Epistula

 

Contents

 

Opening by Marlin Detweiler

Feature Article What I Hope to Gain from a Classical Christian Education

by Ragan Brock

Educational Helps by Laurie Detweiler

Free Offer

Q&A

Announcements

 

January 2008

 


Opening

 

First, let me be the last to wish you a Happy New Year! And I don’t mean just the first day, I mean the whole year. This is a long epistula. It just kind of worked out that way. But you’ll want to read it carefully—it has a lot of helpful and interesting information.

 

January is a time for taking stock of what’s working and what could or should be changed to make the school year and educational experience better. Feel free to call us if we can help. That’s why we’re here.

 

In December we ran a writing contest for our online students. They were asked to write on the topic, “What I Hope to Gain from a Classical Christian Education.” The Feature Article herein comes from Ragan Brock of Alabama, a young lady who submitted what we have judged to be the best one. She will receive a $100 gift certificate. The runner-up is Caleb Voskamp from Ontario and will receive a $50 gift certificate. Thanks to all who entered. It was a real joy to read them and see that you not only enjoy but are really benefiting from your education.

 


Feature Article

 

What I Hope to Gain from a Classical Christian Education

 

Many times we wonder what life would have been like if we had done things differently. We wonder what it would have been like if we had gone to that school, taken that job, married that person, or moved to that town. It’s a natural train of thought for us as humans. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if my parents had put me in a public school. Would I have the same friends? The same opportunities? The same experiences?  These are questions that will forever remain unanswered throughout my life.

 

But honestly, I thank the Lord that these thoughts and questions will never become reality. God has blessed me with a wonderful home, a wonderful family, and wonderful parents who care about me enough to provide me with a wonderful education. And for this I will be forever grateful. 

 

There are a number of things I hope to gain from this classical Christian education I have been blessed with. First of all, it is my hope that this way of teaching and learning will create in me a thirst for knowledge—not just book learning, but knowledge of the world. I hope that it will create a hunger; a hunger and a yearning to cultivate my mind—not only in the textbook format, but in the design of the world. I want to learn about people, about their history, about what makes them who they are. Only Christ can give me a heart for others, and a classical Christian education gives me the opportunity to learn and put it into practice. Matthew 22:37-39 says, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  As Christians, this is our calling. And through my classical Christian education I hope to gain a deeper hunger and knowledge of our great duty.

 

The second thing I hope to gain from a classical Christian education is a solid, biblical worldview. And the only way I can do that is through sound teaching, and thorough Bible study. Rod Thompson said that “The single most important factor in the formation of a Christian worldview is our immersion in the scriptures.” As a student being educated in the classical Christian manner, I have seen what this looks like when it is put into practice.  I have been able to discuss a subject in my Omnibus online classes through Veritas Press one day, and then turn around and share it with a struggling friend the next day, or bring it up in Sunday school to discuss with my teachers and other classmates. It is amazing to see the way God places people and situations in our lives, and in such perfect timing. I am so thankful that by my classical Christian education I am able to develop a deeper understanding of the Lord, and a firm foundation in His Word.

 

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The philosophy of the classroom shall become the philosophy of the government in the next generation.” President Lincoln knew and understood a fact that so many Christians of the present often overlook. The young children of today will become the leaders of tomorrow. And so many of the children today are not being trained for this calling. They don’t care about the fact that someday they will be the ones making decisions that will affect entire nations.

 

This is a tragic problem that is not mentioned very often. Today’s children sit in classrooms for hours on end, filling their minds with book learning, but their character remains untouched, that is, untouched in the right way. They are conformed into worldviews created by the teachers and principles of government schools, and they learn through the examples of their peers. And no one even questions it. Our children are being filled with ideas that parents don’t even pay attention to. C.S. Lewis stated that, “The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the one that are assumed.” 

 

Kids today are not taught to think critically. They are not taught to question and find things out on their own. They are not taught to read the great literary works of the world and find out what the writers of history believed in. They are not taught any of this, their character is not being developed, and honestly…they don’t even care. This problem is very much a disastrous one. But thankfully, there are people in the world who see this issue, and are doing their best to fight against it. My parents saw this problem and the effect it will have on the generations to come, and they decided to take a stand against it. I praise the Lord for that. Because I have been taught to think critically, to read and question the great literary works of the world, and to understand the history of humankind, I am able to see God’s hand at work in so many ways. Ways that I would never be able to see if I was only given a government education.

