Because life is a series of edits

Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

Easter Sunday Slogan or Real-World Reality?

In Parents, Pedagogy, Students, Veritas on March 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Tomb-21

If you’ve been alive the past seven days, you know it’s been quite a week for our nation. I won’t rehash the events of the Supreme Court hearings in this email (though you’re welcome to read my personal thoughts here), but it’s ironic (or perhaps not) that so much of the vitriol of the debate has coincided with Holy Week. If anything, the events of this week have reminded me that we – that I – need Good Friday and Easter as much as ever.

In our 8th grade New Testament class this week, we began our study of the book of Romans. I had asked students to have read the book before our discussion, and they came with questions not just about the text, but in light of the pink equal signs and crosses found across Facebook, about what Paul’s most systematic doctrinal treatise (and the latter half of its first chapter in particular) means for us today.

If you know some of our 8th graders, you know it was a spirited debate, not so much about right and wrong, but about the nuances of how Christians respond concerning both. We talked about how easy it is to make Romans 1 only about the topic of homosexuality, when what Paul is more fully describing is the process that leads to practicing such sin (as well as many others – see Romans 1:29-31) when God is not honored or given thanks.

These are the kinds of discussions that happen everyday at Veritas. Our goal is to teach students to respond, not just react; to appeal to cohesive biblical doctrines and virtues, not just decontextualized verses and proof texts; to think in solid logic, not just sound bytes. We want to help students learn to discuss and debate the nuances that come with the huge issues of our day, not for the sake of winning arguments, but for gently restoring a fallen world, for which Paul, in the first few chapters of Romans, reminds us that we are responsible and inhabit.

In true gospel (“good news”) fashion, there are 14 chapters after these first two, throughout which “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This hope is what we celebrate this Easter weekend, what we as Christians need, what the world in its fallenness requires to flourish, and with which we desire to educate our students.

“He is risen; he is risen indeed.” May this be less Easter Sunday slogan and more real-world reality for us and for our kids.

Losing the Fight Over Love

In Calling, Church, Health, Humanity, Marriage, Politics, Science, Theologians, Thought on March 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

My heart is heavy with all that is taking place right now concerning the debate over gay marriage. Apart from the issue itself, I lament the hostile rhetoric of it all and the way sides are being taken with so little nuance (see Facebook's pink equal signs and their "Christian" cross variations), not so much for a position but against someone else taking the opposite one.

With this in mind, I appreciate N.T. Wright's perspective on framing the discussion and would encourage you to give thought to it in terms of how Christians should engage:

As to the issue itself, I wrote about it here on the blog five years ago and you're welcome to agree or disagree. For a more recent treatise that I think worthy of your time, Voddie Baucham's article, "Gay Is Not the New Black," is an important piece that does a good job addressing the issues at hand in the context of the current rhetoric.

All that said, pray for our country, that regardless of whatever differences people have, we can show love to one another in our discussions of them.

Humble Phone Calls

In Parents on March 26, 2013 at 10:00 am


Cs_phoneJust this morning (before 9 a.m.), I've already taken two phone calls from current Veritas parents in need of financial help.

The first call was from a mom trying to figure out how to pay for the remaining two months of school; the second was from a dad looking ahead trying to figure out how to pay for next year with a second student in the mix. Theirs were humble phone calls, and I was humbled to be on the receiving end of them.

These are real people with real stories. Both were acting responsibly (I always appreciate parents who take their contracts as seriously as we do); both were struggling with how to make ends meet; both were hopeful that I might have an idea as to what some options might be to move forward.

Both situations are good examples of why we raise scholarship funds. Our deadline to apply for scholarship help is April 1st, but there is no deadline to give (though we do hope to raise the remaining $8,000 of our 2013-14 $24,000 goal from December as part of our Not-a-Banquet fundraiser on April 12th).

If you're a Veritas family who needs financial help, we hope you'll apply for scholarship. If you're a Veritas family who doesn't, we hope you'll give.

I've already talked to two people this morning who I know would be grateful.

On Teaching Atrocities (My Advice to a New History Teacher)

In Calling, Education, Humanity, Pedagogy, Poetry, Politics, The Academy, Young Ones on March 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm

“In both 7th grade and 12th grade, we are about to talk about World War II. With that, comes discussing atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanking. However, I am unsure how to appropriately teach the specifics. They were very important events that need to be understood, but I also know I need to be aware of the level of the students that I teach. As much more experienced teachers than I, I was hoping that you could give me advice on how to talk about these subjects with the students.”

The biggest thing to think through is your own personal preparation; that is, understand that the kids will take their cue from how you present and process with them, so if they see you being ONLY objective, then anything truly awful will seem shocking because we as humans shouldn’t be unemotional when it comes to these things. In other words, students need to see you deal emotionally with the grief and not just the facts of these atrocities.

