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The Battle for the Intellect and Hearts of Our Children

By Kristen Zuccola, Upper School Dean and Humanities Chair

Verses 10-12 of Ephesians 6 say, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ” Paul, the spiritual and likely intellectual father of Timothy wrote these words warning the people of Ephesus to be aware of the invisible attacks on their thinking.

In light of this verse, I ask, “Who are your intellectual fathers?” That is, whose life philosophies drive your thinking, your motives, your decision making? Yours perhaps is Martin Luther or Charles Spurgeon. Maybe, however, you “subconsciously” ascribe to the philosophies of men who neither loved nor worshipped the one true God. In his book Atheism Remix, Albert Mohler explains that none of us lives in Martin Luther’s world; few live legitimately fearing we, or someone we love, “would die before nightfall.” In the 1500s, however, this was a reality; the life expectancy hovered between thirty and forty years of age. Today, it is seventy-five to eighty. Thus, the majority of the population doesn’t face the reality of eternity on a daily basis. We, as Christians, KNOW of eternity, but do we live each day in light of it?

Fewer than two hundred years after Luther, the intellectual tool of doubt emerged with the Enlightenment as did the fierce independence of man, man who could finally reroute rivers and communicate over long distances and cure diseases. It has become and remains praiseworthy in academia to doubt all things— not the least of which include the existence of God, the culpability for our sin, and the need for a Savior. Finally, atheism has grown up on the shoulders of the four men to whom Mohler refers as “the four horsemen of the modern apocalypse”: Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Sigmund Freud. I ask you a rhetorical question, “Have any of these intellectual fathers parented you? Parented those who taught you?”

You may shake your head but nod on the inside. Do you hesitate to witness to a person because he thinks like philosopher Nietzsche that “God is Dead?” Is that hesitation a miniscule subscription to the beliefs of a man whose philosophy ushered in the Third Reich? Maybe you don’t pray for a certain thing, thinking that you must simply stay tough through life’s minor challenges. Karl Marx said that “Religion is an opiate for the masses.” Do you think that you should be strong enough to overcome life’s difficulties without God? Then Karl Marx has whispered in your ear, “You shouldn’t need the opiate.” Maybe you think man as nothing but the sum of his parts— Darwin. Maybe your fleshly desires drive your decision making— Freud.

In a world where man is driven to earn more, experience more, love more, win more, acquire more, more, more, more, we fall prey to the lessons of the intellectual forefathers whose philosophies point us in any direction but heavenward. In the Upper School, we are methodically instructing the truths of the world, God’s world, saturated with His Truth, His Word. Ephesians 6 says that we struggle “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We are in the business, then, of equipping the minds for battle.

While magnifying great Christian thinkers like Luther, Sproul, and Augustine, and more, Upper School students in grades 7-12 look at the writings of the intellectual giants whose words continue to whisper to us through commercials, popular music, contemporary literature, and politics. Through the lens of scripture, we read Nietzsche and Marx wearing the belt of truth. Wielding the sword of the spirit, we read Twain, whose antagonism to Christianity saturates his literature. With a willingness to open our mouths boldly to proclaim the Gospel, we read Crane, whose Naturalistic literature systematically teaches the reader that man is a higher form of animal, driven by instinct alone, who will live, die, and then cease to exist.

Teachers who love these students teach the Truth: that there is but one Father, one who is intellectual as well as spiritual. He wants more from us than to just think. He wants us to obey, serve, protect, abide, and love. Through a classical approach to learning including carefully selected texts, weekly lecture, memorization of scripture, recitation of seminal texts, lively discussions, speech making, and more, students’ minds and hearts are consistently directed to their Heavenly Father as the one who not only created all so-called intellectual fathers, but who also reigned over them all. In the Upper School, we worship through our learning.

Parents, I encourage you to prayerfully consider what the Lord might have for your sons and daughters. Here, we endeavor to, as we must, pursue success in the worldly goals of achieving great test scores and getting into good colleges, but even-the-more we want to come alongside you in the training and intellectual equipping of your children to fight the fight against the cosmic powers over this present darkness. Last semester we memorized Ephesians 6 and will continue to memorize God’s word so that students know intimately the words of the One who made them and loves them. It is our prayer that they will know him as the father of all things, and rather than seek alone to live in the world, that they will seek— in all of their pursuits— to glorify Him. We worship through our learning, not for our own selfish gain, to win the whole world, but for the sake of the Kingdom.

Overcoming … and helping others do the same

By Sarah Miller, Speech-Language Pathologist/Certified Dyslexia Specialist

What do you want to be when you grow up? I could never answer this question with the title of a profession but answered by simply saying that I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives.