 

It is a huge blessing to be brought up in a Christian home and to be provided with the truth—the truth about God, the truth about education, and the truth about life. But with this blessing comes great responsibility. Luke 12:48 says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” The responsibility we have been given is great, but it is also very honorable. Because the Lord has so generously gifted me, and all classical Christian students, with an insightful knowledge and worldview of life, we are the leaders. We are the leaders of this generation, and the generations to come.  We should be motivated, and driven with a passion to reach out to others in the name of Christ, sharing with them our knowledge and our love of learning. This is the final and most important thing I want to gain from a classical Christian education. I want to be motivated to be a leader in our fallen world. Benjamin Franklin, although he was not a Christian, pointed out a profound fact. He said, “He who shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of Christianity shall change the face of the world.” And that is our job—to make a difference in the world. And we can only do this because the Lord sent His only son to die in our place.

 

Praise be to God!

 

Ragan Brock

 

Ragan is an online student with Veritas Press. She is currently enrolled in Omnibus II, Primary Books and Omnibus III, Secondary Books. She plays the piano and competes in a Forensics and Debate League for homeschoolers. 

 


Educational Helps

 

I don’t know about you, but as the New Year begins I spent some time looking over my son’s lessons to make sure that I was on track to finish the year without forgetting anything. (You may recall three of our four sons are in college and we have only one son at home, a junior in high school.) I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that just getting through the information is not enough. What am I doing to inspire my son to be the best that he can be—as Christ has called him. I have to admit that only having one at home sometimes makes this hard to do. It was much easier when there were four and raising godly young men was the main focus of our life.

 

As I look back over the years I realize that if education is really to work, it must be the aroma of your home. This is easier said than done, and there is definitely not a one size fits all or a paint by numbers approach to be used. School does not just take place between the hours of 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Children need to look at life as an ever changing adventure where learning takes place along the way. They need to believe that life is about exploring the world that God has given us. They need to be cultivated to hunger for more, never being satisfied that they have completed the task. Most children are inquisitive by nature. We must be careful to not squelch this out. When our boys were young I can remember one summer we spent quite a bit of time at my parent’s home in Highlands, North Carolina. It was a dream spot for four little boys who loved to find treasures and bring them home. Whether it was the salamanders in the creek that needed me to find the perfect plastic tub or a rock that they were sure was gold, it was the perfect opportunity for learning. Some days I was better at this than others. I learned how careful we must be to capture those opportunities offered to us.

 

As children get older, what was once going into the back yard turns into driving some distance or even getting on an airplane to pursue the same level of curiosity and maintain a high level of inspiration. There are still some interesting ways to connect to their past education and make for some efficiency in keeping up the curiosity. I don’t know about everyone’s children, but mine thrive in the use of the internet. Many discussions arise in our family from recently learned or discovered things found by use of the computer keyboard.

 

Even young ones can benefit from the resources available in cyberspace. I recently ran into some web sites that can be used to supplement your schooling. One will help make interesting connections to the past. It lists interesting historic events that happened on today’s date, whatever it is, in the past:

http://www.ducksters.com/todayinhistory.php

 

Two others provide free coloring pages—great resources for younger children during the cold winter days:

http://www.coloring.ws/coloring.html

http://thecoloringspot.com/

 

Another includes fun science experiments:

http://www.sciencewithme.com/experiments.php

 

As I’ve said before, learning can simply be the aroma of your home. Do you look forward to getting up everyday and having school? I can tell you I don’t. But we need to realize that these attitudes affect our children. Do you turn off your sense of learning when the lessons are done for the day or do you capture those opportunities that come your way? A little time invested can pay great dividends by using web sites like the ones above or finding your own means to engage the children in fun and interesting activities that have collateral learning opportunities.

 

We hope that you enjoy the New Year and that we can help you along the way.

 

Laurie Detweiler

 


Free Offer

 

Free Stuff with January Order
We are going to test your spirit of adventure while we make room for our spring book shipment. For a couple years we have given things away each month under a variety of circumstances in this monthly newsletter. Giveaways have included travel chess sets, King Cakes for celebrating Epiphany, sea shells, Sounds of Sanibel CDs, etc. We have small quantities of many of these items remaining. Any order in January may receive a surprise grab bag that will include one or more of these fun items. When you order, request your free grab bag or, when placing your order on the web, enter GRABBAG in the Shipping Instructions.

 


Q&A

 

Q. Do you have a recommend schedule that includes all of your curricular recommendations and how to integrate them together from day to day?

A. Yes. The lesson plans previously mentioned here are intended for just that. They are available for grades K through sixth. This is a scripted set of plans that is tailored to your family’s needs and tells you exactly what to do in every subject everyday. Click here for more information about our lesson plans.

