St. Abes Journal

Donuts With Dads

Who doesn’t love donuts? And bacon? (Well, there may be a few non-bacon lovers out there, but…) We would love to spend a morning with the St. Abe’s dads on Labor Day morning. Dads, you’re invited to come see your kiddos in their classrooms, meet one another, have some yummy donuts and bacon, and pray together! Don’t forget to check the newsletter for the link to place your order TODAY!

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Education is Hearing

“Listen up!” “Pay attention!” “Tune in.” How often do you catch yourself saying that to your children? You’re not in bad company if you repeat this command often. This is one of the most repeated directions in the book of Proverbs as well. In just the first 8 chapters there are over fifteen instances of some form of this command. Jesus was also fond of saying his own version of this: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Why such a big emphasis on hearing? My hunch is that it is because hearing is one of the only, if not the only, entrances to gaining knowledge. There is no other way to get in. Hearing is the doorway you have to go through if we’re going to grow in wisdom. If we can’t hear God, we can’t learn about him. If we can’t listen to instruction from Him, or from our pastors, parents, friends and teachers, we’re stuck. We need the input and advice from all those places, and to receive that instruction, we need to be able to hear.
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Education is Draining

You don’t have to look hard to find people giving in the St. Abe’s community. For this I’m extremely grateful. A group of moms sit in the office, busily planning for the upcoming Barn Party, investing time and energy to ensure it is a success. Parents and grandparents gather weekly, praying over all aspects of our school. Teachers briskly walk from class to office to playground over and over again prepping and planning for how they will craft upcoming lessons. Students pour over math and Latin texts in the courtyard with rays of sun watching over their shoulder. Friends and family members send anonymous donations to ensure our mission will continue for many years to come. This is not to mention all that happens at home in preparation for each day at school – endless cycles of laundry, lunch packing, homework checking, praying for classmates and teachers, more laundry, more homework checking, and be sure to get to bed early enough so there is not a homicide the next morning as everyone runs around getting ready for school.

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Education is Elevation

A few weeks ago, we reflected on the importance of passing down the stories from one generation to another, as seen in Psalm 78. As a culture, we have by and large, stopped doing this, and the results have been disastrous. As we have abandoned our Classical and Christian heritage, we have also abandoned the elevated perspective such an education gives. Classical education provides a mountain top view, helping us to see above the tangle of post modern and post Christian thought.

Anyone who’s stood atop Mt. Madonna, looking out over Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley gains a certain perspective of the area. Looking at a map is one thing, but standing on the edge of Highway 152, looking out towards Watsonville, you gain perspective. You’re able to see Watsonville is not as close to the ocean as it seems, and the Aptos hills start just over to the right, beyond that you can just begin to see Capitola. In the other direction you can see the Pajaro Valley, and the famous “two towers”, as my kids call them, down in Moss Landing. Unless we’re willing to take the serpentine route up 152, we never gain the outlook provided by this view. In a similar way, by cutting ourselves off from our Classical and Christian roots, we loose that mountain top perspective.

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Education is Liberation

One of the greatest losses suffered by abandoning our classical Christian heritage has been the loss of intellectual freedom. Classical education has also been called the liberal arts because it prepares people to be at liberty intellectually. The goal of the education being given at St. Abe’s is to provide students with the tools of learning so they will be able to think with wisdom for themselves. In abandoning this type of education, we, as a nation, have set the stage for ourselves and our children to be easily enslaved by the prevailing doctrines of our day. In T.S. Eliot’s words, we have set ourselves up to become a great body of “men and women detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words, we have become a mob” which is “no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed , well housed, and well disciplined.” This is no less evident than in election years! Our children no longer have the mental will to not fall prey to the clamoring of the loudest voice which is grasping for our attention. Instead, they mindlessly follow the latest pied piper of the day, lured by the newest tune.

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Education is Storytelling

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth

We will not hide [God’s works] from their children, but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,

that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,

and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God

and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 78: 18

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Education is Drudgery

“No one can become really educated without having pursued some study in which he took no interest for it is a part of education to learn to interest ourselves in subjects for which we have no aptitude.” T.S. Elliot – Modern Education and the Classics

The goal of classical education is to teach students to learn how to learn for themselves. We do this by making them familiar with the tools of learning as made known through the three stages of the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric). Like toddlers, many students desire to be “spoon fed” their education for as long as possible. Learning takes effort. There is a natural temptation to laziness when students bump into that brick wall called “work” as they engage in the labor of learning. Part of education is teaching kids to mature out of this spoon-feeding stage and to enjoy the work that comes with “feeding” themselves through the tools of learning.

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Education is Wonder

Proverbs 25:2 tells us, “It’s the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.” This is the essence of education. God has hidden knowledge all throughout the universe, and our job is discovering how algebra, grammar, plot structures, biology, astronomy and a host of other hidden topics work. The secrets of these subjects lie waiting to be discovered, like buried treasure. Our children act as kings and queens out hunting daily to unearth them.

Learning something new carries a simple thrill. My first grade son bounced to the dinner table a few months ago, delighted to proclaim the difference between adjectives and adverbs. I, myself, remember the pleasure when I learned about the simple system of the water-cycle. Evaporation leading to precipitation was fascinating and fun to my young mind. Then there was the sweet satisfaction of working out theorems in my high school geometry class. Our teacher would toss an impossible looking problem on the board and tell us to solve it. We would plod along, step by step, failing in some efforts, but ultimately finding some way to crack the code he’d given us. Gratification was the reward for this geometric grist-grinding procedure.

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Education is Always Happening

Education never stops. One of the dangers of sending your children to a traditional day school (like St. Abe’s) is that they may develop a mindset that there is a time when education happens and a time when it doesn’t. We are shaped by the liturgies of our life. The repetitive pattern of arriving at school around 8:15 and leaving around 2:45, 5 days a week for 9 months out of the year can tempt kids to think “When I’m at school, I learn. When I’m not, I don’t.” This is a dangerous thought indeed, because education is always happening.

The world never takes a break from teaching our children all sorts of nonsense; neither does the Tempter go on vacation from his educational efforts in lies and accusations. T.V. shows and commercials, billboards, movies, music, magazine racks in the checkout line, the growing presence of handheld technology and the endless stream of information that comes with it are always constantly teaching our kids something. More frequently than not, they are messages that are unbiblical or anti-biblical.

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Education is Gravitational

“If you have this one household item in your home, it significantly increases the chance of your child succeeding in school.” So posted an article from a few years back. Though it seemed the article was ridiculously suggesting this one piece of furniture somehow had magical “smartness” powers, it was actually making a good point. The item was a bookshelf, and the idea was that most homes with bookshelves in them also have people in them who like books. The academic power didn’t come from the bookshelf at all. The influence came from parents, who themselves valued reading specifically and learning in general.

Education is gravitational. Parents set the tone for learning in their house. Whether we like it or not, our attitude towards learning will be impressed on our children. You’ve heard before that much of how our children turn out is more “caught than taught”. God built our children to learn, not just by how and what we speak to them, but by how we live. Your ingrained habits and the rhythm of your life have more influence over your children than what you teach them verbally. We can’t escape who we are and neither can our children. Just as God’s image was stamped upon us, so our image will be impressed upon our children. We have all laughed (or cried!) when we realize we have taken on less than desirable traits of our parents we never thought we would. The same will be true for our children. In particular, our attitude towards learning is quite possibly the greatest influence in our child’s education.

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