A Better Admissions Test: Raising the Standard for College Entrance Exams

a-better-admissions-testIt was a real privilege to contribute to A Better Admissions Test: Raising the Standard for College Entrance Exams by Classic Learning Initiatives! It was especially delightful when my search for a primary source brought me to the University of Idaho special collections, and the inaugural address of Frederick Kelley, President of the University of Idaho in 1928. Kelley, the original creator of the standardized exam in 1915, changed his views with age and wisdom, and spent the latter part of his career advocating for classical liberal arts.

My chapter (Chapter 1) gives a brief history of entrance exams in the United States, starting with an overview of the classical liberal arts, a needed foundation to understand the change brought about by standardized testing.

Robert Bortins of Classical Conversations said it best about this book: “A must read for anyone in education or admissions who is brave enough to admit that things aren’t quite right in higher education any more.”

2016 Liberty-minded Voting Guide

For the past several elections, I have released a “voter guide” for my friends who ask me who I am voting for.
 

For those living in District 5 of Idaho (Latah and Benewah County), here is how I’m voting:

 

carl life quoteLOCAL ELECTIONS MATTER! PLEASE VOTE!

Print-friendly PDF: http://bit.ly/Voting_Guide_Print

English and the Latin Question

“We are all—more or less deliberately—students of English; we all recognize the value of accurately expressing our ideas and of exactly understanding the ideas of other. Now, though the notion has never dawned upon the large, good-humored, unenlightened public opinion which indirectly shapes our educational policies, to the serious student of English some acquaintance with Latin is not merely convenient, not merely valuable, but quite literally indispensable. At every onward step towards the mastery of his own language and literature he must use his Latin lamp if he has one, or stumble and go astray in the darkness if he has not. In this position the value of Latin is unique.”

—The Classical Weekly, Vol. V, No. 26. May 1912. Full column HERE (highly recommended!)

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Teaching to Tests

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“If the unhappy day ever comes when teachers point their students toward these newer examinations, and the present weak and restricted procedures get a grip on education, then we may look for the inevitable distortion of education in the terms of tests.”

—Carl Brigham, creator of the SAT recanting his invention, and arguing against its advancement.
From The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, by Nicholas Lemann

Education as a lifelong process

“Education is a lifelong process. How well any of us becomes educated does not depend essentially on how much he comes to know in his school and college years but rather upon how effectively he has come to be imbued with the spirit of study in school and college years so as to assure his remaining a student throughout life. It is amazing how general the notion seems to be that we study only when we have teachers who require it. Learning is the result of study! Teaching is not a substitute for learning but is only a stimulus to it. Teaching, then, should be confined to those fundamentals which serve best as a basis for subsequent learning. College days should not be wasted on those highly differentiated aspects of subjects, the mastery of which will naturally follow if genuine intellectual interests are created or stimulated during college years…College is a place to learn how to educate oneself rather than a place in which to be educated.”

—Frederick Kelly, The University in Prospect, Inaugural Address as President of the University of Idaho, 1928.

Hilary’s quote at the debate

Hilary commandeered this quote during the #debate (2nd Presidential Debate – Town Hall), but in great irony, neglected the context. America is not good. America has ceased to be both good and great. Let’s make America great again: fill our churches.
#SackclothAshes2016

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fiertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
—Alexis de Tocqueville, attributed

Broken Bread for Broken People

So the emptier you feel, the greater the need to come. There is fullness here, fullness for your emptiness. So the weight of your sin bears you down, but there is one here who will lift all of your burdens and will bear them away. So you feel sometimes as though your heart is black as hell, but here is edible light.

Humble yourself, and do not fear that adverb. Come.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

Douglas Wilson, inviting broken people to the broken bread.

Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Aeneid

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“How does Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain echo the main theme of the Aeneid?

The Aeneid describes in an epic fashion the destiny of the Roman people to bring peace to the world through conquering the nations and bringing civilization. Geoffrey directly echoes this idea as Brutus receives a prophecy that his descendants will govern the earth. So Geoffrey depicts the British people as being the heirs of the Roman destiny.

Defense of the Faith student workbook question, from Old Western Culture curriculum.

