Dr. Robert Littlejohn on Rhetoric

“If a collection of good men and women speaking well is the most valuable commodity a culture can possess, then our school must establish eloquence as the goal for every student. As it is, rarely do we coordinate the way students learn and the ways in which they will perform as leaders. Rarely do we connect the things we teach them every day with their responsibilities to seek the greater good and to draw their friends and neighbors after them. How will our students use language to benefit their neighbors? Will words and the ideas embodied in them come easily, or will our students simply be good men and women, possessing discernment but without the capacity to benefit those around them through appropriate speech and noble deeds?”

— Dr. Robert Littlejohn, Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning

Children’s Church

A friend ran into this argument:

“Can you give biblical reasons for not having someone watch your ONE YEAR and 2-month-old child while you’re in church? Come on man. 14-months-old?? Can you tell me exactly what you think you are accomplishing by having a 14-month-old in church?”

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He responded simply with Bible references.

Have you not read?

“Call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants.” -Joel 2:15-16

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” -Matthew 21:16

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” -Luke 18:15-17

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.” -Joshua 8:35

“Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” -Deuteronomy 31:12-13

“Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” -2 Chronicles 20:13

“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.” -Ezra 10:1

“When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another.” -Acts 21:5-6

Ephesians 6 assumes that children would be present at the reading of the letter to the congregation.

Children were present at Jesus’ preaching (Matt 14:21).

Keep your kids in Church! The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. The elements of a service are didactic even if they don’t have full comprehension. What they will quickly gain is the knowledge that “these are my people, this is where I belong, this is the Body of Christ where I worship God.” It may take years for them to put that into words, but they understand it as surely as they understand that they belong at your dinner table. Have you ever tried removing a one-year-old from a dinner table full of older siblings?  They know to whom they belong. They have an incredible ability to discern the Body.

A Better Admissions Test: Raising the Standard for College Entrance Exams

a-better-admissions-testIt was a real privilege to contribute to A Better Admissions Test: Raising the Standard for College Entrance Exams by Classic Learning Initiatives! It was especially delightful when my search for a primary source brought me to the University of Idaho special collections, and the inaugural address of Frederick Kelley, President of the University of Idaho in 1928. Kelley, the original creator of the standardized exam in 1915, changed his views with age and wisdom, and spent the latter part of his career advocating for classical liberal arts.

My chapter (Chapter 1) gives a brief history of entrance exams in the United States, starting with an overview of the classical liberal arts, a needed foundation to understand the change brought about by standardized testing.

Robert Bortins of Classical Conversations said it best about this book: “A must read for anyone in education or admissions who is brave enough to admit that things aren’t quite right in higher education any more.”

2016 Liberty-minded Voting Guide

For the past several elections, I have released a “voter guide” for my friends who ask me who I am voting for.
 

For those living in District 5 of Idaho (Latah and Benewah County), here is how I’m voting:

 

carl life quoteLOCAL ELECTIONS MATTER! PLEASE VOTE!

Print-friendly PDF: http://bit.ly/Voting_Guide_Print

English and the Latin Question

“We are all—more or less deliberately—students of English; we all recognize the value of accurately expressing our ideas and of exactly understanding the ideas of other. Now, though the notion has never dawned upon the large, good-humored, unenlightened public opinion which indirectly shapes our educational policies, to the serious student of English some acquaintance with Latin is not merely convenient, not merely valuable, but quite literally indispensable. At every onward step towards the mastery of his own language and literature he must use his Latin lamp if he has one, or stumble and go astray in the darkness if he has not. In this position the value of Latin is unique.”

—The Classical Weekly, Vol. V, No. 26. May 1912. Full column HERE (highly recommended!)

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Teaching to Tests

Quote

“If the unhappy day ever comes when teachers point their students toward these newer examinations, and the present weak and restricted procedures get a grip on education, then we may look for the inevitable distortion of education in the terms of tests.”

—Carl Brigham, creator of the SAT recanting his invention, and arguing against its advancement.
From The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, by Nicholas Lemann

Education as a lifelong process

“Education is a lifelong process. How well any of us becomes educated does not depend essentially on how much he comes to know in his school and college years but rather upon how effectively he has come to be imbued with the spirit of study in school and college years so as to assure his remaining a student throughout life. It is amazing how general the notion seems to be that we study only when we have teachers who require it. Learning is the result of study! Teaching is not a substitute for learning but is only a stimulus to it. Teaching, then, should be confined to those fundamentals which serve best as a basis for subsequent learning. College days should not be wasted on those highly differentiated aspects of subjects, the mastery of which will naturally follow if genuine intellectual interests are created or stimulated during college years…College is a place to learn how to educate oneself rather than a place in which to be educated.”

