by Kathy Foldesy, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Westside Christian Academy
Cultivating a love for learning in students is the delight of every WCA teacher. Creating new ways to share our passion for history, science, mathematics and grammar is both challenging and rewarding! (And yes, I did just say grammar!) However, a desire to learn has to be accompanied by the commitment to work hard in order for each student to reach his or her God-given potential. The classical and Christian model of education is rigorous; it demands the engaged mind of the student and the time-consuming discipline of the student’s efforts.
Work was an important and dignified part of representing the image of God and serving Him even before the fall. (MacArthur) In Genesis 2:15 ESV it says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it.” Our work is our service to God, and the Bible tells us to do it heartily. These ideas are lofty and sound noble, unfortunately, when we are still sitting at the kitchen table at 8:30 PM practicing spelling words, we often need reassurance. Be encouraged! The value of exercising the mind pays great benefits.
Consider that Paul often used the analogy of athletic training to help us understand the practice and the perseverance of faith. Similarly, think of the benefits of the training of the mind to obtain knowledge and understanding. Just as an athlete has to build up endurance and strength to be successful, our children must engage their minds in arduous labor in order to reap the benefits of learning. In her article entitled “What is Classical Education?” Susan Wise Bauer asserts the language-focus of the classical model. Children learn through the written and spoken word. She explains the benefits. “Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back” and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work.” (Bauer / The Well-Trained Mind) Knowledge, understanding and wisdom coupled with diligent effort cultivates a child who not only loves to learn but who also has the tools to do so.
We seek to nurture an inquisitiveness for new knowledge in our students. As we experience the joy of learning together, we demonstrate and encourage a commitment to a wholehearted work ethic. Children see us committed to formidable toil; they hear us encourage them for their hard work; we ultimately rejoice in the fruits of their labor. Students at WCA are forming the beautiful habits of life-long learners each day, and we are proud and heartened to come alongside you as you train up your children.
Kathy Foldesy earned her B.S. Education at Cleveland State University. She is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and teaches Grade 8 Humanities, Algebra, Pre-algebra, and Literature 6. Before coming to WCA in 2000, she began her career in public schools teaching grades 4, 5, and 6, middle school mathematics, English as a Second Language and even pre-school. She also has extensive background in youth ministry and is currently serving as a tutor for Building Hope in the City.
This article was originally published in our Excelsior! monthly newsletter.