Today we began by hearing from a local pastor, Jim Holland. His two-fold purpose was to build a case from scripture against works righteousness and then apply it to the classroom. He used the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but presented it in a manner that I had not considered before as the Parable of the Two Sons.The Prodigal or Younger Son we are all familiar with, and was not the focus of his message. The older or Proud Son was the focus. He noted that Christ told this in the context of two groups of people, the sinners/publicans who were gathered about him (to which the Prodigal was appropriate) and the Pharisees (for whom the Proud Son was directed). He noted that the Older Son’s issue was that he had stayed at home, done what God directed, and therefore felt angry when the Prodigal was welcomed back as he was. Many evangelicals today stuggle with thinking that their superior works, theology, manner of education, whatever, shoud set them up for greater honor with God. But this is not so. All our works, good or evil, are to be repented of.
When we grasp this, we can bring this to the classroom in at least four ways: 1) We can begin to see sin in the classroom as opportunity rather than someone messing up our classroom; 2) We will be struck by wonder in the classroom as we see teaching as sacramental – this is God’s image in this sinful student; 3) We will see ourselves as helpless sinners who have been charged with helping other sinners, or simply put, we will be more humble; 4) we will begin to accept the uniqueness of the student who has a soul that is alien to our own, so that we can encourage everyone in the classroom.
After this very convicting study, Jim Holland left and James Daniels focused back upon the previous day’s discussions. Picking up with the notion of mythos, we needed to develop within this overarching theme some practical manner of getting our students to enter into mythological thought. The best means seems to be the ancient rubric of the progymnasmata. Rather than spending a great deal of time on the progym, it was briefly defined and we were steered toward the dozens of great helps that are out there online.
After lunch we finished our formal discussions of the day with a lengthy look at how “subjects” fit into all these ideas. We began by discussing what a “subject” is, how it relates to the school, student, teacher, educational process. We determined that it was a form of category by which we address the various goals of the school’s vision. In hierarchial form it would appear as thus:
Vision, Mission of the School
The Ideal Characteristics of a Graduate
The Over arching Goals of Content, Skills, and Concepts that will produce a graduate
Goals for each general subject
Goals for each grade in that subject
We then discussed at length the manner in which these things are put into place. The Mission must determine everything else. The Board is probably best suited for this, perhaps with a group of committed parents and faculty who are like minded. The Ideal Graduate should be formed by the Curriculum Committee. Then we became a little more divided on exactly who should determine what below there. I still hold that the more the faculty determine (by study and investigation) what they should teach, and institutionalize it by writing it up formally and presenting it to the Admin/Curr Comm/Board, the more likely that it will be realized in the actual classrooms.
The top down approach is necessary for the big overall picture, but the details should come from the one teaching. That much we could all agree upon.
We have had wonderful fellowship, informal discussion of these ideas, and musing time this afternoon, and after dinner will watch “Babette’s Feast” together with attendant discussion and fellowship.
Tomorrow morning we will wrap it all up.