A few years ago I wrote an article arguing that fidget spinners had no place in the classroom. It was a popular article, but the cost of writing a popular article is a few strongly negative responses. One blogger insisted that my hatred of fidget spinners was an attack on students with learning disabilities because—at the time—it was believed that giving distracting toys to such students would help them pay attention.
Classical Christian schools overhaul their writing programs around every three to four years. This means there is a good chance your school is overhauling their writing program this summer. Before you make any new curriculum purchases or draft new writing requirements for teachers to follow, allow me to humbly suggest you talk through the following writing program discussion guide.
I recently delivered this short talk to the elementary school teachers at Veritas School in Richmond.
Zeitgeist was originally published in Blasphemers.
(A sparsely set stage. On stage left, a dresser. In the middle of the stage, a bed. A suitcase on the bed. PHILLIP moves back and forth between the dresser and the suitcase, packing his clothes. MARTHA enters the room from stage right.)
MARTHA: (calmly, soberly) Where will you go?
PHILLIP: East. To the mountains.
Can a group project be valuable and productive? Of course. Are most group projects valuable and productive? Hardly.
It is May, which means that classical schools across the country are finalizing plans for graduation ceremonies, setting calendars for next year, determining schedules for summer school, and trying to figure out what to do with a few senior boys whose theses were laughably bad.
Every American should work in food service for a few years before marrying. So many of the virtues Americans claim come from playing team sports can be acquired far more easily working the registers at Burger King. One learns tolerance and longsuffering and humility. A man cannot truly understand how rude Americans are, how ridiculous, how entitled, until he has been paid next to nothing to serve his fellow countrymen French fries and shakes.
Student: I know how you feel about the matter, but I’m thinking about going to a secular college next year.
Gibbs: How come?
Student: I don’t want to live in a bubble. If I don’t go to a secular college, I’m worried I’ll go through my whole life without ever knowing anything about other people’s views.
Gibbs: Huh. You think college is your last chance to encounter “other people’s views”?
Student: Sort of.
Tom: It is not enough to punish crimes like theft. You have to look at the underlying causes of theft. You have to ask why people steal. Figuring out why people steal can help prevent theft in the future.
Harry: And why do people steal?
Tom: Studies show one of the biggest underlying causes of theft is poverty.
Harry: And what is the underlying cause of poverty?
Tom: Often enough, it’s racism.
Harry: And what is the underlying cause of racism?
Tom: Well, racism is simply evil.
In the last several years, agrarian metaphors (cultivating, nurturing) have come to dominate the way classical schools describe themselves. However, we have become entirely too dependent on the agrarian metaphor, which is helpful but insufficient by itself to provide a complete picture of a classical education.