Archive for classical schools

Sep
03

Why Memorize Scripture?

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Last year Regents Academy began a school-wide Scripture memory program. Each month the students memorize passages from the Bible and then recite them before their classmates. We’ve seen wonderful success from this memorization program, and it is continuing this school year. Why are we using valuable time and effort to memorize Scripture?

First, we memorize Scripture because we are a Christian school. I’m only being halfway facetious. A school can, of course, be a Christian school without a Bible memorization program, but on the other hand, would you expect a school that is not Christian to memorize God’s Word? Psalm 1 teaches us that God blesses the man who does not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly” but instead delights in His law and “in His law he meditates day and night.” The psalmist said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11). St. Paul reminded Timothy that he had known the Holy Scriptures since his childhood, and he had grown wise in salvation as a result (2 Tim 3:15). In the early centuries of the church, prospective church leaders were often required to memorize all 150 psalms. There are tremendous spiritual benefits to hiding God’s Word in our minds and hearts. We are better able to listen to God and trust in Him while meditating on His promises and commands.

Memorizing Scripture accords well with the methodology of classical education. In the grammar phase of the Trivium students memorize large volumes of information: spelling rules, history facts, multiplication tables, as well as lots of names, dates, and places. Young children, of course, don’t understand the significance of all that they are memorizing, but we teach it to them over and over again until it is rote, and then later that knowledge will be developed as their ability to understand grows. Likewise, children may not understand all that they are called upon to memorize when they learn Bible passages. But as we place God’s words in their hearts and minds, it affects them nonetheless and is tucked away safely for later days when it will be understood better. Older students in the logic and rhetoric schools, with their greater capacity for understanding, receive great benefit from memorizing the Bible as they consider what it means and how it connects to a Christian worldview.

Bible memorization also helps develop recitation skills. Students at Regents Academy recite a lot: Latin conjugations, poems, prayers, memorized pieces. As students grow up through the Trivium, they are trained to recite and speak to audiences with confidence and poise, with a strong voice, and with rhetorical skill. Memorized Bible passages, then, are another training tool in preparing students to be persuasive, winsome public speakers. Francis Bacon famously asserted that “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” We might add that recitation maketh an eloquent man.

Finally, I can say from my own experience that a school-sponsored Scripture memorization program has provided good accountability for my home. Busyness, distractions, and laziness keep me from making Bible memorization a priority. But with the Bible being consistently placed in the minds of my children at school, I can call on that knowledge and be better equipped to lead my children to honor and trust Christ.

I encourage us all to see the value of memorizing the Bible and thank the Lord for yet another gift He has given us through classical Christian education at Regents Academy.

Categories : from the headmaster
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Aug
17

Why Study Latin?

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As the school year gears up, prepare yourself for an inevitable question from the backseat on the way home from school: “Why am I learning Latin?”

I love Cheryl Lowe’s short and sweet case for studying Latin. She writes for The Classical Teacher over at Memoria Press.

Why Study Latin?
by Cheryl Lowe

Have you ever wished you had a good answer for those people who ask why you would spend your valuable education time studying Latin when you could be spending it on something more “practical”?

There are three reasons Latin has long been considered the one master subject before which all others must bow.

First, Latin teaches English better than English teaches English. “The study of one’s own language,” says classicist Charles Bennett, “is achieved incomparably better by the indirect method of studying another language … It is because translation from Latin to English … is so helpful to the student who would attain mastery of his own language … that I find the full justification for the study of Latin.” In other words, education based on the study of the child’s own language is inferior to one based on Latin.

Second, the mental discipline Latin instills in students makes it the ideal foreign language to study. Latin originated with the Romans, and their character pervades the language they created. The Roman, says R. W. Livingstone, “disciplined his thought as he disciplined himself; his words are drilled as rigidly as were his legions, and march with the same regularity and precision.”

Latin is systematic, rigorous, analytic. Its sentences march “serried, steady, stately, massive, the heavy beat of its long syllables and predominant consonants reflecting the robust, determined, efficient temper” of the Romans themselves.

Latin is clearly superior to other languages in this regard. Like English, modern languages are “lax and individualistic,” reflecting the modern temper of those who speak them. Thinking that you can get the same benefit out of studying them is, in Livingstone’s words, “like supposing that the muscles can be developed by changing from one chair to the other.”

Third, Latin is the ideal tool for the transmission of cultural literacy. Latin is, in fact, the mother tongue of Western civilization—a language that incorporated the best ideas of the ancient Greeks, and which then, after the conversion of Rome, put them into the service of Christian truth.

Rome fell into ruin, but the dying language of the disintegrating empire was infused with new life. Harnessing the power and precision of the old Latin, Christianity transformed the tongue of conquest into the tongue of conversion, and Latin became the very language of the Christian faith for over a thousand years.

Christian Latin takes the intellectual discipline of classical Latin and adds another element: simplicity. Although the basic grammar and vocabulary of Christian Latin are the same as the classical, Christian Latin authors emphasized the transmission of Christian truth, striving for clarity and simplicity above all else. Because Christian Latin is easier to read, it is the perfect gateway to the more difficult classical Latin of Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil.

