New families to Veritas Press are often overwhelmed at the amount of work. And I understand why. Much of the curriculum being offered elsewhere is based on standards of only getting done what is absolutely “necessary” and then checking it off the list. Just look at any of the main-line publishers and you will see the phrase “meets Common Core standards” nearly every time. It’s why our education system is in the deplorable shape that it is. We no longer find the joy in learning that we should. We are simply looking at it as a means to an end. And we’re not even sure what the end is, as long as it’s not too hard.
I was talking to a good friend the other day about church, and I think the analogy is actually pretty similar. How many of you have ever found times in your life where you got up on a Sunday morning, dragged yourself out of bed feeling like you “had” to go to church to be obedient to what God calls you to do. (Of course, it’s better to do this than not go.) This is so sad. Yet, unfortunately for many, this is where we find ourselves. It is easy to get into the routine of life and simply lose the joy we’ve had. Most times this is because we lose our focus on what’s actually happening. Church becomes no more than an exercise in obedience because we forget about Jesus. We forget how grateful we are to our Savior. All too often, living the Christian life becomes more about do’s and don’ts rather than loving God and loving our neighbor.
The same is true of education. One must have a clear sense of understanding, of purpose and of what the objectives are. Of course there must be standards to reach a goal, but the road to getting there is very different depending on what goals you are using. One of the reasons I get so excited to go to church every Sunday is the goal of our church: To see lives changed by Christ. Everything that the church does revolves around this goal. The same is true of standards at Veritas Press. Our goal is to change culture for Christ one young heart and mind at a time. We believe that a child put through the rigors of classical Christian education will be the best-prepared adult for doing this.
Compare that to Common Core. From the official site of Common Core we read:
The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core.
As you can see it becomes very easy to turn education into a checklist. And not just any checklist, but one that has no regard for individuals. At Veritas we have standards, and we even have grade-by-grade goals. But we realize that if education becomes a checklist it is not going to change lives.
Someone recently posted this on the Veritas Press Facebook page:
My 11-year-old stood in a dance class and explained rather bluntly why it isn't funny to laugh and joke about Hitler. She explained who Hitler was and why he is "evil." She didn't spare any details.
Click HERE to see the post.
This is exciting. It’s an expression of what changing lives for Christ looks like. Look at the Veritas Press for the Win Facebook page—a page run by students. I think you will be amazed at what these kids are thinking and talking about. But, what is it about this education that is so very different from the outcome-based education of our society today?
To understand this we need to take a quick look back in time. Our current school system, as we know it, was set up in the late 1800s/early 1900s to meet the need of our changing industrial economy. Our public school system was supplying the factories with their workers. Our school systems developed during this time, becoming like the assembly lines for which they were supplying the workers. They became so similar that they had bells blow to sound the end of a class period just like the sound for shift changes in a factory. It was during this time that children began to be sorted by ages and placed into a particular grade. They were treated like a mass to be passed through a factory as if they were being assembled on the factory assembly line, Any individuality was gone. In fact, being an individual was not something that was looked on with favor. Students were to fit into a particular mold.
So what does this have to do with parents asking about the amount of work in the Veritas Curriculum? Well, we are not looking for a checklist to just make sure that a student gets a minimum set of particulars right every day. Instead, we are looking to expand their horizons and expose them to great ideas. We want them to think God’s thoughts after Him, to be able to engage the culture in which they live winsomely and to see God’s Kingdom flourish. We are looking for them to become life-long learners, gleaning from those who have gone before them. First and foremost, we want them to learn from our heavenly Father. This, of course, includes learning from the great ideas of Western Civilization. We want them to wonder about God’s creation, to be creative and aspire to change culture for Christ, whatever their vocation may be. And this takes time. It’s not a checklist. Each child is different. Education is not meant to be purchased at a drive-through as if it’s a Happy Meal. Rather, it’s more like eating a five-course meal at a fine restaurant, where you savor each morsel that enters your mouth.
So our hope for our children, and yours, is that they never lose their curiosity, that they wake up every day excited to learn whatever comes their way. And that they enjoy the hard work of preparing for a life filled with adventure and God-given purpose.
By Laurie Detweiler