The Classical Parent


CCE Corner – Writing at Trinitas, Grades 5-8

March 19th, 2021

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.

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CCE Corner – Writing at Trinitas, Gr. K-4

March 4th, 2021

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.

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CCE Corner – Trinitas Featured on GR Kids

March 1st, 2021

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!

CCE Corner – Virtue of the Quarter and the Home Connection (We Need YOU!)

February 4th, 2021

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.

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CCE Corner – Writing

January 21st, 2021

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.

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CCE Corner – Reading, Part II

January 7th, 2021

We recently began a series on the three R’s of education. In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we continue our discussion of Reading. In our last post, we looked briefly at Who should read, and Why, When, Where, and What to read. Now we turn to the question of How we should read. A classical answer to this question is: thoughtfully, deeply, and widely.

The idea can be illustrated with a contrast. When we started Trinitas, Accelerated Reader (AR) was a popular reading program in many schools. Students read from AR’s library of pre-classified or ranked books. They choose books in their “zone of proximal development,” i.e., books that are not too hard nor too easy. When they finish reading, they take short multiple-choice quizzes to earn points and rewards. It is an efficient and simple system. Its name, Accelerated Reader, is revealing of its goal. Trinitas began our Thoughtful Reader Book Club (TR) with intentional contrast to AR. We felt that racing through books to earn points and rewards may produce accelerated readers, but we worried it would not produce thoughtful readers. So, our book club encourages students to read from a list of classic good and great books on their own and with their families. Together, we dive into one of the books for activities and discussions of deeper themes. (We sent home information about this year’s Thoughtful Reader Book Club just before Christmas. It’s not too late to join!)

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CCE Corner – Reading

December 10th, 2020

In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we begin a series on the three R’s of education: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic. We look at the first R through the five W’s and one H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. We’ll take these out of standard order, answering the easier ones first.

Who should read? A quick answer to that question is: Everyone who is capable of it. Why should everyone who is capable of it read? One reason is that God has given us an awe-inspiring, diverse world to explore, and reading is a very good way to discover, understand, and grow in love for creation and its Creator. In short, reading makes one’s world, one’s mind, and one’s heart bigger. There is also the fact that reading, as a form of self-education, is advantageous in nearly any area—professional or personal. And, during this pandemic, we might especially appreciate the aphorism that “reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” Reading can provide adventure as well as solace. It can provide companionship in isolation. “We read,” said C.S. Lewis, “to know we are not alone.” There are, of course, many other reasons to read. Part of the fun of reading is discovering more reasons for reading.

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CCE Corner – Practicing Perseverance

November 19th, 2020

Our previous Classical Christian Education Corner took a historical/philosophical look at the virtue of perseverance. In the Christian tradition, one of the ways we become the new creations God intends and show our love for Him and others is by being diligent in our tasks. Perseverance has more recently become a hot topic in academic and popular psychology, with a different emphasis than the Christian version. U Penn psychology professor Angela Duckworth may be credited with some of the excitement. Duckworth was awarded a MacArthur “Genius Grant” and has a TED talk on the concept of “grit.” She defines grit as the ability to stick to long-term goals and the ability to keep going despite adversity. Her research has led her to conclude that grit, or we could call it perseverance, is more important in determining achievement than intelligence, talent, quality of instruction, family life, or income. Whether we are inclined to frame this virtue in the context of the demands of love or the desire for achievement, or both, we are still left with the question: How do we get better at persevering?

The classical answer is, of course, practice. This may seem less than helpful when you find yourself tempted to give up on something—it’s a little like someone just saying “Don’t give up” or “Persevere in persevering.” If we think about the problem from a few different angles, however, we may come up with some ideas to help put perseverance into practice.

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CCE Corner – Perseverance

November 8th, 2020

Many of us are feeling some fatigue. The Coronavirus has brought significant losses to many and has made nearly everything we do or would like to do more difficult or even impossible. When this CCE Corner is posted, we may not yet know who will be president in 2021. Even when we do know the results of the election, we may still feel fatigued by this long and tiring political season. Along with this, we face cultural upheaval which gives every indication of continuing. Speaking around the time of the birth of our nation, Samuel Adams observed: “The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance.” The same is true today, and so, as we begin the second quarter, we turn our focus to the virtue of perseverance.

The idea of perseverance may bring to mind images of an athlete training, a musician practicing, a farmer plowing his field, or soldiers courageously performing their duty, or it may bring to mind the simple childhood poem, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…” The verb “persevere” comes from the Latin “perseverare” which means “continue steadfastly, persist” so all of these images seem appropriate, but there is an even deeper meaning found within the classical Christian tradition. Christian writers often used a synonym for perseverance–“diligence”. The Latin root for diligence is “diligere” which means to respect or esteem, to love. It may sound strange, but perseverance or diligence is not merely staying the course or gutting it out, it is an expression of love.

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CCE Corner – Putting Compassion into Practice

October 22nd, 2020

In our last CCEC, we said that a tenet of classical Christianity is that God’s perfect self-giving love perfects our human nature. His love restores our nature to its original design and enables us, through grace, to love God and our neighbor. We observed that practicing the virtue of compassion requires us to begin with prayer (even for our enemies) and with accepting God’s own gift of love. What might be some next steps for developing the virtue of compassion?

St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Augustine, thought about compassion as a virtue having two parts: an affective part (heartfelt sympathy) and an effective part (an act of the will to relieve another’s suffering). So how can we develop both of these?

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