—Frederick Kelly, The University in Prospect, Inaugural Address as President of the University of Idaho, 1928.

Hilary’s quote at the debate

Hilary commandeered this quote during the #debate (2nd Presidential Debate – Town Hall), but in great irony, neglected the context. America is not good. America has ceased to be both good and great. Let’s make America great again: fill our churches.
#SackclothAshes2016

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fiertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
—Alexis de Tocqueville, attributed

Broken Bread for Broken People

So the emptier you feel, the greater the need to come. There is fullness here, fullness for your emptiness. So the weight of your sin bears you down, but there is one here who will lift all of your burdens and will bear them away. So you feel sometimes as though your heart is black as hell, but here is edible light.

Humble yourself, and do not fear that adverb. Come.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

Douglas Wilson, inviting broken people to the broken bread.

Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Aeneid

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“How does Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain echo the main theme of the Aeneid?

The Aeneid describes in an epic fashion the destiny of the Roman people to bring peace to the world through conquering the nations and bringing civilization. Geoffrey directly echoes this idea as Brutus receives a prophecy that his descendants will govern the earth. So Geoffrey depicts the British people as being the heirs of the Roman destiny.

Defense of the Faith student workbook question, from Old Western Culture curriculum.

The River Thief, by N.D. Wilson (starring Joel Courtney) | Review

If you’re familiar with N.D. Wilson’s children’s novels, you know you’re in for a treat with The River Thief, his first feature film.

This film breaks from the typical Christian film by telling a good story first and foremost. A lost, father-hungry boy discovering true love. Not the sappy, romantic love of your typical Hollywood flick (this girl wouldn’t have any of that), but rather the kind of love that creates a longing to live or die for someone else (something new for Diz).

A wonderful family film, although there are some rough scenes. My 7-year-old son was spellbound, and somewhat affected by the rough parts. Yet this is the kind of story that is healthy. The emotion, drama, and violence of this *good* story are like emotional boot camp; it allows a young boy or girl to experience these emotions of grief and fear along with the positive life lesson that a good story provides.

As a resident of the Northwest where this was shot, I also appreciated the cinematography, which was outstanding! Beautiful aerial views in particular.
I highly recommend The River Thief!

Augustine on the use of Rhetoric

Christians need to learn the tools of Rhetoric both to persuade and to gain wisdom and understanding of our times.

“Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?”

—Augustine, On Christian Teaching (quoted in Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student by James B Nance).

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Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student | Illustrations

I’m really enjoying seeing the illustrations for Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student come together. Fitting Words will be a complete Rhetoric curriculum for the 10-12th grade (and above!).

Here are some of the original illustrations going into it, from illustrator George Harrell.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

Developing Memory

Developing Memory

Key_Concepts

Further Reading

Patrick Henry (1736–1799).  Henry was American founding father, orator, and governor of Virginia who advocated anti-federalism. “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” —“Give Me Liberty”

Patrick Henry (1736–1799).
Henry was American founding father, orator, and governor of Virginia who advocated anti-federalism.
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” —“Give Me Liberty”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC).  Cicero was a Roman statesman and philosopher, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time. “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.”  —Orator ad M. Brutum XXXIV.120

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC).
Cicero was a Roman statesman and philosopher, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time.
“Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.”
—Orator ad M. Brutum XXXIV.120

Could Your Child Enter Harvard In 1869?

What the entrance exam to Harvard university tells us about classical education in America.

In 1646 Harvard University adopted the following words, based on their mission statement, as part of their “Rules and Precepts”:

Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).

Thoroughly dedicated to Scriptures as the source of all Truth, Harvard sought to equip ministers and laymen with the tools for being effective citizens in the world, to the glory of God. How did they do this? Through classical education.

