The same pleasure you take in preparing a holiday feast is the same pleasure that Wisdom feels, in the book of Proverbs, as she prepares an education for her children. In Proverbs 8, Lady Wisdom concludes her eloquent invitation to wisdom, “And now, sons, hear me; Happy are they who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it! Happy is the man who hears me, Who waits on my door day by day, And keeps watch at the door posts of my entrance” (Proverbs 8:32-34). Lady Wisdom’s sons find happiness in coming home to learn from her.
In the next chapter, Proverbs 9, Solomon portrays wisdom as a great lady who has prepared a rich feast. She leads an estate and commands servants. In Hebrew, such a woman is called a geberet, or “noble woman.” This “noble woman” prepares a glorious feast of wisdom. The text explains in detail that she has begun the preparation of the meat, a work that in this time period required the aid of servants and a ready animal. She has mixed wine for the event. Wisdom takes time to set the table, to place the napkins, the silverware, the centerpiece. What kind of table would Wisdom set?
Solomon was intentional in choosing the metaphor of a feast. He understood that a feast prepared by a noble woman requires considerable planning and the organized labor of an army of servants. Consider the work that goes into your own family’s Thanksgiving or Christmas feast! Do you not delight in preparing—perfecting—those foods you know your children love?
But today, not everyone prepares a feast like you do.
Changing student demographics in America have put enormous financial pressure on colleges and universities that depend on student tuition to survive. The straightforward truth is that today there are fewer young people of college age, and census data proves this trend will continue. Of course, this change in student supply changes demand for a college education, and this economic reality has put many institutions of American higher education in financial peril.
Before joining VPSA, we (Dr. Cannon and Dr. Collender) both worked in American higher education, and we both taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These academic positions gave us a vantage point to observe a rampant and pernicious practice that is rapidly deteriorating both the experience and the value of a college education. I (Dr. Cannon) reluctantly confess to having led the charge at more than one college where financial interests were of greater concern than the quality of students’ education.
Universities depend upon attracting the same number of freshmen each year from a continually diminishing student population. Given that relativism is a common currency in today’s academic institutions, it should be no surprise that some colleges in financial peril trade the value of the education they offer for the chance to survive another year. When a school faces fiscal pressures, one of the first things to suffer, if its leadership isn’t discerning, is its educational quality.
Let us provide an example of how the quality of education in these circles is being sacrificed. “Accelerated” offerings are a new way for educational institutions to attract students. A student can save time and effort by taking “accelerated courses” in an “accelerated program” to earn an “accelerated degree.” But don’t take our word for it. Google “accelerated learning,” scroll a few pages, and you’ll see how accepted this practice has become in the education marketplace.
Some may feel that “accelerating” the learning process has no deleterious effects. But don’t accelerated courses have to sacrifice something in order to make time? It was while serving as an academic dean in a liberal arts environment that I (Dr. Cannon) was first exposed to this trend. I was also a homeschooling dad, and it was apparent that my children needed—craved—the nourishment of original sources and time to fully appreciate them.
The late Mortimer Adler, author of How to Read a Book, editor of the Britannica Great Books of the Western World, and classical education advocate, prudently observed that if one wants to have a meeting of minds with an author of one of the great books, he must actually read complete works and not just a few snippets. Adler’s insight guided his own leadership of his Great Books series, which primarily features complete works, not simply selections from those works. Adler understands his guiding principle as just that, a principle, yet for a classical Christian education, the wisdom of this principle resonates loud and clear.
A broad group of educators at Veritas Press worked for over ten years to produce the Omnibus curriculum. These six volumes present a menu to a multi-course meal that will take your children six years to savor. But what does this menu serve? Ramen? Beef tips? The “chicken nuggets” of the ancient world? God forbid! Following Lady Wisdom’s lead, the Omnibus curriculum aims to serve up original primary sources, generally as complete works, giving students the opportunity to gain the kind of classical education that Adler described.
Enjoying a multi-course meal takes time. At Applebee’s, a single server brings you a salad, entrée, and dessert. However, a multicourse banquet requires several servers. VPSA serves each Omnibus volume as two separate and interrelated Primary and Secondary courses. Could we reduce a seven course meal down to three? Sure, but Wisdom doesn’t leave plated food in the kitchen, nor does she mash the food together in a pile to make it fit on three plates. Wisdom has taste. She knows she’s preparing something beautiful. Beauty takes time and care. Lady Wisdom’s work should be enjoyed, not given a passing glance on the way to something else.
Veritas Press Scholars Academy will never serve up Wisdom as a TV dinner.
We, all of us, the teachers and administrative staff of Veritas Press Scholars Academy are blessed to carry the savory plates you set before your children. As servants are honored to be selected for service at a feast, we too consider it a privilege to serve families who purposefully serve their children a feast, and who wouldn’t even think to serve something less.
Dr. Robert Cannon Dr. Michael Collender
Headmaster Omnibus Instructor