Easier Than You Think, Yet Harder Than You Think: Teaching the Bible to Children

The Bible ought to be taught to children. This should be self-evident from a theological perspective, given that the Bible is God’s authoritative self-revelation to mankind. “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus says, “and do not hinder them.” From an educational perspective, though, we do well to ask ourselves what it means to teach the Bible in the school classroom. How might this differ from teaching in a church context or in a Christian home? What consideration do we give to the age of the child and their stage of cognitive development? The Bible is simultaneously so precious

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Why Study Western Civilization?

The classical Christian movement has at its core a commitment to teaching Western civilization. Even though we teach Western civ, its distinctive qualities are not always clear. As a result, many educators (even within the classical movement) question why we would teach Western civilization. Here I will lay out what I think are the three key pillars of Western society. My hope is that with greater clarity about what Western civilization means, there will be deeper conviction to instruct our students to promote and defend its values. So what do we mean by Western civilization? Today we equate the “West”

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Excellence Comes by Habit: Aristotle on Moral Virtue

All too often we are inclined to think of excellence as the product of good genes and good fortune rather than our personal habits. The fates bestow their blessings indiscriminately and haphazardly, and the talented and successful are the lucky recipients of excellence, while the rest of us are mired in mediocrity. Those who rise to the top, the outliers, as Malcolm Gladwell calls them, were born that way, or else became that way because of a combination of heredity, privileged upbringing and opportune circumstances. As we’ve mentioned before (Aristotle and the Growth Mindset), while the great philosopher Aristotle doesn’t

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Educating for Moral Character and Civic Duty

There was a fascinating set of papers delivered at the recent Education 20/20 Speaker Series presented by the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank addressing education policy. Living in a private school world, I have been largely out of the loop on public education policy debates. So I was intrigued to learn more about the state of the discussion. The February 12 session featured two papers. Eliot Cohen made a case for teaching history from the standpoint of patriotism as a means to promote civic and moral virtue. Yuval Levin traced the utilitarian policies of the 90s and 2000s and

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Review of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson

Most people in the classical Christian school movement look upon Dorothy Sayer’s 1947 essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” as something of a founding document. However, the movement as it currently exists in North America stems from the implementation of that essay in the late 1980s, and is best represented in Douglas Wilson’s Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (Crossway, 1991). Wilson had founded Logos School in Moscow, ID in 1981, a school that forms the backdrop to his book. Wilson would go on to help found the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) in 1993, which currently has over

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Jesus the Ideal Learner: Priestly Lessons for Education

 In a previous article on Jesus’ student-teacher relationship with John the Baptist, we mentioned that there is so much that can be learned about education from Jesus’ example. The mystery of the incarnation is packed with significance for the process of learning, human maturation and discipleship. As it says in Hebrews, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 5:8-9 ESV) The idea that Jesus “learned obedience

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Authority and Obedience in the Classroom: Reading Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education

I recently talked with a frustrated teacher about the anti-authoritarian Tendenz of her math class. The smug look of the child says everything. “You can’t tell me what to do.” This child might accomplish the set of math problems assigned, at least externally. But on the inside, there is a refusal to submit to the teacher, the assignment, or even mathematics itself. “Who even cares? I don’t even plan to get a job in mathematics,” says the child under his breath to the amusement of a classmate. The spirit of revolution is in the air. Down with the king and

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Renaissance Education: Looking to the Past to Chart a Course for Education Today

Education in the Renaissance centered around a rediscovery of lost ideas leading to a rebirth of civilization. Looking back to Renaissance education provides insight into our own age as we reclaim the great texts and ideas lost over the past decades through waves of progressive educational reform. Rediscovering a World of Ideas Prior to the age of exploration, exploding into life after Columbus’s westward journey across the Atlantic in 1492, a different exploration of an unknown world occurred after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. For well over a millennium, the Byzantine empire was the eastern stronghold of Christendom, paralleling

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Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination can be debilitating for teachers and students alike. We often treat procrastination as either a mental issue or a time-management issue. I was inspired by Jason’s series on self-control, especially his latest article on attention and willpower. I think learning more about procrastination ties right into his ideas. However Tim Pychyl in his book Solving the Procrastination Puzzle suggests that procrastination is actually an emotional issue. In this article we’ll explore some strategies to help us and our students overcome procrastination. What is Procrastination? Why do today what can be done tomorrow? That is the mantra of procrastination. A popular video by

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Educating for Self-control, Part 2: The Link Between Attention and Willpower

In my last post on educating for self-control, I laid out a Christian case for the importance of self-control from the New Testament, citing Paul’s famous fruit of the Spirit and Peter’s not-as-famous virtue list in the first chapter of 2 Peter. Then we delved into the roots of self-control as a concept deriving from early Greek philosophers, before turning to what it might look like to develop a school for self-control, rethinking how our schools should be set up if supporting self-control is a chief goal. In particular, we referenced the British educator Charlotte Mason, as she discussed “the

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