April may be the cruelest month, but Summer is the most pagan of the seasons.
To begin, twenty theses on lawn mowing.
Lawn-mowing is a primary way to show respect and care for one’s neighbors, for the landscape of your yard is the view from their windows.
Being a good steward of the home God has entrusted one requires he mow his lawn, for that keeps it tidy and healthy.
The labor of mowing a lawn is labor for beauty and order.
Our replacements have arrived at the front. They have come to relieve us. We have fought, valiant and unceasing, till we no longer remember a world without fighting. But we are not finished. We must prepare these new soldiers to take over our posts, to hold the line, to push forward against the Enemy. And yet, one glance at the blush of their youth and naiveté reveals that our most dire struggle will be with them. They are not ready, and we are nearly spent. Should we not tremble for the future darkness into which we send them, ready or not?
A common theme I encounter in conversations with other home educators each spring, and often into the summer months, concerns preparation for the upcoming year. I’ve been classically homeschooling for over twenty-five years, and the liturgy of this assessing and planning season is an integral part of my own life, too—as fundamental to it as preparing for both daily needs and important yearly celebrations like Christmas and Easter.
If a basketball club has great uniforms, an inspiring mascot, a kind-hearted owner, a wise coach, loyal fans, and a tastefully designed stadium, but the players cannot get the ball to go through the hoop, the team will not win any games. In the same way, a classical school has to have classically-minded teachers.
Should students be taught what to think or how to think? Lest we think the question is new, we see the seeds of the debate emerge between the Epicureans and the Stoics— those who belief the chief good of man is found in the body and those who believe his chief good is found in the soul.
Our scene is a high school acting class in late November. Twenty-nine students sit at their desks, all watching a thirtieth who walks up to the front of the room to rehearse a monologue. She is to recite a two-minute passage from Wuthering Heights. The part has been well researched: the actress has a good grasp on the plot of the book and the monologue’s place within the story. She understands the action of the scene and she sympathizes with her character emotionally. Everyone in the room is excited, as the actress has some talent and has been fun to watch in previous scenes.
Around thirty years ago, a movement began to restore classical education in American elementary schools and high schools. The first stage of the restoration of classical education was the recovery of classical texts. Around fifteen years ago, the second stage undertook the recovery of classical pedagogy. Today, I believe a third stage is underway. We have begun the recovery of classical assessment, grading, and class management.
Amongst the greatest gifts a classical school can bestow upon its students is the opportunity to become skilled in the use of words.
It’s May, and the world is finally awake. The campus of EDUCRAT STATE hums like a hive. Outside the dormitory, the day is all daffodils and spring zephyrs, but inside 303 WEST HALL a storm-cloud of academic fear brews. Dreading an impending final in literature, sophomore Joe Schmo peruses a SparkNotes article on Herman Melville’s classic whaling adventure. Travelling through time to rescue Joe from this perilous, ethical fog, Socrates materializes on the couch—quite unexpectedly.
SOCRATES: Hey, Joe. What are you up to?