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Patrick Halbrook

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Everything posted by Patrick Halbrook

  1. Patrick Halbrook

    After Graduation?

    When classically-educated students graduate from high school, where do they usually go next? Where should they go next? This is a question I think about a lot, as the vast majority of our students go on to secular universities and a small handful go on to Christian universities. Of all these schools, a couple might qualify as classical. (My own situation was the opposite: after a K-12 public education, I couldn't wait to go to a Christian college. Then it was back to a secular school for grad school.) What guidance would you give to a student who is deciding on what to do after graduation? What are the main factors on which one should base one's decision?
  2. Patrick Halbrook

    After Graduation?

    Great thoughts, and I definitely agree with most of what has been said. Depending on the person, different options may be appropriate, and there's no reason everyone should have to do the same thing. At the same time, I still wonder this: at what point do we consider someone to be "classically educated," or at what point has a student really received a classical education to the degree that he or she is prepared to leave and go do other things? We naturally think in terms of K-12 since that's how schooling works in our culture. But if you had a student who attended a classical school for elementary and middle school and then left to go to public school for high school, was he or she classically educated? Or what if the student just spent a few years in a classical elementary school? We'd probably say no, he or she was not really or not fully classically educated, because classical education as we envision it culminates with high school. But why shouldn't it culminate with college? Especially if our model is inspired by the medieval university system? (Of course, there's also a sense in which education is a lifelong endeavor and one must spend their whole lifetime becoming truly educated...I'm planning on continuing my own classical education for many decades to come...but that's a slightly different question...)
  3. Patrick Halbrook

    House System

    I'm glad it's working out well. How many students are in each house, and what grades? We started out by combining middle and high school, which was quite large with about 50-60 students in each grade. We're now doing middle and high school separately, which is working well. We also have a number of students in each house involved in leadership, which involved planning house meetings, coordinating school activities like dances, and doing service projects around the school. Each house plays a different role in the school. We used to have a fairly traditional middle-school-wide and high-school-wide student government program (president, vp, etc.) but this has replaced it, and I think it works a lot better. It's impressive to see the way students step up and lead really effectively.
  4. Patrick Halbrook

    House System

    Does your school have a "house system"? When we think of schools that divide students into "houses," most of us probably immediately think of Harry Potter ("10 points for Gryffindor!"), which is of course based on a traditional English model. A number of classical schools have also added such a system in recent years (at least one college, too). Our school started ours about five years ago. It has definitely been a work in progress, but it provides some really great opportunities for the students. Here's a little more info on how ours is set up: https://www.carychristianschool.org/prospective-families/ccs-community/house-system/. If your school has one or you know of one that does, how is it set up and what kinds of activities are the students involved in? What have you found to be the biggest blessings and the biggest challenges? Would you recommend it to other schools?
  5. Patrick Halbrook

    What will you read in 2019?

    I've been interested in Gatto for years, but have never gotten around to reading this book. Some day... Recently, I was intrigued to discover that Gatto was familiar with the trivium and Dorothy Sayers, on which he shared his thoughts in this brief video clip:
  6. Patrick Halbrook

    Forms of Moral Pedagogy

    This is an important principle for the study of history as well. Years ago our high school students used a textbook by a Christian publisher that was constantly moralizing about the people it was describing, throwing in semi-related Bible verses for every occasion. Pretty much everyone, including the best students (which is what alerted me to the problem), found it grating and pedantic. We were using books by the same publisher in our high school science classes, and got the same reaction. For instance: these sections describe the French Revolution and the end of the Cold War: Personally, I wouldn't necessarily shy away from finding ways to apply Scripture to these sorts of historical events altogether, but I'd very much prefer to start by posing questions to the students, and then see if we can make these connections through a Socratic discussion, rather than simply assert them as facts in a book for students to memorize. Having said that, I always thought this type of book might work out all right for younger kids, and that leads me to pose this question: Is there an age at which it is appropriate to take a more moralistic approach to the subject-matter, in order to train students to later come to those conclusions on their own? What is heavy handed for a 15 year old might not be heavy handed for a 5 year old. Or, to pose the question in a way that comes back to Cheryl's original post: how do we adapt our forms of moral pedagogy to the age and maturity of the student?
  7. Patrick Halbrook

    Literature Teachers!