The River Thief, by N.D. Wilson (starring Joel Courtney) | Review

If you’re familiar with N.D. Wilson’s children’s novels, you know you’re in for a treat with The River Thief, his first feature film.

This film breaks from the typical Christian film by telling a good story first and foremost. A lost, father-hungry boy discovering true love. Not the sappy, romantic love of your typical Hollywood flick (this girl wouldn’t have any of that), but rather the kind of love that creates a longing to live or die for someone else (something new for Diz).

A wonderful family film, although there are some rough scenes. My 7-year-old son was spellbound, and somewhat affected by the rough parts. Yet this is the kind of story that is healthy. The emotion, drama, and violence of this *good* story are like emotional boot camp; it allows a young boy or girl to experience these emotions of grief and fear along with the positive life lesson that a good story provides.

As a resident of the Northwest where this was shot, I also appreciated the cinematography, which was outstanding! Beautiful aerial views in particular.
I highly recommend The River Thief!

Augustine on the use of Rhetoric

Christians need to learn the tools of Rhetoric both to persuade and to gain wisdom and understanding of our times.

“Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?”

—Augustine, On Christian Teaching (quoted in Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student by James B Nance).

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Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student | Illustrations

I’m really enjoying seeing the illustrations for Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student come together. Fitting Words will be a complete Rhetoric curriculum for the 10-12th grade (and above!).

Here are some of the original illustrations going into it, from illustrator George Harrell.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

Developing Memory

Developing Memory

Key_Concepts

Further Reading

Patrick Henry (1736–1799).  Henry was American founding father, orator, and governor of Virginia who advocated anti-federalism. “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” —“Give Me Liberty”

Patrick Henry (1736–1799).
Henry was American founding father, orator, and governor of Virginia who advocated anti-federalism.
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” —“Give Me Liberty”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC).  Cicero was a Roman statesman and philosopher, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time. “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.”  —Orator ad M. Brutum XXXIV.120

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC).
Cicero was a Roman statesman and philosopher, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time.
“Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.”
—Orator ad M. Brutum XXXIV.120

Could Your Child Enter Harvard In 1869?

What the entrance exam to Harvard university tells us about classical education in America.

In 1646 Harvard University adopted the following words, based on their mission statement, as part of their “Rules and Precepts”:

Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).

Thoroughly dedicated to Scriptures as the source of all Truth, Harvard sought to equip ministers and laymen with the tools for being effective citizens in the world, to the glory of God. How did they do this? Through classical education.

Some Christians hear about “classical” or “liberal arts” education, and assume it is an ancient, pre-Christian form of education. Historically liberal arts, meaning “freeing arts”, was the education of a freeman or nobleman, while vocational education was for a slave or serf. Some object that it is a pagan way to educate children, as opposed to Christian, and that “Classical Christian” is simply some kind of syncretism or oxymoron. Not only is this untrue, but it is ironically untrue. In order to dismiss “classical education” as pagan, you have to dismiss the entire history of Christianity in regards to education. The founding fathers of the United States provide a clear example. Not only were they classically educated themselves, but they considered classical education to be an important component to being a faithful, educated Christian. The entrance exam below, paired with the mission statement of Harvard, demonstrates this:

The HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY portion of the Entrance Exam for Harvard University, July 1869.

I. Bound the basin of the Po, of the Mississippi, of the St. Lawrence.

II. Name the chief rivers of Ancient Gaul and Modern France.   Is France later or smaller than Transalpine Gaul? What are the two principal rivers that rise in the Alps? Where is the Mount Blanc?

III. Where is the Source of the Danube? of the Volga? of the Ganges? of the Amazon?

IV. Describe the route of the Ten Thousand, or lay it down on a map.

V. Leonidas, Pausanias, Lysander.

VI. Pharsalia, Philippi, Actium, — geographically and historically

VII. Supply the two names left bank in the following passage from the Oration for the Manilian Law:

“Non dicam duas urbes potentissimas, Carthaginem et Numantiam ab eodem ________ esse deletas; non commemorabo nuper ita vobis patribusque esse visum, ut in uno _________ spes imperii poneretur, ut idem cum Jugurtha, idem cum Cimbris, idem cum Teutonis bellum administraret.” Who was Jugurtha? Where was Numantia?