And then she offers this compelling tidbit:

Need a short answer?
Mean Verbal SAT scores for 2006:

LATIN STUDENTS: 672
Spanish Students: 577
French Students: 637
German Students: 632
Hebrew Students: 623

Average for all students: 503

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Aug
13

Is ‘Obey’ a Four-Letter Word?

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I once read an article about parenting with the headline, “’Obey’ is not a four letter word.” Indeed. I see a lot of parents in Wal-Mart who seem to think it is. But a biblical view of parenting teaches us otherwise.

The Bible very rarely speaks directly to children, but when it does so it is unequivocal. “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph 6:1). And parents are likewise unambiguously commanded to be in authority over their children, instructing them in God’s ways. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them [God’s words] diligently to your children,” said the Lord to His people (Deut 6:6-7).

But what does it mean for children to obey?

It is obviously possible to do what you’re told with a heart full of rebellion. Is the standard mere external, compulsory compliance? I am reminded of the little boy sitting in the corner who told his mother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside I’m standing up!”

The biblical standard of obedience is captured well in the dictum, “We obey right away, all the way, with a good attitude every day.” This is something that children hear around the halls and classrooms of Regents Academy quite often.

Obey right away. Slow obedience is no obedience. Prompt obedience is evidence of a heart that is willing and ready to obey. This heart-readiness to obey honors the authority and position of parents or teachers and therefore honors God.

Obey all the way. True obedience is complete and thorough obedience. If I tell my daughter to place the dirty glass in the dishwasher, but she places it in the sink instead, I don’t do myself or my daughter any favors if I say, “Well, at least she got close. At least she didn’t leave the glass on the table.” Obedience means obeying all the way, not just half the way or most of the way.

Obey with a good attitude every day. Sour-puss obedience is dishonoring to God. God desires our joyful obedience to those in authority over us, and He desires this same joy of our children. Obedience that says with facial gestures or posture, “I’ll obey but I don’t like it” may be compliance, but it’s not obedience.

We must train our children to obey. Our children are sons and daughters of Adam and are born with a bent toward selfishness and rebelliousness. But we must seek to capture their hearts and win their loyalty. Children who are thankful, joyful, loyal to their parents are children who obey from the heart. Only the gospel of Christ produces this kind of heart obedience, so we are reliant on God to give us and our children His grace. We must pray for our children diligently.

This year at Regents Academy teachers are joining parents in this training process, training children, both young and old, to obey from the heart. Like any training process, there is pain involved – the pain of correction and discipline. But there is also great joy when children are heartily obedient and readily loyal to those who are charged by God to instruct them.

You love your children and want the best for them. That is why you have them at Regents. We are aware of that great trust, and we will do everything in our power to love our precious students and strive daily to train them toward obeying right away, all the way, with a good attitude every day.

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Regents Academy is a Classical Christian school. I find that people often don’t understand what that means, even people who are actively involved in the school. What does it mean to be Classical and Christian? First, some thoughts on what it means to be Classical. In a later post I will offer some thoughts on what it means to be Christian.

Being a Classical school might call to some people’s minds a repressed, austere boys school like in Dead Poets’ Society, where creativity and independent thought are suppressed in the name of rigor and tradition. Others may think of nuns slapping the back of boys’ and girls’ hands with rulers or of tearful students with endless piles of homework.

But a Classical education is an education bequeathed from the riches of Western civilization. It gathers the best of the ancients – the truly classical cultures of Greece and Rome that sought to produce the ideal man through contemplation and philosophy – and the medievals, who were in love with the idea of integrating all thought into a coherent whole. Classical education builds on the Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. By studying these disciplines, students learn the great thoughts of their predecessors, comprehend how language works, grow in their ability to read, speak and write intelligently, and are cultivated in wisdom and virtue. The disciplines of the Trivium (and the accompanying disciplines of the Quadrivium) were called the “liberal arts” because they freed the mind and were a fitting education for free men.

Consider the words of educator Paul Lehninger:

These liberal arts, as distinguished from the servile arts (and, in the middle ages, mechanical arts), were liberal because they freed the citizen from captivity to his own inner perspective to join in the exchange of ideas in the larger culture. In this sense, they were true education: a leading out of the mind from the darkness of subjective ignorance to the light of truth.

So to say we are a Classical school is to say that we have a certain kind of curriculum – one that is built on the classical disciplines that aim to expose children’s minds to man’s greatest thoughts and aspirations from his greatest works of literature, science, and art. It is to say also that our education aims toward a certain goal. The ancients conceived of education as producing the model citizen who conformed to ideals of virtue. We likewise have a model in mind – the biblical ideal of Christlikeness. Being conformed to Christ is to be conformed to the new humanity who is being remade in His image in true knowledge and righteousness.

Dorothy Sayers famously added to the discussion of Classical education the insight that the Trivium corresponds to the natural stages of a child’s development. The grammar stage, when children are young, is when they soak up great amounts of information, especially through jingles and rhymes. The logic stage, when children are young teenagers, is when they are learning how to argue and wanting to know how assertions are justified and how ideas interconnect with other ideas. The rhetoric stage is when children begin to learn how to speak and write winsomely and persuasively, building on their previous grammatical and logical (or dialectical) instruction. So to say that we are Classical, in this sense, is to say that we “cut with the grain,” as Mrs. Sayers put it. We teach according to the God-given frames of our children, from young kindergarteners who memorize readily to later teenagers reason logically and speak beautifully.

