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, articles, podcasts, and “best practice” tips from fellow travelers on this journey toward “lives well-lived”.
The Classical Parent
You may be thinking, “We covered the `M’ with mathematics, and the `S’ is for science, but there’s no `L’ for logic in STEM; and, where’s the technology and engineering at Trinitas? The short answer is that a rigorous education in math, science, and logic, along with an in-depth study of languages, prepares our students exceptionally well for advanced study and work in STEM fields. A substantial number of our graduates are currently studying or working in the areas of biology, neuroscience, medicine, computer science, and engineering. Continue reading to understand why.
Simply put, the study of logic prepares our students for STEM because it is the study of reasoning itself. Logic is foundational and so especially valuable for subjects that make use of arguments and problem-solving like mathematics, computer science, engineering, and philosophy, but it is beneficial for nearly any subject because it teaches students to understand the relationship of ideas–how to define and classify terms with precision, how to draw inferences and test hypotheses, how to properly get from premises or assumptions to conclusions, and how to determine which arguments are valid and sound and which arguments are weak, muddled, or fallacious. Studying logic develops students’ minds so they are capable of more and more complex chains of reasoning and better able to discern truth from falsehood.
In this post, we continue our discussion of STEM subjects with a look at Trinitas science education. Throughout their study of the world that God created “good,” our students are encouraged in their wonder at His amazing creativity and overflowing generosity. They are encouraged to expand their understanding of that world with a program of study rooted in the scientific tradition–a tradition that is inquiry-based and very “hands-on.” Trinitas students don’t just listen to lectures or read about science, they do science.
Students begin by thinking about what they know about a given topic. Then they are given the opportunity for hands-on exploration. They go on nature walks and keep notebooks for sketching. They interact with eggs and incubators, seeds and soil, batteries, wires, and bulbs, rocks and minerals, meal worms and cow eyes. By engaging in hands-on scientific inquiry, they learn to make observations, ask questions, experiment, develop theories, make predictions, collect and analyze data, and communicate and discuss their ideas. They also learn to be able to give up what may have been naïve theories and to apply their more advanced knowledge to new contexts and real-life situations. They build creative, analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills in the process.
As part of our discussion of STEM subjects at Trinitas, we are including this post on building digital trust. In a recent interview, Chris McKenna, founder of Protect Young Eyes, outlined five parts of what he calls the “Digital Trust Framework”: Copy Me, Co-Play, Curiosity, Communication, and Coaching. The interview is filled with much food for thought and practice. As you listen, consider how the five ways of approaching technology with our children are actually good ways of approaching anything with them.
- We build credibility and authority if we live so that our kids can copy us in all that we do.
- We build affection and discernment if we co-play with them and take an interest in the things that interest them.
- If we have a posture of curiosity, we build an environment of grace over one of condemnation.
- We build intimacy and a love of truth if we are good communicators, talking early and often with our children about important, and non-important, things.
- Finally, like good coaches, we bring out the best in our kids when the endgame is not controlling them and their environment, but rather equipping them to make God-honoring choices.
To hear Chris McKenna discuss these principles of parenting as they apply to the digital world, click this link: https://basecamplive.com/chris-mckenna-on-why-parental-controls-dont-work/.
In this post, we look at the third “R” of education: ‘Rithmetic. In our next post, we’ll include a discussion of science and logic at Trinitas to complete the picture of how our classical school measures up in the area of STEM. At the outset, we should be honest that classical schools may often be thought of as great books programs or humanities schools. From the time of its founding in 2006, however, Trinitas was committed to providing our students an excellent education in the sciences. Not content to simply adopt the curricula many classical schools were already using, we were somewhat “cutting edge” for classical, and even non-classical, schools.* We think our math and science programs map nicely onto the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages of the Trivium.
