Given the sorry state of American public schools, it is not surprising that many classical Christian schools use words like “excellence” and “mastery” to describe their goals for students. The school that aims to graduate students with “mastery” over their subjects will obviously not be content with seniors who have only attained an 8th grade reading level.
Not every book is as easy to understand as Pride & Prejudice.
Logic figures heavily into a classical Christian education and no small portion of informal logic books is concerned with the subject of authority; however, ever since the French Revolution, Christians have been profoundly confused on the nature of authority. While the “appeal to false authority” is a widely recognized logical fallacy, a good number of modern Christians have followed modern secularists in the belief that every claim of authority is false.
Gibbs: I was hoping we could talk about the music you were playing in your classroom this morning.
Teacher: Of course.
Gibbs: Do you think it is appropriate to play that kind of music at a classical Christian school?
Teacher: I was playing Christian music.
Gibbs: You were playing pop Christian music.
Teacher: Why is it inappropriate to play Christian music at a Christian school?
A tale of two teachers.
Vinegar. On the second day of class, Margot forgot her math book. Her teacher Miss Thomas realized this immediately and asked, “Margot, where is your book?” Margot said she had forgotten it. Miss Thomas said, “Well, try to remember it tomorrow,” and then told Margot’s partner to share with her.
What I learned from John Milton, master psychologist.
Student: It’s one in the morning. I’m never going to commit all these formulas to memory.
Satan: That’s true.
Student: I’m going to fail the geometry test tomorrow.
Satan: That’s not necessarily true.
Student: What do you mean?
Satan: Just enter the formulas into your watch. During the test, check your watch if you need to.
Student: But that would be cheating.
When I am offered a hand to shake, I shake it. Granted, only a few close friends still present their hands for shaking, but I wouldn’t turn down the hand of a stranger, either. I didn’t know how much I liked handshakes until people began offering me their elbows back in March— which I found odd at first, but now find genuinely dispiriting. I say this not to shame anyone who has offered me an elbow in the last six months, because a number of kind and generous people have good-naturedly presented me an elbow to bump since the pandemic began. They meant well, I know.
As the father of a fourth grader and a sixth grader, I have learned to take the reports my children offer about school with a grain of salt. Occasionally, my children lie. At other times, they embellish and exaggerate. They do a slapdash job paraphrasing the words of others. They add details and nuances they wish were true. Their summaries often leave out significant facts.
Parent: How was school?
Student: Fine. How was your day?
Parent: Fine. What happened at school?
Student: Subjects, lunch. Same stuff that happens every day.
Parent: You always give rather vague answers when I ask about school.
Student: That’s because the questions you ask are rather vague.
Parent: I asked what happened at school. How is that vague?
Student: I answered, didn’t I? Subjects, lunch.
Parent: A two-word answer?
Student: For a four-word question.
The kind of mistakes you make in your first year of teaching are almost entirely unavoidable. Fate decrees that every rookie teacher must stick his foot in his mouth a dozen times, get accustomed to the taste of crow, and often remark to himself angrily, “Won’t do that again.” Such moments endear a man to his profession, though, because they show him that teaching is not merely the transfer of knowledge from one brain to another, but a ballet which requires academic, social, and psychological acumen.