In a recent post I encouraged you to read The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse. The book calls parents to be intentional, tough-minded, and forward looking in raising their kids. If we want our kids to grow up to be responsible and mature adults -who can climb life’s mountains –we must demand certain things of them when they are children -some things which run against the grain of what Sasse calls “soft parenting.” I ran across a short article at the business magazine, Inc.com, Science Says the Most Successful Kids Have Parents Who Do These 9 Things. While I am always a bit cautious about articles that claim “science says” and do not agree with every point in this article (i.e. #4), the article reinforces much of what Ben Sasse asserts. It is okay, in fact, it is wise and good, to make your children work hard, to allow them to fail, to limit screen-time, and delay gratification of their desires. The links in the article will take you to some fascinating articles and videos. (Every parent should read about the marshmallow study!)
I know many of you are avid podcast listeners. The ACCS has begun recording BaseCamp Live, a weekly 23-minute podcast on classical, Christian education and parenting. Our “greatest challenge is how to shape young people who will encounter a culture that is often working against them and equip them to become flourishing adults who love Jesus Christ, think with confidence, believe with courage and serve with compassion . . .BaseCamp Live will equip you, the parent, grandparent, educator, or mentor, to climb that biggest mountain.” You could start with the July 26, 2017 episode titled “I Was Robbed.” The interview with George Grant will be a great encouragement to you. You can listen to these podcasts directly from the website or you can subscribe to BaseCampLive in iTunes or from your Android podcast manager.
This summer I read a book that I desperately wish everyone, especially every Veritas parent, would read. The book is The Vanishing American Adult. Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, a former college president with an Ivy League doctorate in history, and the father of three children in a classical Christian school (Veritas in Richmond, VA), has provided us with an accurate diagnosis and sound prescription for much of what ails our families and young adults. This book is not at all political and it is not a rant. It is a gentle exhortation to parents to stop and think about how they are raising their kids. You may not agree with every conclusion and you may not be able to implement every suggestion, but you must have the conversation and wrestle with these issues in your home. On some levels, Ben Sasse articulates so many of things we stand for at Veritas. As I read this book, I kept thinking, “This is what I’ve been trying to say to our parents, Sasse just says it so much better.” The first three chapters (87 pages) provide an easy to understand historical overview of how we got to where we are as parents -from Rousseau to Dewey to Dr. Spock. In the rest of the book, he outlines his prescription for raising mature, responsible, and wise adults. His stories and recommendations are very challenging and encouraging. Please get a copy of this book, read it, talk about it, and prayerfully live it. Some reviews and summaries can be found here, here, and here.
Parenting is Hard. Often, we feel alone in our struggles to raise our children rightly. Often, we look at others and falsely imagine that they’ve figured it out or that their children are easy. But biblical parenting is always hard for every parent of every child. Godly parenting requires a great deal of prayer, sweat, and tears. In 12 Spurgeon Quotes for When Parenting Feels Hard, we have some challenging words from a very godly couple who found parenting hard.
I hope you are enjoying a great summer. We are thankful for a wonderful 2016-17 school year. While the last few weeks are always a whirl of activity, they are also precious times together as a school community. The sports banquet, field trips, field day, headmaster’s dinner, graduation, class parties, and awards assembly were all special events. The year went by so fast. I often must stop to remind myself to cherish the days –for they are numbered –for all of us.
The same is true of our summer break. The next nine weeks will go by quickly. Get some rest. Take some time off. Let the children be children and enjoy carefree days. Enjoy a nice vacation or a few days at Tybee. Have a fun summer, but let me encourage you to cherish the days and be intentional with your family’s time this summer. A few weeks ago, there was a helpful article for students on the Gospel Coalition Blog, Students, Don’t Waste Your Summer. The principle applies to parents and families, as well as students. Set some summer goals for your family and children. Have a purposeful summer. Here are a few suggestions:
• Set reading goals for the family and/or children. Get a head start on the Veritas Reading Lists. Here is a great list of recommended books for summer reading (for parents and high schoolers) from Al Mohler. Maybe you can’t read 3-4 books per week like Dr. Mohler (He is incredible!), but you can be inspired by him to read 2-3 books over the summer.