Born and raised in Westlake, OH, I graduated public high school and decided to attend Ohio University. On a whim, using an ancient phone system to register for classes, I registered for an elective course called, Introduction To Communication Disorders. I had no idea at the time, but God placed me in this class as the first step in beginning a life living in the fullness of God’s purpose. I listened to hours of lectures and read hundreds of text book pages learning about signs, symptoms, and treatments for speech disorders, voice disorders, swallowing disorders, fluency disorders, neurological disorders, social communication disorders, developmental disabilities, phonological processing disorders, language disorders, and dyslexia. I can vividly remember the uncomfortable, 1/2 desk style seat I was sitting in when my professor stood in front of the class and gave a lecture about me. Yes, me. This wasn’t her intention, but she described my exact experience at home and at school and gave it a name…dyslexia. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me this before?! I lived most of my childhood being told that I was a very smart kid and that I just needed to try harder, practice more, and apply myself. Thankfully, I had very involved parents with adequate resources to help guide me through school every step of the way even though they too would let words slip out that were far from encouraging at times. I learned important skills such as the ability to charm and convince teachers to give me extra time, use my notes, and/or alter my grades because consequences occurred with grades lower than a B. Can anyone guess what profession I decided to pursue after that life changing college class?

I graduated from Ohio University and continued my education by earning a Master’s degree from The Ohio State University in Speech-Language Pathology. Go Bucks! After that, I moved back to Westlake and began working for a non-profit in inner city Cleveland as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). I pursued extra training to become a certified dyslexia specialist and sought out mentorship from anyone with vast knowledge in language learning disabilities. After 5 years, I decided to start my own private practice focusing on school-age children with speech disorders and language learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

God led our family to WCA last year when we enrolled our oldest son (Cole, 9) after previously homeschooling. This year, Blake joined the WCA family as a Kindergartener and I partnered as the SLP in God’s perfect timing with the theme of Imago Dei. In the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for any Child by Cheryl Swope, she wrote, “With the firm grounding in the basics of classical education, one can begin to modify for an individual child’s needs without losing the aims and purposes essential to this rich tradition.”  It is my goal to come alongside our talented teachers and families to best support children and their specific learning needs so they can thrive in classical Christian education. I reinforce to my students that they are created in the image of God and that great minds often don’t think alike or learn alike. In John 16:33, Jesus reminds us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter the challenges we face, as Christian parents and educators, we can be assured that Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. WCA has become my home away from home as I spend most of my days working as the SLP or volunteering in the classrooms. When we are not at school, our family enjoys an active lifestyle and we are probably one of the few looking forward to the cold and snow that allows us to spend as much time as possible skiing the hills (wish we had mountains) of Ohio. I am honored to be a part of the WCA family and look forward to continuing to provide speech and language services to the WCA students this year and for years to come.

I can finally answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I want to be the person I needed in my life when I was young and be that person for other children and their families.

A Student’s Take on Classical Education

By Jayna Hoover, WCA High School Student

In a world where memorization is considered to be education and academic reward is solely performance based, the heart of schooling and scholarship has been lost in the pressures of test scores, GPAs, and having enough extracurriculars. Students are taught that the purpose of their education, their hard work, is to get into a “good college” and later have a high-paying job. But if administrations are focused only on creating people that can contribute to society, how does that affect the quality of the people whose minds they are shaping, and how does that teach them to think about who they are and about their purpose in life?

Because of my classical education, I am being given an advantage over my fellow peers. While I am memorizing a lot of information, earning good test scores, and am involved in many extracurriculars, I am being taught something of much greater value, something that can’t be measured with numbers: I am being taught how to think for myself. I am being taught formal logic, where I learn how to ask good questions, how to construct strong arguments, and how to identify weak ones in others. I am being taught the Great Books, about the cultures and times they were written in, how they impacted the people they were written for, and why they are still relevant today. I am being taught Latin, which I use in everyday life, despite it being considered a “dead language.” I am being taught rhetoric, where I learn how to improve my thinking, what makes a great speaker, and how to effectively and persuasively communicate my beliefs and convictions to others.

Most importantly, however, I have been taught to examine the world from a Christian worldview. I have been taught the Scriptures, and am writing them on my heart as I memorize them every week. I am reading large portions of the Bible, discussing its power, implications, and even its difficulties. I am being taught to view the world, view others, and view myself the way God does. What Classical Education means practically is that I get to learn the way countless generations before me have, and I get to learn how to reason, think, and write well in order to be taken seriously so I can impact the world for my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In a world where test scores and GPAs are teaching young minds that their purpose is to add to society, I am being taught how to think not only well, but for myself—that my purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

What My Classical Education Means to Me

By: Mr. Sasser, WCA Upper School Instructor
G.K. Chesterton once said that “Education is not a subject, and it does not deal in subjects. It is instead the transfer of a way of life.”

