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Archive for February, 2010

Excerpt from “Discarded Image Part 2”

Guest writer:  Bill Perrine (for more on this subject check out http://offthebox.wordpress.com/)  Please field comments in his direction.

” According to a Gallup poll from about ten years ago, nearly one in five Americans believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. So far from being a fringe issue, this is an important problem that needs discussion. This is a worldview issue as much as it is a discussion of scientific illiteracy. I find it hard to believe that 18% of the American population has never heard of the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. It seems more likely that people simply choose not to believe. Given that polls consistently show that around 40% of the American public believes in a young earth, it is a fair assumption that due to their religious underpinnings a strong correlation exists between the two beliefs, and that nearly half of those who believe in Young Earth Creationism also adhere to tenets of Geocentrism. With this in mind, what do the major organizations promoting young earth doctrines have to say about this phenomenon? Do they advocate for at least a basic level of scientific understanding on this issue?  I will discuss this question next time.”

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I’ll resume education again, but since I haven’t blogged in a while I thought I’d touch on this subject.  I was discussing it with Bill and I tought I’d see what other people, perhaps more intelligent in this area, thought.

I currently work as an aide in a pre-k classroom for special needs.  (I am certified as a teacher but with the economy…well…)  Most of our children are on the autism spectrum.  In fact, recent data is now suggesting that 1/70 boys are born with autism.  The rate is increasing dramatically, and no one really knows why.  While I’d love to investigate the reasons of what causes autism, I’m going to wax philosophical instead.  Working with these children has made me reflect on what it truly means to be human.

I know that I was taught, and I’m going to assume that many young “conservative” Christians are also taught, that reason separates humanity from the animal kingdom.  This idea is largely based on Aristotle.  He was the first philosopher to propose that to be human was to reason.  I should also mention that Plato was the first to suggest that it was the soul.  Christianity was so intrinsically wrapped up in Greek philosophy that both of those ideas were rapidly absorbed.  Most world religions have some variation on the soul or afterlife.  Greeks believed in a soul but not a resurrection.  The Jews believed in a bodily resurrection.  Question: is the idea of the soul in the Jewish Scriptures or is it a concept that was added onto Christianity later?  By later I mean either the New Testament or early Christian Philosophy.  What does it mean to have a soul?

In the earliest records of the Torah, the book of Genesis, it is written that man is created in the image of God.  God is said to be spirit so the word image can not indicate a physical likeness.  Again for the longest time, I believed it was man’s ability to reason.  I studied the animal kingdom and came to the conclusion that animals have instinct only.  As a human we not only have instincts but we have rationality and free will (sorry not a neo-calvanist ;).  Then I began to work with children with autism.  A whole new world academically and philosophically was opened up to me.  I work with children who don’t make eye-contact, have little to no communication, many don’t have the instinct to eat, and have no social skills.  Yet, those of us that work with these children see them as non-functioning little humans.  We love on them, and try to help them become functioning people.  I hate to make the comparison, but some act very similarly to the ape species.  However, the apes and other animals still have instincts and social skills.  Many of my children don’t even have these. 

So what is it that makes us human?  An abstract concept-and clearly undefined- called a soul?  Genetics?  Reason?  Creativity?  And to what exactly does “image of God” refer?  I’d love for comments from people who have some insight or find my conundrum puzzling as well.

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 I’m continuing my research into Classical Education, and thought I should touch on the subject of homeschooling. There is an abundance of educational material for those that are being homeschooled in the Classical Tradition.  While I would never wish to take away a parent’s right to school their own child, I do have some reservations about the homeschooling “profession.” Know that it is not my intention to offend or alienate anyone-these (as all blogs are) are simply my opinion. If you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment. Also, I am intently searching for more classical educational information. I have found a great deal of information, but have yet to research any particular curriculum. If you have any information regarding classical education, please don’t hesitate to drop a link. I’m toying with the idea of getting a curriculum degree and beginning a school with a mixed essentialist and classicist curriculum.

 Often to support the case for homeschooling, some point to history and state that most of people from the earliest times have been schooled at home. This is really a vast misunderstanding about schools and the type of education that people received. (more…)

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Why is looking for a church so difficult? All I want is a good Sunday School class and good sermons. Didn’t think I was too picky until I was refused communion during a church service.

We understood going in that the service had a closed communion.  However, even though I disagree with the practice what really upset me was the division that the communion caused.

According to some protestant (and Catholic) churches, they reserve the right to with hold communion from those whom they deem unworthy or from those they simply do not know.  I understand the rational behind the limit setting.  They base it upon the belief that Communion is sacred and those partaking should not partake in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11:27-32).  Completely true and accurate.  However, is it the churches right to judge if you are a worthy candidate for communion?  Or should a church not offer it to you if you aren’t a member of that particular church? (more…)

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  What do Christians today actually believe about their faith? For too many people it has become a feel good experience every Sunday. We are raising a generation who has become afraid of learning the Bible and learning about Biblical traditions. Are mainstream denominations afraid to tell people about their theology and doctrines because it might offend? People believe different things about the Bible.  Just because a church has a certain stance in an area of doctrine doesn’t mean that you can’t attend that church.  I find it refreshing to have a church publish their beliefs because than I know exactly what kind of belief structure I am going to encounter.  Some would argue that denominations divide the church, and that we should have more churches which are more non-denominational.  These so called non-denominational churches are honestly like getting the generic brand at Wal-mart.  It’s safe, non-offensive, and you know just what to expect.  But why settle for the cheap version of Christianity?  These churches can’t offer too much in deep theological thinking, unless they are willing to risk actually finding out what the people in their congregations believe.  Also, what kind of spiritual food can be offered at such generic churches?  Answer: Generic sermons (more…)

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In Defense of Cognitive Psychology and against the Destructive Nature of Constructivism

While I defend a balanced view of psychological thinking, and even educational philosophy, I have to defend those areas which I think are especially important and have come under attack in recent years.  This blog is in support of the Classical Education Model and uses contemporary cognitive psychology to give the Classical Model strength from outside sources.  (Good Reading : Daniel Willingham, Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom) (more…)

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I will be doing a series of blogs in defense of Classical Education.  In order to fully understand how important I believe a new curriculum is needed in the U.S., one needs to understand basic historical background of the current development of our modern curriculum. 

Some of this essay deals with the Social Studies curriculum and American Citizenship.  However, I tried to re-write the essay to apply to all modern curriculums.  (more…)

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