That said, you have to really check your own heart in presenting some of this. It’s easy to throw something gratuitous out there either via image or story in order to get a reaction and reassure yourself that the students are listening, but we as teachers have to resist that temptation. The kids need to know what happened, and they also need to know how we feel about what happened. Definitely hold off on an overuse of graphic images at the 7th grade level, as well as be careful even at 12th grade – it’s just too easy to go for the easy gut reaction and miss the nuance and respect that these events require.

For 7th grade, students read “The Hiding Place,” so they get a pretty good feel for at least one expression of the Holocaust. In general, for that grade, keep it fairly objective and general. While they need to know these things have happened, the number of dead, the sort of categories of offenses (using Jews for scientific experiments, etc.) are more appropriate, probably, than the specific instances, descriptions, etc. It is a good opportunity to talk about human depravity and the nature of evil AND that the greater majority of Germans (for example) didn’t actually participate, but nor did they act against. It’s useful to discuss, in general, that the feeling of “I would never. . .” is exactly what often allows evil to take place.

For 12th grade, there is more of an opportunity to talk more directly about the experiences and the factual accounts. Here’s where images would perhaps be more appropriate. There are also lots of good connections with our Comparative Religions class, and again with the nature of evil and the fallen nature of humanity. Since it’s American History, focus on American perceptions (or misperceptions) and the same sort of willful ignorance as other nations. Perhaps connections with how Americans view events today and how we expect our country/government to act, intervene, etc. Or, in other words, what makes the Holocaust so special given the number of atrocities and scale in the 20th century?

Finally, be very careful what the kids see/hear you laugh about; humor is a natural protection mechanism we use when dealing with atrocities like these, but it can come off very crass. There needs to be a sacred approach, not just a funny self-protective one, to dealing with these matters of life and (unfortunately) death.

Something of the Marvelous

In Family, Nature, Places, Travel, Vacation, Young Ones on March 21, 2013 at 9:14 am

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."
Aristotle

Few things take my mind off the past and the future like camping does. I've just returned from spending two days and two nights living almost
exclusively in the present, and it was so good I didn't want to come
back.

I'm late to the joys of camping. Some of this is not my fault (I only remember one camping trip my family took when I was a kid and it was eight miles from my house); most of it, however, is (I lived 12 years in Colorado Springs, worked at a camp for 10 of those, and never even owned a sleeping bag, for crying out loud).

Come to think of it, I still don't even own a sleeping bag. I really am (and always have been) a camping lightweight.

Lightweight or not, when I hit my late-30s and felt the need to do something unique, experiential, and (let's be honest) cheap with Megan and our growing girls, camping suddenly became a legitimate option. Megan found a great family tent on Freecycle, we borrowed some gear, and presto – we were campers.

Our girls – all four of them – absolutely love it. This blessing is not lost on me, as it would stink if even just one were only slightly amused or (worse) completely repulsed by the idea of hiking, eating, and sleeping outside. In addition, while I wouldn't say it's her favorite thing as she longs for a Winnebago, Megan's usually good for at least a couple days and nights without a shower, so I've got that going for me.

This most recent trip (our first over a Spring Break) was different for a variety of reasons, most notably the addition of a set of young foster boys (4 and 3) to the mix. While overall a positive experience for everyone (especially the boys), let's just say there's another reason I didn't start camping until after our girls were five and older – taking two little kids camping overnight was a boatload of work for all of us.

We decided to go to the Wichita Mountains
Wildlife Refuge
– 60,000 acres of southern plains set aside to preserve buffalo, longhorn, and elk – about 90 minutes southwest of Oklahoma City.

Cacti

We didn't see any elk, but we saw enough buffalo and longhorn to say we did.

Tatanka 2

Longhorn

We got to the Refuge on Monday late afternoon and promptly set up camp. The girls know our routine and helped the boys find a place within it.

Campsite

Tent Building

Old Blue

After getting set up and taking a walk down to the lake, we cooked some hoboes…

Hoboes & Chairs

Hobo

…then built a fire and roasted some s'mores (the boys' first).

Campfire

Laugh by Light

It was a cold evening (mid-40s) in the tent…

Tent Girls

…but everyone made it up for a breakfast of eggs and bacon.

Bacon

That first morning, we took the boys on a nice little adventure up Little Baldy, which was about a twenty minute hike from our campsite. As it was the first activity of the day, the little guys managed, but the girls ended up carrying them some on the way back.

Little Baldy

Backpacks

We hung out at the campsite some and then grilled some hotdogs for lunch.

Hot Dogs

After lunch, Megan offered to lie down with the boys in the tent so the girls and I could jump in the van to drive six miles to the Sunset trailhead to hike Elk Mountain. This was a longer hike (about four miles roundtrip) and a little more of a challenge, but the ladies love them some hiking, so it was fun.

Hikers

On Top of Elk Mountain

After being gone for a couple hours, we came back to camp and the boys just waking up. We hung out for an hour or so in camp before loading up for a trip to the visitor's center and a drive up to the peak of Mount Scott.

