By Ben Nolen
Diligent – Working hard all the way to the end. (From RCA’s Morning Recitation)
RCA is a community that prizes diligence. We are here to do hard things and to learn the virtue of undertaking difficult tasks for the glory of God. The 3rd Quarter provides our community with, shall we say, “special” ground for growth in diligence. Outside, it is cold and gray. Inside, we begin to experience the heavy lifting of the school year. The 3rd Quarter feels as though it will never end, and it can be easy to begin doubting both the appropriateness and importance of working hard academically.
Questions arise: “Is this really necessary? Is my child going to use this knowledge? Is this all really worth it?” It happens every year. Many of us love the idea of a classical Christian education for our children. The true test comes when we have to watch them struggle. And struggles must come. But it is at these moments when growth begins to take place, muscles begin to develop, and diligence is cultivated. No one is ‘successful’ without diligence. In the 3rd Quarter especially, our children are learning how to work hard all the way to the end.
So, here are some voices of encouragement for all of us who feel the struggle of this special time:
1. Christopher Perrin – An Introduction to Classical Education
Whether you are still wrapping your head around what classical education is all about or you have been committed to this way of training and forming your children for years, Dr. Perrin’s book is a wonderful, concise overview of what classical education is all about. (RCA points most prospective families to this little book.)
2. Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death
All Juniors at RCA read this wonderful book for Rhetoric I. Postman discusses the deleterious effects of technology on logical thinking and clear, powerful communication. He diagnoses the ills of a tweeting generation and, in the process, reaffirms the necessity of the rigors of a classical education. The book is dated, but its message is timely.
3. Alex & Brett Harris – Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
There is glory in doing hard work, and there is glory in undertaking challenging endeavors. This refreshing book, written by two young men for fellow teenagers, challenges students not to squander their teenage years but instead work hard for the glory of God.
Rod Dreher’s prophetic manifesto is one with which we all must come to terms, whether we agree with his conclusions or not. Dreher sketches a philosophical and cultural map, attempting to diagnose our current cultural malaise. He offers possible remedies that focus on discipleship and formation, prizing the time-tested benefits of a classical Christian education.
5. Steve Turley – Classical vs. Modern Education: A Vision from C.S. Lewis
In this small booklet, Dr. Steve Turley takes the insights of C.S. Lewis’ marvelous work The Abolition of Man and demonstrates how they relate to a classical education. A “modern” education treats man as a cog in the economic wheel and leads him to a servile existence. A classical education forms man in virtue and therefore enables him to live freely.
Bonus: Lastly, let us not forget that we are part of a growing movement both in North America and globally. See The Classical Difference for more.