 

Q. How does the Veritas Press curriculum compare to ABeka, The Well Trained Mind or Son Light? How are they different?

A. From the time we started Veritas Press (and before) we were captivated by the educational methodology of the Trivium and the content contained in what is commonly called the Great Books. The eloquence of Dorothy Sayers’ essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, and the practical late twentieth century application of it from Wilson’s Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning have had us saying that is what we want!

 

The popularity of an idea such as classical Christian education has caused many to join in. Some who have joined in have gone to great lengths to minimize the Christian in classical Christian education. Some have minimized the classical. It has always been our goal to remain true to what Sayers and Wilson wrote about. Not because we are traditionalists, but because that is what we got excited about and, now, some sixteen years later, that is what we have seen work exceptionally.

 

As I look at all the curricula you have mentioned, I believe they all have some very good aspects. In fact we have many customers who combine what they like about those curricula with ours. What I would encourage you to do if you want to educate in a classical Christian manner is to read Dorothy Sayers’ essay and ask yourself several questions: How are these principles best applied in my situation? Do I care about instilling a deep, thoughtful, biblical worldview? Will the children in my care actually remember what we cover?

 

 

Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to info@veritaspress.com.

 


Announcements

 

New Faces at Veritas Press

Bruce Etter. Bruce has taught Omnibus, Rhetoric, and Spanish at Veritas Academy for three years. He will join Veritas Press full time after the 2007 – 2008 school year. Two years ago he approached us with an interest in teaching classes online. It has been such a huge success that he will be our online class administrator and will also teach considerably more classes online.

 

Cindy Nightingale. Cindy has been working as the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. She was a founder and administrator of Berean Academy in Tampa, Fla. She plans to start with us around July 1, 2008 and will be the Manager of Veritas Press Scholars Academy, the umbrella for a variety of services including consulting and grading services, certificates of completion on a grade by grade basis, transcript services and graduation degrees.

 

Online Classes

Two years ago we experimented with two online classes—both were Omnibus classes. It was a smashing success beyond our wildest imagination. The students were great, the technology easy and flexible and the teacher was very well loved. We expanded to nearly two hundred students in this our second year. We could easily double again as we are planning to offer even more courses. Families with existing students will be permitted to sign up for 2008 – 2009 classes beginning February 1st, new families sometime after that. Watch for coming announcements.

 

Veritas Press Teacher Training and In-A-Week Classes

We were astounded at the results of the survey many contributed to last month. Thanks, very much, to all who participated. It helped shape our plans. Teacher Training is now scheduled for July 21 – 23, 2008 here in Lancaster, Pa. But here’s what’s new. We plan to simulcast the Teacher Training so, if you wish, you can attend on the internet. And we plan a special online only Teacher Training at a date to be determined in August.

 

We will also be offering numerous In-A-Week classes, including Latin, Logic, and Greek. The In-A-Week classes will run July 21 – 25 here in Lancaster, overlapping the Teacher Training. Furthermore, we plan to run a full schedule of In-A-Week classes on the internet throughout the summer.

 

Introducing a Great Idea for Young Ladies

Here is a fabulous new product – and all of you need to click your way on over to this website and check it out: www.amorettidesigns.com. Amoretti was started by a friend of ours, Rebekah Merkle. Rebekah is the daughter of Douglas and Nancy Wilson, and when we met her she was a high school senior in Moscow, Idaho. But now she’s a mother of five and homeschooling them in Oxford, England, while her husband gets his PhD. Meanwhile, she’s also developed a new product for young girls . . . and you really should just go to her website and read about it there. You can also be entered for a chance to win a free Skirty by sending an email to info@amorettidesigns.com and putting “Free Skirty” in the subject line.

 

Taking on More Speaking Engagements

With three of our four children in college and the last one being homeschooled, we find it easier to travel during the school year than in recent years. Consequently, we, Marlin and Laurie Detweiler, are taking on more speaking and consulting engagements. If we can be of service to you or your organization, feel free to give us a call.

 

A Wilson Strikes Again—An Addition to the Veritas Press Offerings

N.D. Wilson has followed up his debut novel Leepike Ridge for young adults with the publication of the first volume of an ambitious trilogy. The first book in this trilogy is 100 Cupboards, released the day after Christmas 2007. The next book will be called Dandelion Fire, and the last The Chestnut King. The story follows the adventures of a young boy named Henry who goes to stay with an eccentric aunt and uncle in Kansas, and who finds himself dragged unwillingly into another world entirely—only to discover that the other world was actually his original home. Throw in one hundred cupboards, with each one leading to another place, a truly satisfying witch, a real mystery to solve, and pesky cousins, and you discover this book is a great read. This is not so much a story of a boy turning into a man as it is a story about a sheltered boy turning into an actual boy.

 


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