Categories : classical education
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Jun
21

Thank You, God, for the New Playground

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What a wonderful gift the Lord has given us — a new playground for our grammar school children to enjoy. Thanks also to all our volunteers who worked in the hot sun to spread mulch.

Here you can see the project from unloading to completion. The last picture is of the smaller playground piece for the KPrep and Kindergarten students.

Categories : school life
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Jun
15

Senior YouTube Videos

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The videos of this year’s senior class are available on YouTube. Enjoy them again for the first time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7N4R8m8eXc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9IXCDsjzIM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Calk3fZOYqM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt4U6oyJ7Lg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0yhS5a-3TY

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Jun
12

Parenting 101, part seven

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Another principle for being a good school parent: Read up and understand classical and Christian education.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Classical education is quite new to most of us, and most of us did not receive a Christian education ourselves. We want great things for our children, but we can’t achieve those great things apart from embodying the principles of classical and Christian education ourselves, in our own homes. Education goes on 24/7, not just when we drop off the children at the stone building on the hill.

So read up on classical and Christian education. Grasp it, know its history, its philosophy, its methods, its soul. Then, most importantly, live it out. It’s great to know, but it’s better to do. And living out the disposition and spirit of classical and Christian education is most important of all.

Where to start? Here is a list of books to lay your hands on and read. If you would rather listen to a lecture, check with the school office about borrowing a CD of a classical Christian educator’s speech or lesson. We have tons of them.

1.    Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson.
This book, based on Mr. Wilson’s successful venture with Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, has been the pioneering guide to the renewed interest in classical Christian education.

2.    Repairing the Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Modern Education by the staff of Logos School in Moscow, Idaho.
This collection of practical essays gives insights into applying the classical model to the curriculum and administration of a school.  The authors have all worked in the Logos School which has been the model for many classical Christian schools.

3.    The Christian Philosophy of Education Explained by Stephen Perks.
This text clearly defines Christian education. It is not to be academically inferior, culturally retreatist, or modeled after the humanistic schools.  This book shows how Christian education should be explained.

4.   “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers.
English scholar, mystery novelist, and Christian thinker Dorothy Sayers wrote this insightful, idealistic essay many years ago.  It outlines the model used in classical Christian education called the Trivium, and it explains how the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages naturally fit the mental growth of children and the mastery of a field of knowledge.  She had no idea or expectation that her essay would have such a tremendous influence in the latter part of the twentieth century.  But “ideas have consequences.”

5.    The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson.
Doug Wilson says that education must deal with basic questions of life — questions that require religious answers. Building on his previous book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Mr. Wilson encourages parents and educators to turn to Christian classical education.

6. The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory.
First published in 1884, this presentation of the laws of teaching is a timeless guide to the basic principles of good teaching.

7. The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness by Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby.
This book provides excellent guidance and counsel for those preparing for one of the most difficult transitions of life — that of leaving high school and entering college. Helpful for students and parents alike.

8. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.
Though Mr. Postman is now deceased, his work lives on, encouraging 21st century people who are immersed in digital media to re-think the power of the printed word and resist the ever-present temptation to be amused to death by the trivial and banal influences of television and electronic media.

9. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
More than a handbook on parenting, this book is a guide for parents to apply biblical truth to childrearing. The principles in this book are also an excellent guide for the discipleship and discipline of students while at school.

Jun
10

Val and Sal Speeches 2010

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Congratulations again!

The valedictorian of the Regents graduating class of 2010 is Parker Andrews. The salutatorian is David Henry. Both young men graduated magna cum laude, with many honors and accomplishments, and both are preparing to continue their education, having achieved a number of significant academic scholarships.

We are very proud of these two students, who achieved top honors in their class. Below are their speeches from this year’s graduation ceremony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOTVYb92_LM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHBUjzuEvj4

The Regents Academy commencement exercises on May 28, 2010, looked backward to thank God for His abundant blessings in the lives of our five graduates and their families. The ceremony also looked forward to what God has in store for Parker, Brad, Olya, David, and Hannah. Through their education at Regents Academy, these students have been uniquely prepared to be lifelong learners and to pursue whatever vocational avenue God opens up.

Below is the video of speaker Lance Vermillion’s graduation speech. Mr. Vermillion is the former assistant administrator at Regents and currently the elementary principal and assistant headmaster at Veritas Academy in Texarkana. His speech is a profound and witty tribute to classical Christian education and a meaningful challenge to the graduates. The video is in two parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FoXRJX1tgw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMj5zvVnUn0

Jun
08

A Soaring Eagle

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Congratulations to Mrs. MaryAnn Bentley, who received the Regents Academy Soaring Eagle Award on May 27, 2010. Pictured below are board member Michael Kunk, Mrs. Bentley, and new headmaster David Bryant. We love you, Mrs. Bentley.

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