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The Classical Parent


CCE Corner – Made for Love, part II

January 27th, 2022 by Becca Tellinghuisen

In our previous post, we encouraged our readers to listen to a reflection on Canto 17 of Dante’s Purgatorio. In this post, we draw your attention to Canto 18.* Here, Dr. Steve Boyer examines the moral psychology of love. He takes us on a journey inside the soul from attraction through imagination to inclination to quest. If one’s reason does not actively stand guard in the face of temptation, Dr. Boyer observes, the soul finds itself captive to worldly passions. If you do not listen to his 12-minute reflection, do at least hear Dr. Boyer‘s words about the dangers of distraction:

“Time is love. What you do with your time shows what you really love. And it ultimately becomes what you love. So, don’t be content with mere entertainment. Don’t doze off. Wake up! What are you giving yourself to?”

*Again, even if you have not been reading Dante’s Comedy or listening to the lectures, this is worth a listen! We recommend parents listen first, before sharing with their student, as not all content may be appropriate.

CCE Corner – Made for Love, part I

January 18th, 2022 by Becca Tellinghuisen

Let’s play a guessing game. Who said, “Let your pleasure be your guide”? The ancient philosopher Epicurus? The utilitarian John Stuart Mill? Beyonce? Here’s a clue: The words are from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Surely, you may be thinking, they must be the words of some shade or devil in Hell, designed to lead Dante the pilgrim astray down some hedonistic path. Would you be surprised to know that Dante’s trusted guide Virgil speaks those words to him at the top of Mount Purgatory? Listen to Dr. Brian Williams’ thirteen-minute reflection on Purgatorio, Canto 17 * to find out more about what Dr. Williams calls “sanctified hedonism” and the impact what we read (and watch and listen to) has on our lives. We were made for love. Are our loves becoming properly ordered so that we find pleasure in the right things and in the right way? Or are our loves becoming disordered?

*Even if you have not been reading Dante’s Comedy or listening to the lectures, this is worth a listen! We recommend parents listen first, before sharing with their child, as not all content may be appropriate.

CCE Corner – Persuasion with a Purpose

January 9th, 2022 by Becca Tellinghuisen

One goal we have as a classical school is to build student skills in rhetoric–the art of effective, persuasive, even beautiful, speaking or writing. As a Christian classical school, we intend to produce no Sophists; this goal has a higher purpose–for students to be well-equipped to “give a reason for the hope that is in you.” (I Peter 3:15) If you did not have the chance to read our post before the break, you can read about how our annual Speech Meet not only builds confidence in public speaking but also helps us delight in God and his good gifts.

Click here to read the the most recent CCE Corner.

CCE Corner – Nursery Rhymes to Shakespeare: Our Annual Speech Meet

December 16th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

We recently held our sixteenth annual Speech Meet. While the event is a highlight for many, a few students, especially those who dread the spotlight, may wonder why this is imposed upon them each fall. A short answer is that we’re a classical school, and classical schools do things like make students get up in front of people and speak. We think it’s good for them. The Speech Meet, like Bible memory, science presentations, history reports, book club discussions, Latin at Lunchtime, and Reader’s Theater, helps build skills in rhetoric—the art of effective, persuasive, even beautiful, speaking or writing. Skills in rhetoric are something classical schools value. We value growth that comes from hard work. We value the moral imagination.

It takes hard work and perseverance to select a piece, memorize it, and polish it to the point of public presentation. For those of us who have been around for a while, it is a joy to see students grow over the years, some of them from leaning against the classroom whiteboard, fidgeting, mumbling, and forgetting their lines to confidently addressing the entire school and guests with poise and delight.

In early fall, many students (and sometimes their parents) embark on a mini literary adventure, pouring over poems and Scripture and speeches. In the process of making and interpreting their own selection and in listening to fellow student selections, they gain an appreciation for the vast range of expression in the literary landscape. We invite you on this journey and ask you to imagine briefly our students reading, reciting, listening to, and thinking about this year’s speeches.

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CCE Corner – Lives of Faith, Reason, and Virtue: Dante

November 14th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

As we continue the discussion of our new tagline, “cultivating lives of faith, reason, and virtue,” we’d like to draw attention again to our 100 Days of Dante reading group. It’s not too late to join!* Dante begins The Divine Comedy with these words: “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wilderness, for I had wandered from the straight and true.” Dante’s epic poem is a profound picture of the life of faith, reason, and virtue as a journey from that dark wilderness to heavenly light. As Dr. Brian Williams observes in his reflections on Canto 6, such a life is a turning from earthly vices to heavenly rewards; a journey in which our intellect, affections and wills become “upright, wholesome, and free.” Dante and Dr. Williams draw a profound contrast between a life of “mud pies, cold rain, and eternal emptiness” and one of “living water, warm bread, and nourishing wine freely offered at our Lord’s table.” We hope Trinitas helps students see that contrast too. Even if you haven’t been reading Dante, Dr. Williams’ twelve-minute reflection on Canto 6 of Inferno is well worth a listen!

