Recently, under pressure from budget shortfalls, a University of Wisconsin campus approved a plan to cut thirteen academic majors, including English Literature, Philosophy, and History in favor of programs with “high-demand career paths.” Funds will be redirected to “career-ready” programs such as business, chemical engineering, computer information systems, law enforcement, fire science, and graphic design. The plan was proposed after a Republican legislature voted to eliminate tenure in 2015, thus leaving degree programs vulnerable to cuts.
Recently, I taught a unit on dragon stories in literature to my elementary students. To launch the series, I read Revelation 12 aloud in class, which is a marvelous tale of a red dragon who pursues the Queen of Heaven into the desert to devour her child, but is thwarted by creation rising up against him. The students gazed wide-eyed at the masterfully woven images, narrative, and language. When I told them that the fantastical tale was from the Bible, they gasped. One young man stammered, “Wow, I didn’t know the Bible told stories like that!”
It is December and the year is waning. The calendar year fades away with its annual decline, while the liturgical year renews itself again in Advent. I don't know about you, but I delight in fresh starts, as long as I carry into the that new beginning a unified vision and the practices to support it.
In response to a student petition, the Yale University English faculty recently voted to “decolonize the English department” by rearranging their course requirements to minimize exposure to, among others, Shakespeare and Chaucer. New course requirements mandate that undergraduate students choose three out of four core courses, in which only one includes Chaucer and Shakespeare, while another includes Milton.
As I embark upon another school year, I often meditate on the internal images that shape how I experience my vocation. For many educators, it is helpful to keep a meaningful image in mind for the purpose of re-orienting ourselves to the immense value of what we do on a daily basis to nourish the image of God in our students. Images pack a powerful punch.
Do you ever have those conversations that rankle in your memory? Several months ago a fellow homeschool mom inquired about my writing. I told her how much I enjoyed writing and that I was looking forward to some projects approaching. She replied, “Well, that sounds nice. Maybe you will soon have time to develop into a more practical writer that can actually help people. I just want somebody to tell me what to do.”
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I have been a Safe Teacher.
A lot has been written in recent days regarding Christian worldview analysis as relates to Christian classical education, and obviously, the thing to do in the midst of a cacophony is to chime in with another voice.
When I remember childhood summer afternoons, I remember sun and water. Wet grass squelching between my toes as I skipped through sprinklers in the yard. Chalky sunblock on my shoulders, making water bead like pearls on my skin. Wrinkled fingers and waterlogged ears from countless hours in the pool. Barefoot galumphing through mountain streams, listening to the chatter of songbirds, gazing at golden sunlight streaming through leaves.
It is said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who distill people into two kinds of people, and those who do not.