• Take 20-30 minutes a day for 3-5 days/week and have your children learn keyboarding/typing. This is essential for students entering Logic School. Summer is a great time to knock this out. Donna and I did this one summer and had all three of ours typing well in no time. (Here are some recommended and inexpensive programs. My family used Mavis Beacon.)
• Visit area parks, nature centers, and historic sites. The Savannah area has many great places to see.
• If you have a rising third grader get a jump start on their insect collection (contact Mrs. Taylor, dtaylor@VeritasSavannah.org for details.) The critters will keep nicely in your freezer -woohoo!
• Have your rising 9th and 10th grader listen to this short story from Flannery O’Connor. She is an author they will study during the second semester in American Literature. This a rare audio of this author reading her own story. Great stuff!
• Have your children exchange letters (Letter? What’s that?) with far-away cousins, friends, or grandparents.
• Do several half-day service projects. Mow and clean-up an elderly neighbor’s yard. Help grandparents with a project. Ask your church for ideas and suggestions.
• Parents, please read these two articles. 1) A Theology of the Home is a fine discussion of the importance of home life. While we must not idolize our homes, we must also be careful not to underestimate the value of healthy home life. 2) You may not agree with all of the ideas in The Case for Free-Range Children, but I do think it will challenge some of your assumptions. There is much research that links healthy benefits for children who are not cooped up in the house all day or locked inside a fenced backyard. I often wonder if fear (often unfounded) has caused parents to be over protective and restrictive.
Blessed Good Friday to you. Happy Easter to you. Better yet, Happy Resurrection Sunday to you! I hope your family enjoys a rich time contemplating the death and resurrection of our Savior. This week I’ve been reviewing the questions and answers on the death and resurrection of Christ in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). They provide clear, beautiful, and focused summaries of the very heart of our remembrances and celebrations this week. I encourage you to meditate on questions 37-45 in this ancient catechism. Here are a few select passages.
37.Q. What does it mean that he suffered?
A. That all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, he bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, in order that by his passion, as the only atoning sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.
40.Q. Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even unto death?
A. Because, by reason of the justice and truth of God, satisfaction for our sins could be made no otherwise than by the death of the Son of God.
45.Q. What does the resurrection of Christ profit us?
A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of the righteousness which he has obtained for us by his death; second, we also are raised up by his power to a new life; and third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.
These truths are the foundation of Holy Week. They are the foundation of a Christian worldview. And they are the foundation of Christian education –we are fallen and in need of a Savior, God in His love sent His Son to die for us to satisfy His justice and redeem us, and Christ rose again to guarantee for us all of God’s promises. I praise God that each day at Veritas our children are taught in light of these truths. Someone once referred to genuine Christian education as “Cruciform Education” –education shaped and formed by the cross of Christ. Amen!
Two Links for Your Reading and Growth
1) Did you know that the notion of “Learning Styles” (i.e. the auditory learner, kinesthetic learner, etc.) is not true? Here is a short article from Joy Pullman at TheFederalist.com that debunks the myth of “Learning Styles”. While nearly 90 percent of Americans think people have unique learning styles — the best known are labeled auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — cognitive research has steadily debunked the idea over time. To mark Brain Awareness Week this month, 30 internationally respected neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators issued a public letter asking teachers to stop wasting time with it. The issue is interesting because it shows how a concept that is not true can become entrenched in the public’s understanding, and how false assumptions in education (or in any field of study) can be perpetuated by the flow of government research dollars.
2) Eric Metaxas at BreakPoint.org makes a great case for the importance of reading in the lives of adults and children in Readers are Leaders. This is a topic I return to regularly in these emails. Part of our vision at Veritas is to produce lifelong learners. Lifelong learners by definition and by necessity must be lifelong readers. And lifelong readers typically come from homes where books and reading are priority. Metaxas writes, Let me tell you something you already know—reading is critically important—especially for Christian believers. God after all, reveals Himself to us in the written words of Scripture. Think about it—when we read the Word, we place ourselves in the very presence of God . . . In addition to the spiritual, intellectual and relational benefits of reading, reading helps us combat stress and keeps our aging minds sharp. Martin Luther once said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” I’d add that if you want to change your world, pick up a book and read. So how do we accomplish this in a world of binge-watching, incessant social media, commuting, and a million other distractions? The title of a recent article by Charles Chu at Qz.com sums it up well: “In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books.”
