Because life is a series of edits

Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Father the Fathers

In Calling, Family, Poetry, Young Ones on February 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Rembrandt

(Every now and then, I fancy myself a poet and see what I come up with. Here's one I'd been working on that I suppose I'll call finished (or at least posted). Read at your own risk.)

I am a father to several, but often a father to none.
I am responsible, but not always responsive.
Do I think of You in this way? Perhaps.
You have a Book to explain Yourself; I have only a tongue.

Do I seem distant to them as You seem distant above?
Would that they saw You as a Father
when I mostly just see you as God.
Respect is a poor replacement for love.

Speak to me, Your son, that I may speak to them with Your care.
Comfort me as Your child, that I may comfort them as mine.
Hold my hand in Yours, that it may become mine to them.
God, father the fathers who long to be more than just there.

(The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, 1667)

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On Being “Gifted”

In Parents, Pedagogy, Students, Veritas on February 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

Gifted

Whenever
parents describe their student as "highly gifted" (either because the
student has been identified as such by a school or because his parents
just think he is), their field of vision for that student's overall
development can narrow
tremendously, with the student's gifting (rather than his person)
becoming the lens through which all decisions (academic or otherwise)
get made.


The
same thing often happens if/when a student is particularly talented in a
sport or other extracurricular – that activity can become the prime
driver for all else at all costs, a mentality often reinforced by the
well-meaning words of coaches and instructors who understandably (at
least for their activity) demand this kind of narrow commitment.


At
Veritas, one of our goals as a school is to help students (and their
families) remember that they are not their gifts, academically or otherwise.
Yes, while our school is (and is considered) an educational institution
primarily, our vision for that education is a broad – not a narrow – one
in the tradition of a what a true classical liberal arts education is
and should be.


Make
no mistake, none of us (myself included) is perfect in our pursuit of
this kind of education as we're all more influenced by our culture's
call to "specialize or else" to get ahead, but if we rightly understand
classical Christian education, this is what we desire (or should).


To
that end, we offer a few electives (and plan to offer more), but they
aren't random ones just for the sake of offering them; they serve our
broader (not narrower) goal of exposing (not focusing) students in their
study of the world (our 9th grade Aesthetics course comes to mind). For instance, we provide training in faith defense and evangelism, just not in a
decontextualized or isolated "how-to" course (talk to my eighth graders
about what we just covered in Acts 17 in New Testament class).


Our
goal for Kindergarten is not to help students "get a jump on the
system" with an over-programmed, hyper-workload curriculum; rather, in
the context of whole of our trivium education (grammar, logic,
rhetoric), we want to establish and develop basic foundations of order,
discipline, and relational skills upon which each grade can build. We
will never have what some may desire to be a "rigorous" Kindergarten
curriculum because that's not what the whole of the child needs at that
stage.


All
that to say, in answer to the question of whether Veritas (and soon The
Academy
) will challenge and engage "gifted" kids in the upper grades, I believe
we do, can, and will, but defining what the ultimate purpose for that
challenge is is the better question. If it's to help students
Christianly grow in their humanity through God's Word doing His work in
His world (which includes the challenging glories of mathematics,
science, literature, history, theology, etc.), then I think we might fit
the bill.

If the goal is purely academic for the purpose of "getting
ahead" in whatever system they're wanting to beat, then I would
encourage parents to look elsewhere.

Mockingbird Sun: “My Hometown”

In Thought on February 11, 2013 at 6:33 am

It's a rare day when I'm on the cutting edge of what's coming up in the music scene, but if you're into a band that "draws from the slow blue heat of vintage country to solder
whiskey-washed folk with classic American rock and roll," then Mockingbird Sun might be for you.

What's my source? Well, I happen to periodically work with the father of one of these guys, but this is not a case where dad thinks too highly of his offspring. They're good, as evidenced by their song, "My Hometown," on CMT – great story angle, solid musicianship, tight vocals, and a gentle humility that serves the song well.

Check 'em out and enjoy.

42

In Family, Young Ones on February 5, 2013 at 6:13 am

42

I turn 42 today. Here's the obligatory birthday blog post to prove it, but since I don't know how many of these birthdays I have left to obligate me, I'll try to make the most of this one.

According to the novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the ultimate answer
to "life, the universe, and everything."

There's a reason I never finished that book.

Now at 42, I'm pretty sure I'm not the answer to anything. For example:

  • At 42, I'm certainly not the answer for the five-year-old foster boy living with us who hits me at bedtime and repeatedly screams in my face every night that he wants his dad. I wish his dad wanted him, but I can't do anything about it.
  • I used to think being 42 would be old enough to influence others while not being thought of as completely old-fashioned. I gave that idea
    up at 32 (seems I've always been an old-fashioned guy).
  • It sure doesn't seem that me at 42 is enough financially in a nation whose government is increasingly intent on spending what I earn. Especially when they – Republicans and Democrats alike – spend it the way they spend it.
  • Some might think 42 should make you old enough to know better and secure enough to tell everyone, but I don't and it doesn't. My dad says that didn't really happen for him until his fifties. Nuts.
  • I won't even talk about 42 not being the ultimate answer physically. These days, I speak of myself as being in a shape (never mind what shape that is).
  • I hope to wear 42 with as much class as Jackie Robinson did, but that may be asking too much. Believe it or not, there's only so much abuse I can take.
  • I suppose I hope 42 might lend me some of its mystique as the atomic number of molybdenum or the last of the mysterious numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 in LOST. Alas, I feel about as intriguing as dirt.

Maybe I'll just stick with what Job learned in chapter 42 and call it a year:

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

That feels more like the ultimate answer
to "life, the universe, and everything." Happy 42nd to me (and happy 11th to my third daughter, Katie, who is still the best birthday present I've ever received).