    Our school's current curriculum is viewable here: https://www.carychristianschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/CCS-Curriculum-Upper-School-2018-2019.pdf
  8. Patrick Halbrook

    What will you read in 2019?

    There's a handful of good scholars out there who write about the history of education. I enjoy reading their work, especially regarding movements and philosophies I'm intertwined with, as it's always interesting (and often helpful) to hear an outsider's perspective. And it never hurts to know more about one's own historical context. One excellent book I read last year was Adam Laats' Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education, a history of fundamentalist colleges and universities in the twentieth century. Lately I've been thinking about picking up Tim Lacy's The Dream of a Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea. You can read an interview with the author here. Has anyone read this book? Or, let me know if you are interested in reading it this year to discuss it.
  9. Patrick Halbrook

    What Should We Read?

    One thing I enjoy about teaching a book for the first time is that it is much easier to experience it through the students' eyes. I'm more likely to trip over the same things they do, be surprised by what surprises them, and feel with them the wonder and awe that comes from an initial reading. This is not to say one's teaching wouldn't not improve upon each subsequent reading. It most certainly should, and a more mature understanding of a work provides a teacher with more to offer. And yet, teaching a book for the first time is an exciting (if daunting) opportunity that provides the teacher with a perspective (and enthusiasm) which can be easily lost. You can also show students how to approach a book with curiosity and humility, being open about your questions and trying to work through those together. You certainly wouldn't want to come across as unprepared or incompetent, but I think it's great for students to occasionally hear: "What an exciting question--I've been wondering about that, too! Let's explore that together and see what we can find out..." The first time reading and teaching a book is definitely a good time to take extensive notes, record reactions, and pose questions that may be forgotten upon the second, eighth, or twentieth time around.
  10. Patrick Halbrook

    What Should We Read?

    I read Mandelbaum's translation a few years ago and enjoyed it.
  11. Well then... I guess it's just twice as upsetting 🔥📚😯
  12. (Hmmm, I think the picture in my last post didn't go through. Let's try it this way:)
  13. Replace "book geek" with "classical educator":
  14. I thought it would be helpful to start a thread where we could share recent news stories / opinion pieces relating to classical education that could be of interest to others. I'll start with this one from last week: Victor Davis Hanson, "The Liberal Arts Weren’t Murdered — They Committed Suicide" (National Review | December 18, 2018) https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/liberal-arts-education-politicized-humanities/ What have you come across lately?
  15. Patrick Halbrook

    Classical Education in the News

    In other news, this San Antonio bookstore is seeing no shortage of love for Latin (thank in part to the presence of local classical schools): Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, "Surprise best-sellers at a local bookstore harken from the ancient past" (San Antonio Express-News | February 8, 2019) https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Surprise-best-sellers-at-a-local-bookstore-harken-13602598.php
  16. Patrick Halbrook

    Classical Education in the News

    I've heard this story over and over again from those who have left their fundamentalist upbringing for some sort of liberal theology or agnosticism/atheism. Michael Kruger has a brilliant article on this over at The Gospel Coalition on "The Power of De-Conversion Stories." Here's how the narrative usually goes: Step 1: Recount the Negatives of Your Fundamentalist Past Step 2: Position Yourself as the Offended Party Who Bravely Fought the Establishment Step 3: Portray Your Opponents as Overly Dogmatic While You Are Just a Seeker Step 4: Insist Your New Theology Is Driven by the Bible and Is Not a Rejection of It Step 5: Attack the Character of Your Old Group and Uplift the Character of Your New Group In many cases it may very well be that leaving/criticizing the church/school of one's upbringing is a valid move. But if, as you've said, the story ends in a sense of superiority rather than humility, then that is hardly an improvement.
  17. Patrick Halbrook

    Technology for children

    I also just started reading this book: Much of it is common sense, backed up by research, but it's still somewhat terrifying hearing about just how bad things now are in public schools, with kids spending all day distracted from learning because due to overuse/misuse of what's on their screens. Here's a review: https://connected.socialstudies.org/blogs/margaret-crocco/2017/12/19/screen-schooled
  18. Patrick Halbrook