VIII. Compare Athens with Sparta?

IX. Pericles: —the Man and his Policy.

See the entire exam (all subjects) HERE (PDF).

Students would answer from their knowledge of Julius Ceasar’s Gallic Wars in Latin, Xenophon’s Anabasis in Greek, and from the historians Herodotus and Thucydides. It was this education that enabled the American founding fathers to intentionally reject the (failed) “experiment in democracy” of ancient Athens, and to instead build a Constitutional and representative Republic, which was more like the Republic of Rome. Classical education shaped men like George Washington, and John Adams. But the Founders were not returning to something merely ancient. They were continuing the tradition of classical education as it was handed down from the earliest of Christian history, starting with the Apostles themselves, and going into the early Church, and on into the Middle Ages, and particularly strong among the Protestant Reformers. As little as 60-70 years ago, it was still taken for granted that an educated person would have a classical education. The idea that education would not be classical, or that classical education is opposed to Christian education, is a very novel and modern idea.

Wondering how to give your children the kind of education that would allow them to pass the entrance exam to Harvard in 1869? Roman Roads Media is the right place.

harvard-university-exam-1869-1024x576

Open Letter to Every Christian Parent with Children in Public School

Christian, is your child in a public school facing yet another wave of attacks on sanity and religious freedom? Will your daughter be using the restroom alongside a disturbed boy who “identifies” as a girl?

It’s time to opt out!

I’m not going to spend time making the case that you should opt out. I really hope that Christians are seeing that in most situations today, this is the obvious conclusion. But rather, I want to answer the objection “what is the alternative?” How do we opt out?

It may not be easy, and some situations are harder than others, but there are incredible opportunities available today to give your children a CHRISTIAN education. You really CAN opt out! More than ever before in history, parents are equipped with the tools to make this possible, whether books, video courses, online courses, curriculums for every learning style, and of course, private schools. There is a solution for just about every situation, every budget, and every style of learning. All of these scenarios require dedication, but nearly every true obsticle is now removed.

I have dedicated my own career to providing one answer to this question. Through the company I founded, Roman Roads Media, we provide Christian classical curriculum designed specifically for the homeschool, with an emphasis on video and online learning. Our speciality is 6-12 grade classical subjects.

But we are one of many. Let me name you just a few of my friends, all doing their part to answer this question:

For homeschool:

For Private schools:

Can you not afford the education? There are ways: scholarships, talk to your church, or talk to me if you’re interested in our curriculum.
But please, Christian, #OPTOUT! For the dedicated parent, there are always opportunies. And I will help any way I can.

Sincerely,
Daniel Foucachon.

Founder, Roman Roads Media,
publisher of Christian classical curriculum

Photograph: Toby Talbot/AP. Originally appeared as a Facebook Note, and on New City Times

Singing for Eileen – a paltry earthy choir to send her off

Eileen was too weak to go to church, so we brought the worship to her window this evening, with three hymns of her choosing. Her battle with cancer has been an incredible testimony of her faith. Read Mike’s latest update here.

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YouTube version.

From Rachel Jankovic:

We gathered to sing today to a dear saint who is in the final stages of cancer and can no longer come to worship with us. A paltry earthly choir to send her off – only a small picture of the far more glorious choir gathered to receive her. Eileen Lawyer – we love you and we will miss you! Thank you for having lived so well with the time you had. Packing a much longer lifetime of serving the saints into the time God planned for you. May we all be so fruitful, may we all be so faithful, and may we all love as fiercely -May God grant us the grace to follow in your train.

“A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
in robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
to follow in their train.”

Great Books Challenge for Parents 2016

Welcome to the 2016 Great Books Challenge for Parents! This Challenge is for any parent, but especially for parents who plan to classically homeschool their children, or who are currently homeschooling their children.

Classical homeschoolers love Old Western Culture because they see their children coming to the dinner table full of stories, and thirsty for knowledge and wisdom. Make 2016 the year classical learning comes alive in your home, and earn free curriculum in the process!