Happy Reading and Have a Blessed and Holy Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!
Please let me point you to an article in the most recent issue of Touchstone Magazine that speaks very clearly and directly to the vision for covenantal parenting, godly homes, and Christian education at Veritas Academy. In Keep Them from Idols, Ross Blackburn expounds the great foundational passage for Christian education, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and argues that the education of children takes generations of fidelity. Here are a few quotes from the article.
The Scriptures understand that we are largely a product of our generations, and therefore put great weight on generational faithfulness (p. 31).
These words [Deut 6:6-9] are nothing less than a philosophy of education. At least three matters are worth noting. First, the command assumes that education is chiefly about God, in the implication that loving God and following his commands is the most important thing that a child can learn. Second, it establishes the parents as responsible for raising children to love God. Finally, it calls for such an education to be carried on in the course of life (p. 32)
Let us take seriously that the call to love God is countercultural, sometimes even in the church (p. 35).
Let us recognize the home as the primary context of education, and the call of parents to educate and disciple their children. Education is far more than imparting information. It is chiefly about forming Christian character and judgment, teaching children to love God in all of life (p. 36).
Let us remember that teaching children to love God means that education is firmly grounded in the cross of Christ (p. 37).
I remember as a young father being gripped by the generational nature of our faith (see Psalm 78:4-7). As a first-generation Christian with young children I was deeply humbled and greatly inspired to believe that God could work in my home to raise up a generation of believing children who would become godly parents who would raise up another generation of believing children. God uses many means to grow His Church and advance His Kingdom, but His primary instrument is generational faithfulness -godly homes producing godly offspring, who grow up to produce more godly offspring. I implore you to read, digest, and apply this article. I’ve not read anything in a long time, that so pointedly speaks to our vision for godly homes and Christian education at Veritas.
Here are two articles for you to read and contemplate this week. One is about parenting and other about reading.
In the article Three Areas in Which Parents Must Persevere, Pastor Scott Slayton reminds us to stay the course in 1) Quality Time, 2) Teaching and Discipline, and 3) Prayer. Most parents know what to do in raising their children. They know the basics of being good parents. They have wisdom and love. The problem comes in the day-to-day follow through and the consistency week-in and week-out. He says, “The hardest aspect of parenting is often not our lack of understanding, but our failure to persevere. As parents, what we need the most is to continue doing the little things every single day.” This article is a wise and gentle admonition to all parents. Happy persevering!
I have written many times about the value and importance of reading. I so desire that our families would be reading families –that our parents would set the example for their children by being active readers in their homes. This article presents a helpful argument for an important benefit of reading –loving others. Tim Challies in Reading Out of Love for Others argues that reading helps you to love and serve others more fully. While reading is typically perceived as a solitary act with great personal/individual benefits, it can make you more understanding of others and a better encourager of your family and friends. In my own reading, I often sense that reading deepens my empathy for the suffering and struggles of others. Challies discusses four practical ways reading helps us love others more effectively. Happy reading!
Scott Taylor, Headmaster
Each year I provide a list of what I hope produces some last-minute Christmas gifts. Please look over my Book Recommendations 2016. These are not my “Best Books Published in 2016” or even “The Best Books I Read in 2016.” This list consists of books that I suggest to the parent who is looking to read some books, but might not know where to start. They are well-written, engaging stories or essays that are accessible to the average reader. There are novels, memoirs, poetry, and non-fiction –some recent titles and some from previous centuries. I read theology and other Christian books, but generally leave those suggestions to your pastors and other sources (see here, here (World Magazine podcasts with recommendations for all ages), here, and here for some excellent 2016 Christian book recommendations). For those who are new to Veritas, you can read the recommendations from previous years Book Recommendations 2012-2015. Happy reading!