    Technology for children

    I took his article as a commentary, not a refutation. Some of the points he mostly agrees with, and some he mostly disagrees with. He concedes that he "can’t assume that the young people I know are representative," so I don't think he's trying to make new generalizations so much as qualifications, citing noteworthy exceptions he has seen. For our purposes as educators, I thought this was a good observation of his:
  19. Patrick Halbrook

    Technology for children

    Here's some further related insights on technology I encountered last week, from Alan Jacobs of Baylor University: "Gen Z" and Social Media
  20. In his essay "On the Reading of Old Books," C.S. Lewis pointed out, "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones" As educators committed to a classical vision of schooling, most of us similarly seek to find the right balance between the types of books we read about education, trying to figure out how to divide our time between: 1) the multitude of books about classical education that have been written within the past 25 years, 2) older books that we (at least theoretically) value the most, by Augustine, Mason, or Lewis himself (is he in the "old books" category yet?), and 3) newer books on education from outside the classical or Christian realms, about which we might feel ambiguity or suspicion, but which may at times offer valuable insights or practical suggestions we wouldn't get otherwise. How do you attempt to strike the right balance between these categories? (How would you divide up the categories you try to balance?) What books have you read from non-classical/Christian educators which have been the most (or the least) beneficial? (And have you encountered any authors who are inclined in the direction of a classical approach without realizing it or naming it as such?)
  21. Patrick Halbrook

    School Disciplinary Policy

    We're always in the process of revising our policies, but our parent-student handbook, which provides some information on them, is accessible through our website here: https://www.carychristianschool.org/current-families/parent-resources/
  22. For more discussion relating to this topic, see:
  23. Patrick Halbrook

    Top Ten Books on Classical Education

    ...and personally, I found reading Norms and Nobility a breeze in comparison with trying to truly implement its ideas.
  24. Patrick Halbrook

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    All history teachers agree we should get students reading more primary sources. But how should we use them? I have lots of books on my shelves with 1-3 page snippets of primary sources accompanied by convenient paragraph-long introductions and short study questions. Sometimes I assign these to my students. If you're familiar with AP history tests, you know that the Document-Based Questions give students primary sources consisting of very short paragraphs to analyze and write essays on. Students figure out the context and make quick judgments about the accuracy, biases, and meaning of the texts, most of which are just a few sentences. I read an article a few years ago (I have no recollection where--maybe a classical education site? if anyone else saw it I'd love to find it again) in which the author discussed the value of reading lengthy sources, not just short selections. The reason is that the more time you spend with and author, the better you get to know him or her. The text becomes a much more personal interaction between author and reader, rather than a brief collection of sentences relaying some information. I've thought about this a lot as I've assigned readings for students over the years in my history classes. Reading the entire text of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is a much different experience than just reading a couple of paragraphs. Reading The Communist Manifesto in its entirety gives you a better sense of Marx's personality and style of arguing than just reading a page or two (and, I have to say, it's not very pleasant). Serving our students texts that have been sliced and diced the way they typically are in anthologies of sources allows them to hear from a greater number of voices, and gives us the ability to feel happy that we are having them read "lots" of primary sources. But the trade-off is not only depth of meaning, but missing out on the personality behind the text. For sure, some primary sources may not be worth reading in their entirety. And students can't read everything. Perhaps this simply comes down to having to make judgment calls about which texts to read short excerpts from, and which to read more of. But however we do it, I think there is great value making sure, as frequently as possible, that students have the opportunity to spend greater time with the authors they are reading in order to develop that personal interaction that isn't possible by reading a short, utilitarian snippet or two. What do you think are the best ways to teach primary sources in history classes?
  25. Patrick Halbrook

    Top Ten Books on Classical Education

    I'd also put Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning on this sort of list, maybe in the top ten. I think reading it and Wisdom and Eloquence alongside each other is a helpful exercise, to see what they agree and disagree on. (I also recall an ACCS lecture and article by Wilson addressing some of the critiques after Wisdom and Eloquence came out.) It took me quite a while before I got around to reading Norms and Nobility. (One of our former teachers actually wrote his dissertation on it.) I enjoyed it a lot, but also found it really intimidating. Maybe it's not on the list because new teachers can't afford it...😉