Last year’s Great Books Challenge, centered around Virgil’s Aeneid, was a tremendous success! This year we are going to continue and build upon that challenge, adding the following unit, Romans: The Historians, to the challenge. Romans: The Historians, covers the most famous men of Rome, as well as the history of Rome, the persecution of the early Christians, and how the Roman empire influenced the West, especially the founding of the United States.

THE 2016 GREAT BOOK CHALLENGE FOR PARENTS


YouTube version

FREE CURRICULUM!

If you complete the challenge by December 31st, 2016, you will qualify for a free unit from the Old Western Culture curriculum, which includes the video set ($56 value), the workbook ($12), and the accompanying Reader ($22 value).

IN ORDER TO QUALIFY, YOU MUST:

  • Be a parent (children of any age, including expecting).
  • Watch all 12 lectures from either The Aeneid, or The Historians.
  • Complete all reading assignments from either The Aeneid, or The Historians.
  • Fill THIS FORM (form link coming soon) indicating that you completed the above before December 31st, 2016.

FIRST THREE PARENTS TO COMPLETE THE CHALLENGE:

This Great Books Challenge is not a race, however the first three parents to finish the challenge and fill the form on this page will receive a special prize!

  • First Place: $50 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Second & Third Place: $15 Amazon Gift Certificate

20% OFF TO HELP YOU GET STARTED

To help you get started, we are offering 20% off the price of the materials associated with the Challenge. Enter code “challenge2016” during checkout for a 20% discount on all items related to the Challenge (DVD set, Workbook, and Reader).

“WHY ARE YOU GIVING AWAY FREE CURRICULUM?”

We are convinced that parents who use Old Western Culture will LOVE it. And when a parent loves a curriculum, they tell their friends. And word-of-mouth is the BEST way to let people know about this curriculum. We’re spending most of our time making this the best literature curriculum available, and we need help spreading the word. So help us by USING it, and telling your friends!

Get Started with The Aeneid Challenge
The Aeneid
Get Started with The Historians Challenge
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COMPLETED CHALLENGE FORM

Click HERE (link coming soon) to fill out the form when you have completed the challenge. The form includes an option for choosing your free unit.

TESTIMONIALS FROM LAST YEAR

I’m including a few comments from parents who finished last year’s Great Books Challenge for Parents.

Hi, I finished the parent Aeneid challenge yesterday and I am so very happy I did it. Not only am I much more prepared to help my children learn the material in a few years when they reach high school age, but I absolutely loved reading the books! I was a science major in college and never really “got” the excitement for literature and history. Now I realize that literature and history are foundational to our western society. They have become the subjects central to our little homeschooling effort.
– Kirsten

I have now finished the Aeneid Challenge and much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed and understood it all. I was terribly intimidated before I began but within the first lesson my apprehension evaporated and I couldn’t wait to move on to the next section! Thanks so much for issuing the challenge as I can’t wait to begin with my daughter in a few months!
– Sarah

Hi there, I took up the Aeneid challenge this year and wanted to let you know that I completed it! The Aeneid was the first “Great book” I have ever read and I am amazed at how much I have learnt.
– Cindy

Hello!
I wanted to let you know that I have completed the Great Books Challenge using the Aeneid. Actually, my husband and I did it together after we put the kids to bed (they are in elementary grades) and called it a weekly ‘date night’. 😉
Being publicly educated, we didn’t have the education that we hope to give our children and had very little exposure to most of the ‘greats’ (both books and individuals). I suggested we begin to learn these things now, though our children are younger, so we will know a bit about what we will be teaching when the time comes. Your great books challenge was just the impetus we needed to dive in- and we are so glad we did!
We were both amazed at the vast knowledge that just seeps out of Wes Callihan–it is clear he is not reading from a script but teaching through conversation…a style we both loved. And he teaches in such a way that even huge spans of history or daunting subjects can be made both understandable, fascinating and downright pleasant to discover.
We are very excited for this incredible resource for ourselves presently and for our children in the future! 
– Rebecca and Matt

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Great Books Challenge 2016

Originally appeared on Roman Roads Media Blog. Written by Daniel Foucachon.