Visitor Center

Mount Scott

Directions

We then headed into Medicine Park to experience a little southwest Oklahoma culture and Ann's Country Kitchen. Good food, lots of local color.

Ann's

Restaurant

After picking up some ice and water, we drove back to the Refuge, built another fire, and had another round of s'mores. We were all pretty wiped and called it a night around ten, though the girls could have stayed up longer playing cards by lantern light.

Lantern Laughs

The next morning, we had a muffin breakfast, broke down camp, packed up (it's amazing how much stuff we brought for a two-night camping trip – again, we're lightweights), and made the drive back to OKC. We got the van unloaded, started some laundry, ate lunch, and then the boys took a four-and-a-half hour nap while I took the girls to see The Hobbit at the dollar theater – a nice end to three days of fun.

Spring Bling Masquerade Ball

In Students, Veritas on March 13, 2013 at 8:20 am

Spring Bling

"Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
What masque? What music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?"

from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Pretty excited for our 9th-12th graders next month…

Overview of Classical Christian Education

In Educators on March 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm

It could use a better soundtrack and there’s a terrible typo that ought to cost someone his or her job, but here’s a good video on classical Christian education called “The New Old Way,” produced by Veritas Press and the Association of Classical Christian Schools.

The Best Kind of Goodbye

In Parents, Pedagogy, Students on March 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

Goodbye_goodbye

In these months when families are finalizing schooling decisions for next year, sometimes plans change and we lose a student or two to out-of-town moves. We just received notice of this from one of our first-year families and, while we hate to lose them, if they have to say goodbye, this is the way we like to hear it.

"I just felt led to explain to you why we won't be returning to Veritas next year. My husband and I have been offered positions as young adult pastors at a church in Pryor and we will be moving to Claremore this summer.

Although we are both VERY excited about the direction God is taking us in, we are ALL very sad in realizing Veritas will not be an option for us next year. I cannot express to you how much we have enjoyed being at Veritas this year. Our daughter has learned so much and most importantly gained a deeper love for learning and the things of the Lord.

That being said, even though we will not be close enough to attend Veritas next year, we believe in the methods of the school so much that we would like to continue the same curriculum with our oldest next year, as well as with our younger daughter who will begin Pre-K. I would love your insight on how to maintain the classical learning and methods of Veritas while being solely a full time homeschool family. If you know of any 'part time' schools similar to Veritas I would also love your input.

And finally, if ever you find yourselves thinking 'Hey, a Tulsa Veritas is an option,' LET ME KNOW! My mother and I have tossed around the idea of starting something similar and she feels with my education background, it would be the perfect scenario. Although I appreciate her confidence in me, I'm not sure she realizes how much starting something up like this entails!

We appreciate the Veritas staff so much and their hearts for our children's education!"

Here at the beginning of March, we've already exceeded our current enrollment and spots are filling fast for 2013-14. If you've yet to enroll/re-enroll, go here!

Three Trust-Building Tales

In Parents, Students, Teachers, Veritas on March 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Trust
Story #1:
A Central Campus mom investigating other possible Christian school
options told me that, when she took her children in for that school's
admissions testing, she picked up on some "homeschool hesitancy" from
the admissions coordinator. Apparently, before the students had even
taken their tests, the admissions coordinator was already assuming that
they would most likely need some remediation over the summer. The
children, however, tested off the charts, so much so that the mom told
me the admissions coordinator told her afterward (and I quote), "I don't
know what they're teaching at Veritas, but our school may need to make a
phone call to find out."

Story #2: WISE Council Chair, Catherine Brown, called me to say she had been in a meeting with a producer at the local Fox affiliate here in OKC and mentioned our merger with Providence Hall as part of The Academy of Classical Christian Studies.
He thought it might make a good 3-minute studio interview and had one
of his program directors call me to set it up, which she did. Two hours
after that phone call, she called me back to say that she thought the
story of our two classical Christian schools coming together would be
better told if Fox 25 came to both campuses and interviewed students,
parents, and teachers as part of a full story instead. No argument here! They're calling me back in a couple of weeks to set up a date to film.

Story #3: Just
yesterday, I received a call from one of our office staff to tell me
there was a woman downstairs wanting to talk with me about hosting our
Grammar School next year. Confused, I asked if the woman happened to
mention if she had an appointment, because I wasn't aware I had one.
Indeed, the woman hadn't made an appointment, but had heard about our
need for a site for our Grammar School and had sought permission from
her church leadership to inquire about our need. Her church is just ten
minutes from First Baptist Moore, where our Upper School will be, and we met today to walk through the facility, bringing our number of total viable sites to three.

God is writing stories like these in and through the life of our school – we love hearing and sharing them and, despite the trust they often require, we want to be a part of them as God ordains. What story is God telling in and through your family?