It’s Contagious: Proverbs for the Young

Friday Assembly: Headmaster’s Address (February 24, 2017)

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NKJV)
Make no friendship with an angry man,
And with a furious man do not go,
Lest you learn his ways
And set a snare for your soul.

The proverbs teach us about many different things. This particular proverb has a couple things that I want you to understand:

#1. Who your friends are matters. This proverb warns us that we will become like our friends. We will turn into the people that we hang out with.

This can be good or this can be bad. If we spend time with people who speak kindly, make peace, show patience, and give thanks, they will help us become kind, peaceable, patient, thankful people. If we pal around with friends who let sin run their lives, sin will start to run our lives too.

#2. Anger is dangerous. One thing that we know about God is that He is slow to anger. We should be slow to anger too. Remember Proverbs 16:32? “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

If who our friends are matters, and if anger is dangerous, then angry friends become a trap for us. Do your friends go off in a huff when people won’t play the game exactly the way they want it? Do your friends yell at their parents when they don’t want to leave the party? Do your friends shove, hit, or kick to make sure they get what they want?

Now, even more importantly–do you do any of these things? Are you the angry friend that is leading others into sin?

Guard your soul from falling into a trap. Choose your friends wisely, and guard yourself against anger–because the worst thing about anger is that it’s contagious.

Lion in the Street: Proverbs for the Young

Friday Assembly: Headmaster’s Address (February 17, 2017)

Proverbs 22:13
The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be slain in the streets!”

                              Photo  Credit: Travis Jervey (Wikimedia)       

Look! There’s a lion in the street! My dog ate my homework! I left my binder in the car. My mom made me do extra chores. I had to get ready for the big game. I didn’t know how to do this and there was no one to ask. My hand was too tired to write any more. My eyes wouldn’t stay open. I lost my HAS form.

It is not hard to make an excuse. It is not hard to find a way out of responsibility. The lazy man is good at this. The lazy woman is the most creative excuse-maker in the world.
I know this truth from personal experience. I know this because I am the father of four children. When it is time to pick up the ten thousand Legos on the bedroom floor, my children are all magically seized by the need to go to the bathroom. If that does not work, they are suddenly all deathly tired and need to take a rest. Leg cramps. Headaches. Hunger pangs. I know an excuse when I hear one.

What excuses do you make? Are you a lazy person? Are you quick to see lions in the way of getting to your work?

Remember this proverb and instead of making excuses, make a plan. Instead of talking about all the reasons why you can’t get it done, be quiet and show everyone how you can. King David – he slew lions to get his work done. So can you.

The Liberal Arts: Imitation AND Reason

One of the ancient maxims in education was “imitation precedes art.” An art could only be attained from an extensive foundation in action and imitation forming cultivated habits. Thus to learn the art of the blacksmith, one would have to imitate a blacksmith for a time. To learn the art of the lyre one had to practice it imitatively as a precursor. But an art required more than simply imitation. An art arose only when imitation was joined with reason.

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education, by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain

This idea that imitation precedes art underlies many of our methods of teaching at Paideia.

In math, students imitate by memorizing math facts, singing skip counting songs, and factoring numbers. But it is only when imitation is joined to reason–when students have achieved “number sense” about how the tens system works, when they can enjoy and predict the patterns in the multiplication table, when they can cancel factors out of fractions as second nature–that the art of arithmetic is achieved.

In the fine arts, students imitate by learning shading, and foreshortening, and grid drawing on the picture set out by the art teacher, with the goal that they will eventually join these imitative skills with reason and have the ability to replicate what they see in God’s world and in their mind’s eye. In composition, students copy out sentences, retell fables, and paraphrase quotations–they imitate until they have the skills of writing which will allow them to reason out their own thoughts with fluency and grace.

The student who attempts to learn the “reason” of a liberal art while bypassing the “imitation” will ultimately be frustrated in his endeavors. We can see this in the algebra student who “gets” the concept of algebra but perpetually multiplies his numbers wrong. We can see this in the writer who has a vision to express but has no cultivated habits of writing to bring forth her reasoned thoughts on paper.

There is of course a danger on the other side–the danger of assuming that imitation is enough, the danger of never leading students down the path from imitation to reason. Some students will gladly take to imitation but never strive for more. Other students will bridle against imitation, preferring the realm of reason without the cultivated habits that imitation brings. And that is something we, as parents and teachers, must continually guard against, seeking instead to lead our students from knowledge to understanding, and understanding to wisdom.

Training Wheels: Proverbs for the Young

Friday Assembly: Headmaster’s Address (February 10, 2017)

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

path-in-the-woods-1329993069lffImagine two roads, two paths. One path leads to death, the other path leads to life; one path is a narrow, crooked road that makes you get carsick, the other path is a straight highway with good pavement; one path runs you smack dab into a hedge of thorns, the other path leads you into green pastures by still waters.

Which path would it be better to travel down?

Now imagine you’ve brought your bike to the park where these two paths begin. Maybe you are just learning how to ride your bike. You’re using training wheels. It’s still hard to balance, and you need someone to give you a little push to get going, to walk alongside of you and steady you occasionally. You still need your parents to help you get going down the path.

You’re not very tall yet, and at the trail head, the spot where the two paths begin and then veer off from each other in different directions, it’s hard to see very far down the path. You don’t know where the path on the right leads. You don’t know where the path on the left goes.

But the person helping you with your bike does. Your mom and your dad have seen these paths before. They know which path ends up in the green pastures. They know which path ends up in the hedge of thorns. And so they point your bike in the right direction, and they give you a little push to start your trip.

At school and at home, you are being given everything you need for your trip. A helmet, a water bottle, a map showing where to go, a push to send you down the right path, and someone to run alongside you for a little while, to help you balance, to keep you from falling.

Your teachers and your parents are training you to ride your bike in the right direction, on the path that leads to life not death, and it is our fervent prayer that you will continue on that path your whole life and never depart from it—as a teenager, as a young adult, as a parent yourself, and all the way down into old age.