers. This consistency makes it a very easy language for students to study and to understand. (Just think of all the "exceptions" English contains in spelling, usage, punctuation, grammar, and the like, and you can quickly conclude that a language that does not change can be a welcome relief to students trying to learn it.) In addition, studying the vocabulary and the grammar of Latin aids students immensely in learning English synonyms, antonyms, prefix and suffix meanings, vocabulary, and grammatical structure and syntax. It is also a language of the early Church, which allows Classical Lutheran schools and homeschools to teach the Faith to our children during language lessons. Indeed, as Cheryl Lowe says, "Latin is not dead; it is immortal!"
Like non-Classical, Lutheran counterparts, Classical Lutheran educators teach in our schools and at home because they love the children whom they serve. Classical Lutheran schools and homeschools strive to instill into our children a love of learning and a heart to see what is good, true, and beautiful in the world God created. That joy, passion, and love for learning and for education pours out of our Classical Lutheran teachers and homeschool parents on a daily basis.
Supporters of Classical education believe that students are best served when they can learn from the wisdom of those more knowledgeable and experienced than they. The Classical Lutheran educator is the expert in the subject matter itself, in the understanding of scope and sequence regarding the material and what precedes and follows it, and in the assessment of knowledge that is gained and skills that are mastered in any subject area. To put these responsibilities upon the students themselves inappropriately places a burden upon them. It can cause increasing disdain for the subject matter, place additional stress upon students (who are themselves still understanding the material) to disseminate their own knowledge to peers, and cause added conflict and tension between students as they compare themselves to each other rather than keeping their focus on doing their best with all that God has given them. The students' job at school is to learn, to be a good "disciple." The teacher's job is to teach.
The "great conversation" that occurs in our Classical Lutheran schools and homeschools is interesting, valuable, and important in its own right. Young people enjoy being successful, mastering material, and achieving goals. This is not to say that Classical Lutheran educators do not make education "come to life" for our students. Neither, however, do we apologize for the rigor and discipline that is required of our students. Moreover, we have seen students thrive within these rigorous activities, and when they find success, the price they paid makes their academic victories that much sweeter.
Classical education is nothing new. It has been revitalized and re-introduced into American Christian education. In the past several decades, Lutherans have promoted Classical education by establishing Classical Lutheran schools, providing training for educators through conferences and certification programs, and developing resources to share the vision of Classical education to other Lutherans and Christians in post-modern America. The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Educators (CCLE) was founded in 2005 and offers a summer conference each year to equip pastors, principals, teachers, and homeschool families. Currently there are 25 Classical Lutheran schools affiliated with CCLE across the country. Each year, more Lutheran schools inquire about Classical education and the possibility of retrofitting their school to a Classical curriculum. Currently, 171 Lutheran homeschool families across the country participate in the CCLE Email Discussion Group.
The Seven Liberal Arts of Western Culture can be found within the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy). While the Trivium deals with the study and art of verbal language, the Quadrivium applies study to the theory and language of numbers: numbers in space, numbers in time, and numbers in space and time (to paraphrase Boethius). The Quadrivium plays an important role in our Classical Lutheran schools and homeschools as well, helping children think linearly, analytically, and creatively.
Classical education is the education of Socrates, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Luther, Galileo, our country's founding fathers, and many other great minds throughout the history of Western Civilization. It is a way of teaching that has been tested to determine its ultimate value to the individual and to society.
With the help of established Classical Lutheran schools, the CCLE, and Lutheran homeschool families, any Lutheran school can make the transition into a Classical curriculum and methodology. It will take work on the part of the pastor, principal, teachers, parents, and students, but the results from this change in educational philosophy and pedagogy will far outweigh the labors to transition the school into a Classical one. We believe this is the future of Lutheran education in America! The major pitfalls facing all of our American schools (students' failing to meet minimum standards, the minimization of the fine arts, student apathy, teaching of assertions such as evolution, and the removal of God from our schools and communities) can all be addressed with Classical Lutheran education.