Classical education is not a new phenomenon. It is not some new idea that a few privileged modern literati have cooked up ex nihilo. Classical education is simply education, done right. The practice of education has undergone a series of experiments in the last 100 years or so. These experiments are collectively called Progressive Education. People like John Dewey, Johann Basedow, and Maria Montessori experimented with education. People have always sought to tweak and improve education, but Progressives sought to change education while operating off of false philosophical assumptions. Because of a mechanistic view of man they thought of education as the transfer of information, not as the transfer of a way of life or the transformation of a soul.

Classical education is simply the realization that these most recent experiments have not worked and that we need to return to the way education was done before. Classical education is simply education, done right. Education which does not deal in subject or facts, so much as in soul and humanity. Education deals not in transfer, but transformation. In the shaping of hearts rather than the stuffing of minds.

Classical teachers do not teach subjects; they teach students. Yes, we want our students to understand math, Latin, and Plato, but more than that we want to model for our students a love of learning, a love of God, and a love of others. We want to impart to our students a way of living that is true, good, and beautiful. We want to produce students who are good at algebra, but we are more concerned with nurturing students who understand and seek after virtue.

I have the privilege of having received a classical education. That means that I received an excellent education in facts. My thought processes have been shaped by the order, structure, and supreme logic of the Latin language. I am familiar and comfortable with the great works of our civilization. I know the stories that have made our culture what it is today. I have been trained in logic, geometry, linguistics, the scientific method, historical analysis, and many, many other subjects. The primary purpose and the best result of my education, however, has not been learning these subjects, but the way of life that was imparted to me.

I have been given a love of truth. Classical education teaches students not what, but how to think. The end of our thinking is to find truth. Christ and the Word of God are the ultimate source of truth. God has also revealed truth through His creation. The job of a thinking Christian is to seek out truth. To understand and interact with complicated and sophisticated arguments about the nature of the world. To discern truth from fiction. To love the truth, even when it is uncomfortable.

I have been given a love of beauty. God in His mercy has filled this world with beauty. The beautiful parts of the world transcend the pretty, the trite, and the pleasurable. Natural, unredeemed man, does not like being shown God. Beauty shows too clear a picture of who God is for natural man to love it. The goal of an education should be, as mine was, to teach children to love that which is more beautiful than they are: to love beauty.

I have been given a love of goodness. God is ultimately the source of goodness. All good things come down from the Father of Lights. It is not easy to love goodness. Man naturally loves the comfortable, the normal, the familiar, and the easy. God, however, desires goodness and confidently proclaims about every aspect of His great creative work that, “It is good.” My teachers gave me a desire to seek out the good, pursue excellence, and love righteousness.

My classical education taught me to love truth, beauty, and goodness. It was the people who taught me before they taught the material that made me into the person I am today.

Math, Science & Christ: How do they Mesh?

By Jason Hindall

How do we approach math and science from a Christian worldview? There are two primary reasons to explore the disciplines of mathematics and physical sciences from a Christian worldview, and those are: the fulfillment of the Creation Mandate found in Genesis 1 and as justification of our faith.

After God created humankind, he set them above all other beings to care for and protect His creation. Genesis 1:28 says “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” He has placed us in a representative authority role for his creation; we are stewards of that which He has made. In order to act in authority requires wisdom and understanding of the needs and relationships between the environment and its inhabitants. Science is the most appropriate tool to this end. The discovery of cause and effect in the world allows us to draw patterns of relationships and uncover the needs and interactions of each part of the system. We are to bring glory to God through the exploration of that understanding and then act upon it to improve the condition for humanity first and then for animal and plant prosperity. We have done this time and again through medicine, agriculture, invention and innovation.

Secondly, the pursuit of mathematics and science allows us to establish in our minds the certainty of God’s existence. The underlying motivation for the scientific revolution of the pre-enlightenment period occurred because men of faith sought to find the evidence of God’s order in his creation. The entire concept–that the universe is ultimately understandable–follows only if the universe flows from an ordered mind. And if this is the case, the evidence of that mind will be present in the laws and inner workings of that creation. We can know that God created the universe because mathematics works. In an uncaused universe, we have no right or claim as to why complex numerical relationships should be able to explain motion or predict events. However, the fact that we can very accurately model reality with numerical representations is because, I would argue, God created with intent for the physical to be clearly understood and trusted so that the claims he would make about the less observable aspects of spiritual realities could likewise be trusted. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

The deeper we peer into the complexities of the physical universe, the more the secular scientists fall into despair, recognizing as they face the necessity of choosing between the two options:  that either there is a God and we are supremely loved or the universe is meaningless and science can do nothing about that. Thankfully, we know that it is our loving God who orders it all.