by Kevin Ritter
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Part one of this column began to relate the story of one, local community’s response to the Federal “Common Core” school curriculum. It can be read here;
Part Two follows:
Classical education has a 2500 year track record of success.
It began in Greece, was adopted by the Romans, faltered after the fall of Rome, made a slow but steady recovery during the Middle Ages and was once again brought to perfection during the Renaissance. It depends upon a three-part process of training the mind.
• The early years of school (GRAMMAR STAGE) are spent in absorbing facts,
systematically laying the foundation for advanced study.
• In the middle grades (LOGIC STAGE), students learn to think through arguments
applying the rules of logic and sound reasoning.
• In the high school years (RHETORIC STAGE), they learn to express themselves …to argue a position, and to support an informed point of view.
This three-part plan of education is called the TRIVIUM and for over 2000 years it was used to train the great minds of western civilization.
It is only since the Progressive Era – the past 100 years in America – that we have arrogantly strayed from this time-tested method of instruction in search of better models.
As a result, the past century of American education has been characterized by a series of failed educational fads, each one worse than the one it was replacing.
• Common Core is merely the latest example.
Once we understood that there was an ordered, time-tested, step-by-step model for education that rightly places God at the center of learning……it was full speed ahead.
An initial meeting with my children’s school principal met with a different response than I expected. No sooner had I respectfully voiced my concern, about Common Core and indicated that there might be another curriculum more in line with traditional Christian education, than I was labeled a “Tea Party kook” bent upon “attacking the school.”
My wife and I held a second meeting with the District Superintendent which was much less hostile, but it began with the Superintendent’s statement……”Nothing you say to me today will convince me to remove Common Core from our schools.” He was also very clear that adopting Common Core, while it was not required in our religious school, was something he had chosen to do because we “needed the federal money that goes with it.”
Over the next two months I wrote a total of five letters to our school’s educational and religious leaders. The only serious answer I received did not defend the merits of Common Core. Instead the writer made clear he believed we could “adapt NOT adopt” the Common Core to meet the Christian school standards.
At that point our group of concerned parents (Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists and Mormons) decided to open our own non-denominational classical school right here in our community.
Called the Veritas Classical Academy (Veritas is Latin for “Truth”), we will open our doors this fall.
Our goal this first year is 50 students grades K-6. We have already interviewed about two-dozen families representing somewhere between 30-35 students. Outside our church community, the local response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have received nearly $40,000 in private donations and we will announce the purchase of our school building in about 10 days.
I have every reason to believe that a project God has blessed so abundantly, from that first meeting of the Lafayette Society, will be a success. Our plan is to add two grades per year until we are a fully K-12 private classical institution.
There is no reason the children of my region must be subject to a school curriculum that views them not as the individual creations of a loving GOD but rather as “intellectual capital” to be molded and shaped for the workforce.
God has blessed out project beyond our wildest expectations and in this particular area HE is bringing order to chaos.
Image: Courtesy of: http://viewpointsofasagittarian.blogspot.com/2013/08/common-core-crush-missouri-education.html
Kevin Ritter is a small business owner in southeast Ohio. He holds an MA in Political Science from Central Michigan University (1990) and has completed coursework, language requirements, and comprehensive exams for a PhD. in Modern European History at Western Michigan University.