Whether you are a principal of a Lutheran grade school, a pastor of a Lutheran church, a Lutheran teacher, or an interested parent, we encourage you to join us in the "great conversation." Here are some ways to get started:
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Owen Strachan recently made some interesting observations about the relationship between classical education and freedom. And, while the original post seems to be experiencing some technical difficulties, Dr. Gene Edward Veith has reposted it for us on his own blog, Cranach. Thanks to you both, gentlemen!
By Owen Strachan, originally in The American Spectator:
Thursday, September 5, 2013
by Stephen Richard Turley
The emergence of classical Christian education over the last few decades has thrown into relief the question of the relationship between public education and Christian witness. With ninety-percent of children in the U.S. attending public schools, the modern pulpit appears generally indifferent on the issue of private vs. public education for its parishioners; indeed, one might say pastors are generally supportive of public education. Perhaps the most common rationale for such support is that Christian students have the opportunity–indeed, the obligation–to be "salt and light", to be "in but not of' the world". But what does a faithful Christian witness in public life demand of us when it comes to schooling?
It is essential to understand that the public-private school dichotomy which prevails in our social arrangements and discourse is extremely misleading. This is because all education is public: all education seeks to cultivate within students an appreciation of shared values that constitute the common good of a community. There is simply no such thing as an education that is entirely private. There is, however, education that is coercively funded and non-coercively funded; an education system that depends on the compulsory nature of the state versus one that depends on the voluntary tuition paid by willing participants. The real question, then, that emerges is not whether we are going to support public education, but whether we are going to support the kind of public promoted by state-financed education.
In a word, the defining attribute of that public order perpetuated by state-funded education is secular. It is claimed that a secular society is one that neither favors not discriminates against any particular religion. Religion and politics simply do not mix in a modern secular society. While variant religions remain highly significant for people, this significance is maintained and expressed in the private sphere of life. By privatizing faith, it is suggested that all peoples are able to participate equally in economic, political, and sociological life without religious discrimination. And tax-funded schools, as an extension of this vision of the public, have carved out neutral space so as to allow people of all religions to come together and learn facts and data common to everyone.
Now, this certainly sounds reasonable. The public promoted and perpetuated by the secular state neither favors nor discriminates against any particular religion. But what if it turns out that it was in fact the secular state that redefined religion this way? What if our understanding of faith and religion as that which belongs in one's private life rather than in the public square is itself the social invention of the secular state? What if religion has been redefined by the very institution that claims to "protect" it?
In contrast to our modern religious sensibilities, classical Christianity understood the church as offering to the world an alternative public distinct from that offered by the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. The church was a civilization, the city-state of the New Jerusalem. In fact, Augustine goes so far as to call the church a 'republic' in his City of God. Indeed, the term ekklesia, the Greek word for 'church', was not what we would call today a 'religious term' such as thiasos (worship of a particular deity); ekklesia was in fact a political term that designated the assembly of adult citizen males who had the ultimate decision making power in a city-state. Hence, the gospel was not a promise of personal and private salvation; the gospel was instead a declaration announcing that the entire cosmos has been incorporated into Christ's transformative life, death, and resurrection, which was expressed in shared life: mutuality, self-giving, and fellowship. As such, the 'truth of the gospel' was considered a thoroughly public truth. Truth was not merely personal persuasion; truth was in fact a revelation of reality which was socially recognized as absolute and unquestionable.
By the third-century, educational institutions were considered integral to this public witness of the church. In cities such as Alexandria and Antioch, Christian education adopted the frames of reference of classical education which sought to cultivate within the student a sense of what classical scholars call 'cosmic piety': every person born into the world is born into a world of divine obligation. Classical education thus sought to instill within students the transcendent values embedded in the created order, namely, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful as they configured around Christ the Logos. It was believed that by embodying these cosmic values, students cultivated a virtuous soul. Classical Christian education was therefore a project by which the student was initiated into a public order that materialized or substantiated a cosmic piety, which in turn enabled the student to fulfill his or her divine purpose and thereby become truly human. This vision of education remained normative up to the end of the nineteenth-century.
