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Patrick Halbrook

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Patrick Halbrook last won the day on December 10

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  • Location
    Cary, NC
  • Favorite Authors
    Christina Rossetti, George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • School Name
    Cary Christian School
  1. Patrick Halbrook

    Privacy settings for this forum section

    Hi Diana, You can do this, but it's not self-evident. Try this: Go to Account Settings Click Email Address (on the left) Enter the name you'd like displayed in the box next to Nickname Change the setting next to Display name publicly as Scroll down and click Update Profile You might need to give the system a couple of hours to make the update, but it ought to work.
  2. Patrick Halbrook

    Bible/Theology Curriculum

    Conceptually, Apologetics fits very nicely into the Rhetoric stage paradigm, especially when it is taught as training for productive dialogue about theological questions, not simply a procession of arguments for Christianity to commit to memory. My preference would be to primarily locate historical questions in History courses; at the same time, touching on a bit of historical background from time to time in a Systematic or Biblical Theology class would provide helpful overlap/reinforcement. As a side note, one of my biggest concerns at the Rhetoric stage is that we need to confirm that students have mastered and retained basic knowledge about the Bible. Assuming we are teaching them all the Grammar-stage facts about the basic Biblical narrative in the years leading up to the Rhetoric stage (and remembering that they may or may not be getting these at home or at church), we can't take for granted that they will remember these particularly well once they get to high school. At the Rhetoric stage we should definitely focus on thinking through and articulating higher-level concepts, not Grammar-stage material. However, a 12th grader who can wax eloquent about Calvin's theology but can never quite remember the basic chronology of events in the Old Testament (and I suspect there's quite a few of them in classical schools) is missing a fundamental part of his or her education, and I worry that our paradigm of the Trivium may lead us to overlook how common this problem may be because we don't want to "waste" time going back over the more simple things students should have already learned. (Does anyone else see this as an issue, or is it just me?)
  3. Patrick Halbrook

    Distracted from Delight

    Cheryl, I think what you've written is a challenge for all of us. I'm reminded of Simone Weil's "Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies With a View to the Love of God." She argues that "the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies": Part of what I find interesting about Weil's argument is that she is so much less concerned about the content of what is being read or studied than she is about whether we are engaging in study in such a way as to improve our ability to attend to what is before us. If ever there were a system put into place to undermine this goal, it would be the internet. The way every website is set up with advertisements and links everywhere, we can't read one article without being prompted to think, "maybe I should be reading something else instead." And maybe (probably, in fact) there actually better things out there we could be reading. But are we "increasing the power of attention" by the way we browse the internet? For me, usually not.
  4. Thanks for the thoughtful input on this one! I think these are all great ways to flesh out how these concepts are compatible. This is what I've more or less concluded as well, but I still think there is tension there that is worth pondering (a tension rooted not necessarily in conflicting theories, but in reality itself). JTB--I love the broom anecdote, and can't recall if I heard it before. I definitely agree that Tripp's ideas can be difficult to apply effectively with younger children. An adult who does so badly can create confusion and cynicism, especially if kids who are simply demonstrating childish immaturity are told, "you have a heart problem." Unfortunately, I've seen this happen a lot. Karen--both of those quotes are great, and I think they'd apply equally to adults as well. In our case we have more control over being able to choose our habits/liturgies, but once we've chosen them they proceed shape us beyond the mere decision to think or act a particular way. Have any of you also read Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit? It's written from a secular social science perspective, but definitely overlaps with and buttresses these sorts of discussions. Really interesting.
  5. When I was in college a friend of mine who was studying Great Books, in response to the frequent question, "Your major is Liberal Studies? What on earth does that mean?" liked to answer that she was working on degree in "critical thinking." I thought this was a good answer at the time, and I think I still do, but with the important caveat that we properly define what we mean by "critical thinking." I've come across a number of writers recently who have identified the type of critical thinking we do not want to be teaching our students. Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, the president of Wesleyan University wrote: At First Things, R.R. Reno gave a lecture on "Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking." Here's the description (which is easily copy-and-pasteable, unlike the lecture itself): I love the phrase "pedagogy of piety." Reno unpacks that idea here, where he presents Descartes as the problem and Newman as the solution (more or less): What are some ways we can teach our students to think critically (in a positive sense), without simply becoming cynical critics? How can we help them to discern error when they see it so they know what to reject, while also--perhaps more importantly--train them to actively seek the good, true, and beautiful, and to wholeheartedly love and embrace it when they find it?
  6. Patrick Halbrook

