Hebrews 4:16

Let us then come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Using the right Tools

This summer has been a whirlwind for me as I have spent most of it moving about and preparing and very little of it winding down and resting. One of my favorite attributes of what I dream summer to be is the act of relaxing and refreshing from a busy school year.

As a homeschooling momma the hats I have chosen to wear are many. Oftentimes, I rob myself of the joys of this life by choosing too many hats to wear in view of the elusive list I never really get completed. Walking this road can be one of utter honesty and reality to which we come to the final truth that w/o Christ we can do nothing fully well. We can have measures of success but in the sanctity of our position IN HIM when we choose to do things apart from Him we are walking a road with our eyes fixed on anything but the calling of our own heart.

That said, I have been blessed to be busy and knowing I was where I was supposed to be. Letting go of the "should have done's", the "Need to do's", the " I wish I could have's" has now become a more vivid reality in my walk. I am in a constant state of learning, and isn't that where we are supposed to be ? I am finding that there is little in this world that is worth knowing, save knowing Christ and seeking His heart and will.

Yet, doesn't he call us to seek and inquire of this creation. In Deuteronomy 29:29 we learn that it is those hidden things that have been revealed to man and for his descendants. The Word of God has shown us specifically how to learn and seek wisdom and to get knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 24:3-4 says , " Through Wisdom is a house built; and by Understanding it is established: And by Knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches."

In Proverbs 4:5 the Word of God tells us to GET WISDOM. In verse 7 it goes on to say with all your getting of wisdom, GET UNDERSTANDING.

Proverbs 2:6 says, " For the Lord gives wisdom; out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.

In Proverbs 9:10 we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and knowledge of the Holy is understanding."

Let's look at these words I have italicized: Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom.

In each of these scriptures we find that they work together to complete the learning, the pattern or the tools required to accomplish the end goal.

Real learning requires an acquaintance to solidify the material and make it relevant to any person, child or adult. I have long believed the Classical Model of learning is by far one of the most thorough, well-established and successful patterns by which to present material.

The Classical Model follows the pattern set in Proverbs 24. It is the Trivium; Latin for "3 roads".

The classical model employs the grammar, dialectic and rhetorical process by which the student can master any and all subjects.

The beauty of this model is that it is natural, it is doable, it is effective.... ANY one can learn. We live in a society where we are told that our children ought to be labeled. What is an ought and who are we to decide that one person is elevated above another because they score higher on an aptitude test? The measure of our value is not based in our abilities, it is based on our identity to the King of Kings.

As I have had to prepare this summer I have had the privilege of reacquainting myself with the words of those who have gone before me, who have walked the journey and see the fruits of their labor come forth. Even more so, I am acutely aware and the lack of preparation and knowledge of these tools present today.

So what is this " 3 Roads" I am speaking of?

Dorothy Sayers calls them "The Lost Tools of Learning" in her essay by the same name. She elaborates, quite emphatically, that it is the loss of these necessary tools by which we have pushed our educating to a lower standard.

The point is that at one point in our history we were a completely literate nation, one which when finished with their education would produce not citizens of ideal labor, but persons of thought having a disposition to articulate on that thought.

I can hear in the back of my mind, we are not all wired the same. No we are not, but in Proverbs 18:16 the Bible also tells us that a man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. We are all given an innate ability to learn and when coupled with the tools we have the advantage of be educated and equipped to learn anything.

That is the key for me. When we have the tools to know HOW to learn, we can approach any situation and be willing to learn any new thing with fervor. Where does it say we are to stop learning? Where does it say that after we graduate from high school or the pursuit of a college degree we must stop seeking knowledge, wisdom and understanding?

In the Classical Model, Grammar is the input, the knowledge stage. It is the place where we are gathering the vocabulary and the facts about that which we are learning. In every subject there is a grammar stage... the acquaintance of coming to know more about something. This where we provide a brief and gentle introduction to a subject and then we move on. Mastery is not expected here, it should not be required. I have learned, often through hardship and tears, that moving on is good and the mastery comes.

The Dialectic is the dialog and asking questions phase, the understanding stage. It is the time of logic and ultimately... learning to Think! This is the time when you are recognizing that you have an idea about something but you want to know more. The student is asking questions, thinking and processing and considering that there is more than just the facts. This is the light-bulb moment we have seen in our kids. This is that time when they are able to say, " You know what... why does it do that? How did this happen? Where did this come from?" It is the logician within us that derives the ability to question and consider. This too is natural. It may be different for every one but if you watch, if you look, you can see it begin in your children and in yourself.

The Rhetorical is the ability to relate the information you have learned back to someone else, the wisdom stage. This the place where you can teach someone else what you have learned. We can all be rhetorical, though I find some people tend to fight this concept. They just don't want to get out of the grammar stage or the dialectic phase. That is ok, but what I am saying is that when we can tie something together in a cohesive understanding and present that information to someone else, we are being rhetorical. I once heard that when we truly understand something we can relate it back in way that would be understood by a 10 year old.

The joy, I have found, in looking at this through a lens which is readied first by the Word of God and a Vision lifted to heaven versus the expectation of man is that realization of one thing.. we have all been given the innate ability to learn and it is a privilege.

Proverbs 25:2 says, " It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."

We are all priests seated with our King when we have accepted Christ as our Savior. We have been given a special advantage in this life to seek out the hidden things which have been laid out before time began stored up for those who inherit salvation.

When God created Adam, he made him fully functioning. He breathed into his dust formed body, the breath of life. We were made in His image.

When Jesus walked this earth, He spent time with his most trusted friends and gave of Himself to those who would hear. He walked with them, talked with them, taught them and then when He left He gave us the Holy Spirit who is our teacher. It is in the revelation of that truth we have understanding.

In Deuteronomy chapter 6 we read the commandments to teach our children diligently, when we rise up , when we lie down, when we sit and when we walk. We are told to bind the truths as a sign on our hands and as a band on our head and we are told to write them down.

Education can be daunting but in this era where we focus on specialty and easy or quick methods, I challenge you to slow down. Enjoy learning with your children. Pull back and learn with them and grow in our own knowledge so that you can be filled with understanding and walk in wisdom.

We can find the classical model in anything. It will take training our eyes to see with clear vision and renewed purpose. In the book by Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, she says it is going to take a change in the culture to turn around the generation. What a better way to begin than to take those lost tools and begin redeeming not only our children's education, OUR education but the education of the generations to come.

Some excellent books on Classical Education:
The Core and Echo in Celebrations by Leigh Bortins
Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
Norms and Nobility by David Hicks
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and Repairing the Ruins by Douglas Wilson

Warning: Reading these books make cause a giant paradigm shift for the reader! :)

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