Some Christians hear about “classical” or “liberal arts” education, and assume it is an ancient, pre-Christian form of education. Historically liberal arts, meaning “freeing arts”, was the education of a freeman or nobleman, while vocational education was for a slave or serf. Some object that it is a pagan way to educate children, as opposed to Christian, and that “Classical Christian” is simply some kind of syncretism or oxymoron. Not only is this untrue, but it is ironically untrue. In order to dismiss “classical education” as pagan, you have to dismiss the entire history of Christianity in regards to education. The founding fathers of the United States provide a clear example. Not only were they classically educated themselves, but they considered classical education to be an important component to being a faithful, educated Christian. The entrance exam below, paired with the mission statement of Harvard, demonstrates this:

The HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY portion of the Entrance Exam for Harvard University, July 1869.

I. Bound the basin of the Po, of the Mississippi, of the St. Lawrence.

II. Name the chief rivers of Ancient Gaul and Modern France.   Is France later or smaller than Transalpine Gaul? What are the two principal rivers that rise in the Alps? Where is the Mount Blanc?

III. Where is the Source of the Danube? of the Volga? of the Ganges? of the Amazon?

IV. Describe the route of the Ten Thousand, or lay it down on a map.

V. Leonidas, Pausanias, Lysander.

VI. Pharsalia, Philippi, Actium, — geographically and historically

VII. Supply the two names left bank in the following passage from the Oration for the Manilian Law:

“Non dicam duas urbes potentissimas, Carthaginem et Numantiam ab eodem ________ esse deletas; non commemorabo nuper ita vobis patribusque esse visum, ut in uno _________ spes imperii poneretur, ut idem cum Jugurtha, idem cum Cimbris, idem cum Teutonis bellum administraret.” Who was Jugurtha? Where was Numantia?

VIII. Compare Athens with Sparta?

IX. Pericles: —the Man and his Policy.

See the entire exam (all subjects) HERE (PDF).

Students would answer from their knowledge of Julius Ceasar’s Gallic Wars in Latin, Xenophon’s Anabasis in Greek, and from the historians Herodotus and Thucydides. It was this education that enabled the American founding fathers to intentionally reject the (failed) “experiment in democracy” of ancient Athens, and to instead build a Constitutional and representative Republic, which was more like the Republic of Rome. Classical education shaped men like George Washington, and John Adams. But the Founders were not returning to something merely ancient. They were continuing the tradition of classical education as it was handed down from the earliest of Christian history, starting with the Apostles themselves, and going into the early Church, and on into the Middle Ages, and particularly strong among the Protestant Reformers. As little as 60-70 years ago, it was still taken for granted that an educated person would have a classical education. The idea that education would not be classical, or that classical education is opposed to Christian education, is a very novel and modern idea.

Wondering how to give your children the kind of education that would allow them to pass the entrance exam to Harvard in 1869? Roman Roads Media is the right place.

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Open Letter to Every Christian Parent with Children in Public School

Christian, is your child in a public school facing yet another wave of attacks on sanity and religious freedom? Will your daughter be using the restroom alongside a disturbed boy who “identifies” as a girl?

It’s time to opt out!

I’m not going to spend time making the case that you should opt out. I really hope that Christians are seeing that in most situations today, this is the obvious conclusion. But rather, I want to answer the objection “what is the alternative?” How do we opt out?

It may not be easy, and some situations are harder than others, but there are incredible opportunities available today to give your children a CHRISTIAN education. You really CAN opt out! More than ever before in history, parents are equipped with the tools to make this possible, whether books, video courses, online courses, curriculums for every learning style, and of course, private schools. There is a solution for just about every situation, every budget, and every style of learning. All of these scenarios require dedication, but nearly every true obsticle is now removed.

I have dedicated my own career to providing one answer to this question. Through the company I founded, Roman Roads Media, we provide Christian classical curriculum designed specifically for the homeschool, with an emphasis on video and online learning. Our speciality is 6-12 grade classical subjects.

But we are one of many. Let me name you just a few of my friends, all doing their part to answer this question:

For homeschool:

For Private schools:

Can you not afford the education? There are ways: scholarships, talk to your church, or talk to me if you’re interested in our curriculum.
But please, Christian, #OPTOUT! For the dedicated parent, there are always opportunies. And I will help any way I can.

Sincerely,
Daniel Foucachon.

Founder, Roman Roads Media,
publisher of Christian classical curriculum

Photograph: Toby Talbot/AP. Originally appeared as a Facebook Note, and on New City Times