    Biblical Rhetoric

    How do you incorporate the Bible into your Rhetoric classes? (Assuming you do?) I try to do this in four ways: We read the book of Proverbs (a good thing to do regularly anyway) and compile lists of verses pertaining to the tongue and to the impact that our words have on each other. Students memorize key proverbs. We review the concepts of logos, pathos, and ethos by identifying these concepts in the teachings of Jesus. (Joe Carter and John Coleman's book How to Argue Like Jesus is a great guide to making these connections.) We read Paul's sermons in the book of Acts to see how he shapes his message to connect with diverse audiences. We read at least one of Paul's letters and identify principles of classical rhetoric in the way he arranges them. (Ben Witherington has written a series of commentaries analyzing books of the New Testament from the perspective of classical rhetoric; see also his book New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament). (For more detail, you can see an outline I put together for an ACCS workshop proposal here: http://carychristianschool.org/Biblical_Rhetoric.pdf) What are your thoughts on the benefits of these particular exercises, and what are your own ideas on how to incorporate the Bible into Rhetoric classes?
  7. A few years ago, as part of our professional development program, our teachers watched two sets of lectures which, afterwards, I realized appeared to deeply contradict each other. In the first, "The Liturgical Classroom and Virtue Formation," Jenny Rallens, following James K. A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom, speaks to the importance of developing rituals/liturgies in the classroom that will shape character and instill virtue. It is largely (perhaps even primarily) through these daily practices that students' loves will be ordered and therefore their hearts will be shaped. In the second, "Your Christian School: A Culture of Grace?" Paul Tripp diagnoses the biggest problem with Christian schools to be the tendency to modify students' behavior--a "law"-centered approach--instead of addressing what is going on in a student's heart--a "grace"-centered approach. Tripp likes to compare the attempt to change outward behaviors to nailing apples to a tree in the attempt to make it fruitful--a total waste of time, when the nature of the tree itself needs to be changed. He doesn't address the concept of liturgy per se, but he certainly sounds like he would be skeptical of the idea, if not outright opposed to it. Here's my question: are these two approaches fundamentally at odds with each other? Or do they merely appear to be that way, when in fact they are addressing different issues?
  8. Patrick Halbrook

    Rhetoric Resources

    What are some specific works you have students read? In the past we've read Aristotle's Rhetoric, but it took quite a bit of time and effort and I didn't think it was worth it. We had better luck with Rhetorica ad Herennium, which we found to be much more readable. Do you have any good classical speeches you'd recommend? In particular, I'm interested in giving students good examples (classical or more recent, even) that clearly implement the six-part classical arrangement that they use to write their senior thesis.
  9. I never knew I was interested in history until I discovered Francis Schaeffer in college. Starting with the video series and book How Should We Then Live? and then moving on to other works, I quickly adopted his vision of history: “There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind--what they are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world.” (How Should We Then Live?) Now, as a history teacher, this is basically the approach I take in my classes. We spend a lot of time studying the arts, both to better appreciate them and to identify the culture, philosophy, and theology they express. I teach the history of Europe from the past 600 years, so there's a lot to say about the progress of secularization and how we got to where we are today, and I'm indebted to Schaeffer for helping me understand that. Having said that, over the years I'd developed a few problems with Schaeffer. I think in his broad, sweeping analysis, he got a number of details wrong. Still, I think he is right when it comes to the big picture; and for me personally, as I've learned how to think about history, Schaeffer has been valuable for the style of thought he represents. Has Francis Schaeffer influenced you? If so, what works are your favorites works? Do you expose your students to his books or videos? Do you have any bones to pick with his historical (or theological) analysis?
  10. Patrick Halbrook

    A Classical Study of Film?