*You can still sign up for 100 Days of Dante. We are looking forward to our first discussion group on Friday, December 3, at 7:00 p.m. We’d love to have you join us! The videos and readings are short. If you would like to watch or listen to what you have missed, you can search YouTube–just type “inferno canto [#]” and you should be able to find any of the videos that have been posted by Baylor Honors College’s Dante project.

Welcome to the Classical Christian Education Corner!

November 13th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

Watch for articles about classical Christian education, from the philosophical to the practical. We will include reflections on Scripture, poetry, philosophy, literature, summaries of relevant books and films, articles, podcasts, and “best practice” tips from fellow travelers on this journey toward “lives well-lived”.

CCE Corner—Discernment Continued: Squid Game

November 3rd, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

In this post, we continue our discussion of the virtue of discernment by noting that cultivating discernment requires guides. Listening to scripture and the words—spoken and written, past and present—of wise and mature Christians is necessary for us to grow in this virtue. Relying solely on our own wits is never a good idea, and when we consider how to navigate digital culture for ourselves and our children, we must recognize our utter inability to stay ahead of the digital deluge. At Trinitas we highly recommend a couple sources—Plugged In and Protect Young Eyes (PYE)—to help families make good choices regarding things to read, watch, listen to, and play.

Speaking of choices, we’re drawing your attention to the disturbingly popular show you may or may not have heard of yet—Squid Game is #1 in 90 countries. We recommend that you read reviews by PYE and Plugged In. Examples like this series and the recent TikTok “trend” of stealing and vandalizing school property to post as “trophies” make it clear that parents must be aware of what their children are viewing and doing online or even just hearing and observing from other kids being online.

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CCE Corner – Lives of Faith, Reason, and Virtue, part III

October 24th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

We concluded our previous post with the observation that a robust view of human reason will not only include virtues of intellect but virtues of character as well. One virtue that lies at the heart of this intersection is the virtue of discernment. “Discernment” comes from the Latin word discernere meaning “to see, discern, distinguish, separate.” It may be used in a variety of contexts, for example, someone with a “discerning eye” may have a knack for identifying things of particularly good quality. When we talk about discernment as a virtue necessary for human flourishing, we mean the ability to distinguish or separate good from evil. This requires two things: recognition of a standard outside of oneself and an act of the will.

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CCE Corner – Lives of Faith, Reason, and Virtue, part II

September 30th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we continue our discussion of our new tagline, “preparing students for lives of faith, reason, and virtue” with a look at “reason”. It seems obvious that a school would have the cultivation of reason as a primary goal. Isn’t that what schools are for? This goal may not be as widespread as one would think, or hope, however. Certainly, some sort of knowledge and skills are objectives for any learning environment, but classical Christian schools operate with a more robust concept of human reason—one that is informed by the view of human nature mentioned in our previous post about faith. In that discussion, we said that one principle of a classical Christian education is: “there is more to this world than what is seen” — that the material world is not all there is; and, human beings, having been created in the image and likeness of God, are not mere material beings. What implications does this have for education?

First, education is not merely instrumental. It should not be designed primarily to help students meet their material needs and desires. The cultivation of reason, while certainly of instrumental value, is a good in itself. Subjects like grammar, Latin, Greek, and classic literature, and methods like memorization, critical thinking, debate, and rhetoric, can help students achieve many things, but they also enable students to develop well their God-given capacity for and delight in reason. A comparison to the body may help to illustrate. It’s good to exercise the body so that we can do the various things we need to, but it’s also good to cultivate physical capacities simply because the body is God’s gift and he designed us to delight in its activity. Developing our minds and bodies is part of what God intended for human flourishing.

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CCE Corner – Lives of Faith, Reason, and Virtue, part I

September 16th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

When we founded Trinitas Classical School in 2006, we considered various taglines for our marketing materials. Among them were–“the education you wish you had; the education your child can have” (a sentiment true for many of us) and “Trinitas–a school without walls” (a somewhat humorous attempt to cope with our struggle to find a facility). We chose to use “preparing students for lives well-lived,” and that has been our tagline for the last fifteen years. We’ve made a shift recently though in an attempt to avoid ambiguity about what we mean by “lives well-lived.” There are, after all, a myriad of visions of what a good or the good life is. Our new tagline makes explicit what we understand a well-lived life to be–we are “preparing students for lives of faith, reason, and virtue.” A brief explication of each of these seems like a good way to begin the new school year.

That “faith” appears first in our list is no accident. The Christian faith is both our starting point and our end; it is the foundation of our curricular, extra-curricular, and cultural choices, and it is a goal for which we believe each of us was made and toward which we strive. For an understanding of faith, we could perhaps do no better than Hebrews 11, a chapter our fifth-eighth graders memorize every other year. (We encourage you to read and discuss it this week with your family.) The author begins with a definition: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders [ancients] obtained a good testimony [were commended]. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

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