When people ask me how I became involved in the Classical Christian movement, my default response is that God called me to it after Graduate school. While that’s true, it’s not the whole story. After I completed my Master’s thesis at Baylor University, a mentor recommended I apply to a scrappy startup school called Live Oak Classical in downtown Waco. What followed were two incredible years teaching Latin and math in Grammar School, medieval and renaissance history in the School of Logic, as well as coaching volleyball and basketball to our student-athletes in the School of Rhetoric.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to remain in the classical Christian environment the past six years, growing in my understanding and love of it as a classroom teacher at Regents school of Austin.
But if God called me into the world of Classical Christian education after graduate school, I do not want to overlook the possibility that he qualified me for it in my pre-graduate school upbringing. He did this by placing me in a home where farming was a large part of life. Yes, farming had something to do with my preparation for the world of Classical education.
You see, my Dad is the owner of a tree farm in Canada called Maple Leaf Nurseries. Growing up, it was simply “the farm” and aside from school or home, it was the place where most of my time was spent. Despite protests of wanting to sleep in and hang out with friends in the summer after 5th grade, my Dad decided he would bring me and my brother to the farm to work. As you can imagine, we weren’t exactly thrilled. Year after year, all the way up through college and even for a number of summers after college, I returned to work at the farm. These summers were characterized by early mornings pulling weeds, pruning trees, or making cuttings to propagate new trees. Summer days also meant long afternoons and evenings digging trees, moving irrigation pipes, and loading trucks.
It’s easy to romanticize farm work, and so I will not pretend I always did these jobs joyfully. My preference would have been to stay in school, or to be somewhere, anywhere, surrounded by books.
But looking back on those years – and on the farmers and farm work that shaped the world in which I grew up – I’ve come to notice that the way in which a farmer “attends to his work” is similar to the way we are called to attend to the work of classical Christian education.
This year, we will unpack this observation and explore five ways in which a farmer directs his attention; that is, upward (on God), outward (on the world), inward (on his heart), backward (on the past), and forward (on the future). We will also elaborate on these five ways of attending to our work with stories from the co-teaching and teaching world at Austin Classical School. We hope that stories from the breakfast table all the way to the front of the classroom, will bridge theory to reality, and provide you with some useful tools for your teaching tool belts.
For Christ and His glory.
Head of School
Austin Classical School