However, by the beginning of the twentieth-century, things had changed rather dramatically. A few centuries earlier, the Treaty of Westphalia in effect consigned the church to an organ of the state, which concentrated unprecedented power around local regents. As nation-states started to emerge in Europe, the burden on universities was to produce more civil servants than clergy, a process that Perry Glanzer has labeled the "nationalization of the universities". This transformation of the university into a servant of the nation-state led to a redefinition of knowledge that privileged science at the exclusion of the church. Consequently, there emerged a whole new definition of religion: religion was no longer a public expression of cosmic piety and social obligation. Instead, religion was simply something that one personally believed but could not know; it was that by which one cultivated a sense of private meaning and existential satisfaction, but religion had no public, that is objective, value at all.
With the advent of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth-century and social democracies throughout Europe after World War I, there is in effect a massive recalibration of the totality of social and economic life around the state. And it is here that secularism plays a key role, for it is through secularization that the state is able to perpetuate and protect its monopolization over the public square. And the primary mechanism by which such monopolization is maintained is the redefinition of religion and the consequent marginalization of the church to the private sphere of life. The state effectively marginalizes the church (or any other competing vision of the public) by re-inventing our conception of faith and religion in accordance with secular norms: faith and religion are little more than instrumental means by which individuals find personal meaning and purpose for their lives.
Hence, the role of education in a public defined by secular norms is to maintain the state's monopolization over the public square by perpetuating a dichotomy between the public and the private, science and religion, fact and faith, knowledge and belief; in short, state-funded education perpetuates and promotes the secularization of society. It is this public-private dichotomy that is profoundly detrimental to the witness of the church, for it in effect denies the church its distinctly public witness. The church's unique vision for a humane society is reduced to merely one of innumerable options for private recreation: yoga class on Saturday, youth group on Sunday. Because the church has been consigned to private belief rather than public knowledge, it has been stripped of the distinctly public frames of reference by which its truth claims are demonstrated to be more trustworthy than any other competing private belief. Consequentially, objective Christian commitments embodied in the shared life of the church collapse, and the integrity of the gospel is inexorably compromised. Hence, the practice of being "salt and light" is reduced to little more than anecdotes of personal persuasion.
Moreover, by insisting upon this dichotomy between science and religion, modern education must by definition turn students away from the classical vision of cosmic piety, cutting them off from encountering the cosmic values of the True, Good, and Beautiful. Indeed, today, both in our schools and wider society, the True, Good, and Beautiful are now whatever one wants them to be. There is simply no divine obligation apart from that which each person chooses to impose upon his or herself.
If Christians are to remain faithful to the biblical gospel, we must once again affirm the public witness of the church, particularly in the field of education. For such an affirmation not only awakens the soul to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, but in embodying the Truth, it exposes the state-financed educational system which denies Truth as what it is: a lie. We cannot teach our students that Truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest; we can't claim that the Good has been replaced by situational ethics and expect Wall Street executives to ground their business decisions in anything other than profit, greed, and expediency; and we cannot relegate Beauty to personal preference and then feign shock when we encounter a urinal as part of an art exhibit.
Christians will never expose this lie as long as they support and fund it. Classical Christian education offers nothing less than a parallel public, a revelation of Truth that in its social splendor awakens wonder and awe in teacher and student alike, as together they fellowship in Him who is the divine renewal of all things.
Books on the topic and people related to this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.
Stephen Richard Turley (Ph.D., Durham University) is a faculty member at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, DE, where he teaches Theology, Greek, and Rhetoric, and Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University. He lectures at universities, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His research and writings have appeared in such journals as Christianity and Literature, Calvin Theological Journal, First Things, Touchstone, and The Chesterton Review.