Greetings from Houston! What a wonderfully educational and inspiring day it’s been! The conference began after lunch, with a hymn:
Let children hear the mighty deeds
Which God performed of old,
Which in our younger days we saw,
And which our parents told. (LSB 867)
It was a moving way to begin. Isn’t that exactly the motivation for what we do? First and foremost, is it not our goal to teach our children the truths that God has revealed to mankind both directly, in Scripture, and indirectly throughout history?
Following a warm welcome by conference host Rev. William Heine, and CCLE chairman Rev. Stephen Kieser, we heard the first plenary session entitled “And Just What is Classical Education?” by Dr. Gene Edward Veith.
Dr. Veith stated that Classical Lutheran Education has two components: Liberal Arts and Catechesis. Furthermore, he said that classical education can be defined as an educational philosophy, as a curriclum, and as a teaching methodology. He pointed out that a classical, or liberal education was the type of education that the Ancient Greeks and Romans provided for “free” people. This kind of education equipped those people to be influential thinkers and decision makers that shaped the civilization. Slaves did not have access to this type of education. Instead, they received a servile education, teaching them the specific, practical, job-oriented skills that they would need in order to fulfill their duties to their masters, and nothing more. Dr. Veith also pointed out some of the fundamental differences between classical education and progressive education.
Dr. Veith went on to explain the key elements, or content of a classical education. There are the seven liberal arts, made up of the trivium (grammar, logic/dialectic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). These are applied to the 3 liberal sciences: moral sciences (knowledge of man), natural sciences (knowledge of the world) and theological sciences (knowledge of God).
The role of the teacher throughout the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages changes. The grammar teacher is a coach, making the students practice over and over until they learn the mechanics of the subject. The dialectic, or logic teacher is a midwife, helping the students give birth to their ideas, questioning them and encouraging them to find the answers, and engaging with them in dialogue or discussions. The rhetoric teacher is an audience, challenging the students to persuade him.
Although the classical education movement in the last 50 years or so has done much in the way of explaining, promoting, and teaching the trivium, there is still much work to be done in fully unpacking, understanding, and teaching the quadrivium.
The keynote address also included some discussion on the trivium of Catechesis, in Dr. Veith’s opinion an important component of classical Lutheran education.
Following this informative plenary session, conference attendees chose one of four breakout sessions to attend. The afternoon concluded with a very reverent Evening Prayer, officiated by Rev. Dr. Scott Murray.
The evening program provided opportunity to socialize with other conference attendees, first over a drink or two, and then over a delicious catered dinner. Dr. E. Christian Kopff and Dr. James Tallmon provided some after-dinner entertainment with a dramatic reading: a scene from the play Wittenberg.
We spent the rest of the evening back at the hotel talking with fellow homeschoolers in the lobby.
Tomorrow morning we begin with Matins at 8:00 a.m., followed by a plenary address entitled “What Lutheran Education Needs to Teach About the Gospel,” by Rev. Todd Wilken. Interested? I’ll give you a synopsis tomorrow!