The other day, I picked up my sixth-grade daughter from school and she immediately reported that, while the teacher was not looking, a fellow student had brazenly, flagrantly broken several school rules. “Did you tell the teacher?” I asked. She said she had forgotten. “No, you didn’t,” I replied, “because it obviously bothered you quite a bit. How could you possibly forget?” The truth, which slowly came out in the conversation which followed, was that my daughter didn’t want to tell the teacher for reasons of cowardice that are common to youth, adolescence, adults, and the elderly alike.
For reasons difficult to truly grasp, fallen angels cannot be restored to God. Christians pray for their human enemies, but not for their spiritual enemies. The Church has for many centuries rejected the idea that demons will someday repent and be restored to God, thus, as St. Augustine notes in the City of God, there is no need to pray for the Devil. Likewise, we may pray for animals to recover from illnesses and injuries, but there is no need to pray for their spiritual conversion. Of all sentient beings, humans are unique in this: once spiritually broken, they can be repaired.
Most classical Christian schools in this country are ecumenical projects, which is to say they are open to students from many different church backgrounds. An ecumenical school is not an Anglican school, not a Presbyterian school, and not a Catholic school, but a school for Christians of all these traditions (and more). As with any project, an ecumenical project can be done well or poorly. A certain project is not good simply because it is ecumenical.
As a philosophy teacher, I think coaches have it pretty good. Unlike philosophy teachers, coaches never struggle to convey the importance of their work. Coaches can arrive in the middle of philosophy class and say, “It’s time to leave for the game,” and students immediately go. Philosophy can wait, sports can’t. To quit doing one thing so you can do another thing—that’s just what priority looks like. Because the work of coaches is more important than the work of teachers, coaches are allowed to speak to students passionately, realistically, and without sentimentality.
Last month, I told my sophomore humanities class, “You have written enough for me this year. Let me write something for you.” And so we hashed out a deal where, on the appointed day, the class would give me four essay prompts, I would choose one, I would have around an hour to think about what I wanted to say, and then I would have one hour to write a one-thousand-word essay in response.
How should Christians watch movies? A good answer to this question has relatively little to do with interpreting camera angles, performing worldview analysis, or looking for Christ figures and Gospel hunger. How a Christian watches a movie should depend quite a bit on how a Christian chooses what he watches. Not all movies deserve a generous audience. For some movies, turning off your brain while you watch is foolish. For others, turning off your brain is the only real way to receive all the good things the story has to offer.
For the time being, it seems there will always be a dozen classical schools on the cusp of opening in this country. The group of people intent on founding a school have innumerable tasks before them. They must find a place for the school to meet, determine the curriculum, draft a mission statement, design a logo—not to mention all the legal concerns, banking concerns, and so forth. All these issues are vital because they ensure the stability of the school. Nonetheless, whether a school can deliver a classical education to students ultimately depends on its teachers.
Student: I was wondering if we could meet at lunch sometime and talk about Jane Eyre.
Gibbs: What did you want to talk about?
Student: I just want to clarify a few things about Jane and Rochester’s relationship.
Gibbs: What did you want to clarify about their relationship?
Student: I would like some clarity on why Jane respects him so much.
Gibbs: That's the subject of the paper you're supposed to be writing.
Student: It is?
While teachers are apt to chide students about writing papers the night before, many teachers also procrastinate when it comes to grading and returning papers. Most schools have reasonable policies about how long teachers have to return student work (a week or two), but these are difficult rules to enforce, and it is not uncommon for teachers to wait until the night before a hard deadline—like when report cards come due—to begin grading a stack of papers.
The other night I woke at 2:30 and could not fall back to sleep. A certain vexing matter from work plagued my thoughts, so I decided to distract myself with a different intellectual project: I tried to chronologically reconstruct every important thing that happened to me between 2000 and 2006. For the first half an hour I had very little luck. I could recall a few significant events, but I could not place them in order. Then one very vivid memory unlocked my whole project.