When choosing a math curriculum, it seemed to make some sense to find out what the best students in the world are using. Math students in Singapore are consistently at the top of The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). These students use the Primary Mathematics Series (otherwise known as Singapore Math). Lest we commit a logical fallacy, we won’t assume that simply using the same curriculum will produce the same results (there are very likely multiple factors at work), but it is probably fair to be optimistic about the possibilities. When we examined Singapore math pilot studies in the US, we found that students were, on average, a grade ahead of their peers. And, they liked math more. We’ve found this to be true of our math students as well over the last fifteen years—they are typically advanced in math, do very well on standardized tests, and go on to honors and AP math tracks in high school. And, importantly, a large percentage enjoy the subject.
We continue our series on the three “R’s” of education with a post on ‘Riting (a.k.a. “Writing”) at Trinitas in grades 5-8. In previous posts, we’ve been exploring Francis Bacon’s idea that writing makes “an exact man.” Of course, not all writing makes persons more exact (think of most social media posts), but good writing, the kind of writing we strive to teach at Trinitas, does help students learn not merely to “express themselves,” but to conform their thoughts and words more and more to the realities, the possibilities, and the promise of God’s world and the Word. What does this look like in our upper grades?
Writing in grades 5-8 builds on the strong foundation of observation, imitation, drill, and practice built in grades K-4. Writing instruction continues to be tied to literature instruction because we believe that students learn how to write well by learning how to read well. Both of these skills require learning how to listen well. Because of this, teacher and students read large portions of many of the texts, especially the difficult ones, aloud in class. And together they make observations, from the smallest details and literary devices to the largest ultimate questions about Man, his relationship to God and to Nature, and the meaning of life.
We took a break in our series on the three “R’s” of education to draw attention to our Virtue Home Connection. If you did not read that post, please do–We need you! In this post, we return to our discussion of the second “R”: ‘Riting [a.k.a.”Writing”].
In our earlier post on writing, we looked at Francis Bacon’s famous quotation: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” It is through the process of writing that one remembers, organizes, analyzes, tests, and extends observations and ideas. It is through the process of writing that one does not merely “express oneself” but one becomes more “exact,” conforming one’s thought more and more to the realities, the possibilities, and the promise of God’s world and the Word. Cultivating the skills for such writing requires intentional instruction.
An article on Trinitas was recently published on the GR Kids website. You can read it by clicking this link. Please share the link with anyone you know who might be interested in learning about classical education and what makes it different!
In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we are taking a brief break from our series on the three “R’s” of education (Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic) to talk a bit about our Virtue of the Quarter program and our Home Connection (a.k.a. We Need YOU!). We began our virtue education program a few years ago as a way to be more intentional in forming the minds and hearts of our students (and ourselves). As Aristotle observed, virtue is not an isolated action, but a habit, a repetition of certain ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. So, how can we develop habits of virtue?
Our Virtue of the Quarter begins by employing examples from Scripture, history, and literature. When training the mind and heart to love God and others, we think it essential to capture the imagination. Alternative views of the good life abound, and they can be very attractive. Secular culture bombards us with images and ideals that crowd our imaginations, engage or dull our minds, and draw our hearts. The Christian vision of virtue should outshine them all. As French writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery observed, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” While education needs rules and assignments (and ship building needs people to collect wood and perform assigned tasks), it needs more. Virtue education at Trinitas is designed to inspire the minds and motivate the hearts of our students.
After two posts on Reading, we’ve come to the second “R” of education: Riting [a.k.a. “Writing”]. Our 5th-8th grade language arts teacher is fond of the following quotation by 16th century English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man”.* In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we use Bacon’s words as inspiration for thinking more about words–those read, spoken, and written.
“Reading maketh a full man.” A “full man” is not one who has eaten too much at dinner. He is “A man whose mind is richly stored with knowledge.” A classical approach to reading–thoughtfully, deeply, and widely–increases those stores. More than that, however, if one reads edifying material, those things that St. Paul calls “true, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy,” such reading can help to fill one’s mind and heart in such a way as to make one more fully human, more fully the person God intends. Good reading not only fills one’s mind, it helps one become a better, more complete person. In other words, reading not only makes a man full, it also makes a full man.