    Yes: in a typical week I'll spend a few minutes introducing a film before starting it on Monday, we will spend all/most of class watching it on Wednesday, and we'll finish it Friday with 20-30 minutes to spare for discussion. If I can fit the whole film into Monday and Wednesday, I will. I don't like spreading them out more than necessary, since that's not how films were made to be watched. Sometimes we end up with a different schedule, such as when we're watching all four hours of Gone with the Wind (during which we also stop for discussion every couple of days). Before we start I'll give students some questions to ponder while we're watching so they have something to pay attention to during the film. Sometimes they'll take notes, other times they'll just watch. Yesterday we finished Chariots of Fire, and each day as we'd start I'd remind them to notice the similarities and differences between Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, especially what motivates each of them to run; we also noted and discussed key quotes from the film that revealed their characters to us. On the more technical side of things they paid special attention to the music, and afterwards we discussed whether it fit well with the story and directing or not.
  11. Also: once you have added notifications, you can change your settings on them any time by clicking on the settings menu in the top right of the screen and selecting "Manage Followed Content."
  12. Want to know when someone posts about a topic that's important to you? ClassicalU Forum has a helpful feature where you can "Follow" entire forums or individual posts. Just click into whatever interests you, then look for the "Follow" button on the right side of the page (see attached image for an example). You can then choose from the following options of how frequently you would like to receive notifications: An email when new content is posted One email per day with all new content from that day One email per week with all new content from that week That's it! It's a great way to stay connected with ClassicalU Forum and not miss out on great posts in the middle of a busy semester.
  13. Teaching history at the logic/rhetoric level means going beyond the grammar-stage memorization of facts to the development of historical thinking skills. One such skill is the ability to accurately understand and interpret historical documents. A resource I've found interesting and helpful is Stanford University's "Reading Like a Historian" resources. The authors focus on teaching students skills such as sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading (see the chart attached to this post as a PDF). Has anyone else used these resources before? If so, what did you think of them? What aspects of Stanford's "Reading Like a Historian" approach seem most in alignment with our goals as classical educators? What aspects are not? Historical Thinking Chart.pdf
  14. Patrick Halbrook

    A Classical Study of Film?

    A further topic for discussion in analyzing film, especially from a Christian perspective, is the ways in which non-Christian filmmakers represent reality accurately or inaccurately. Or, to put it another way: to what degree and in which films do filmmakers present a faithful account of the real world, even tapping into Christian themes by accident (as a result of common grace) vs. distorting their picture of reality according to their own rebellious vision of reality (because of the sinful desire to "suppress the truth," cf. Romans 1)? I suppose this is a question we ask of Homer and Virgil, too. Christian books on film tend to emphasize one or the other of these two tendencies. For a book emphasizing the "common grace" perspective, see Mike Cosper's The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. For a book emphasizing the "suppressing the truth" perspective, see Grant Horner's Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer. (Horner, incidentally teaches at The Master's University and is involved at Trinity Classical Academy; I've heard him speak at the ACCS conference a number of times).
  15. Patrick Halbrook

    A Classical Study of Film?

    I love the input here! My own film class is an optional high school elective for grades 9-12 that meets three times a week for 55 minutes each. The technical name of the course is "The History of Film" (I think because I'm mostly a history teacher? I didn't name it) and we watch about a dozen films in roughly chronological order to give students a sense of the major genres and the direction of film for the past hundred years or so. I really just have two basic goals: 1) to get students watching, appreciating, and enjoying good-quality films that they would be unlikely to watch on their own, and 2) to teach students to approach film the same way they would analyze a novel in literature class: plumbing the depths of meaning, themes, and character development, rather than simply watching films as mindless entertainment. My criteria for choosing films is somewhat arbitrary, but most films meet the following criteria: 1) Film critics (i.e. the AFI) consider them significant and/or they are able to prompt discussions on important topics, 2) The students generally like and/or appreciate them, and 3) I don't personally mind watching them over and over again every semester 🙂 Here are films that now make up my list after teaching the class for a few years (we don't usually have time to get to all of them): A Trip to the Moon (1905) Sherlock Jr. (1924) Modern Times (1936) Gone with the Wind (1939) Citizen Kane (1941) It's a Wonderful Life (1946) The Third Man (1949) Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Rear Window (1954) Ben Hur (1959) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) Fiddler on the Roof (1971) Star Wars (1977) Chariots of Fire (1981) Life is Beautiful (1997) The Truman Show (1998) Spirited Away (2001) Signs (2002) Other films we have shown over the years include The Seventh Seal, Rashomon, Vertigo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Village, Gallipoli, Dead Poet's Society, Midnight in Paris, The Ten Commandments, The Searchers, Harvey, A Man for All Seasons, and a few others. One of my favorite themes, which we come back to over and over again, is the question of how these films define what it means to be a hero. Is George Bailey a hero? If so, how? What about Eric Liddell? In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, is the real hero the cynical cowboy played by John Wayne or the gregarious east-coast lawyer played by Jimmy Stewart? Most of them have already seen Star Wars, but it prompts an opportunity to point out how similar the storyline and characters are to all their other favorites (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.) and to introduce them a little to Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces and his paradigm of the hero's journey. Heroism is also a major theme in their 10th grade Medieval Literature class, so it is interesting to see whether and how they are able to make connections between genres and classes. Finally, I've also come to see my film class as yet another means of fighting against chronological snobbery. I really enjoy watching how surprised students are to find themselves laughing hysterically at black and white silent films, or getting really into Gone with the Wind. Some of them enjoy the films enough to go home and watch them again with their families...which brings us back around to Karen's insight about a family setting being one of the best settings for watching and enjoying a good movie.
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