My second day at the ACCS conference was eventful. I was able to land an interview with Douglas Wilson. The reason I was able to land the interview? Well, he's a gracious person and was willing to give me a small chunk of his morning. And I also semi-stalked him through the hotel convention center and made sure I was able to shake his hand and talk with him. Expect the interview to be released on the podcast early next week. We had a good talk about his writing and work ethic, about being a "polemical" writer, and about why he's not Anglican (even if he is "high church" and "mid-to-high liturgy".
Wilson is a bit of a celebrity in our circles and can be a divisive figure (because he holds strong opinions and he lets people know about them). Quick bio: he's basically the main founder of Classical Education in America, he's the pastor of Christ Church in Moscow Idaho, and he's written enough books to use as bricks to build one of those tiny houses.
[UPDATE: you can now stream my interview with Wilson here]
To be honest, this second day (and last for us) was a bit of a blur for myself and Aletheia's teachers. Our brains are all a bit mushy at this point. The addresses and workshops were not hitting me as hard as yesterday. However, and if you are an Aletheia parent here is what you'll want to read, these are my takeaways from the conference:
1. I am incredibly encouraged by the ACCS. The people in leadership and the normal folk I met just like me have gained my utmost respect. These people love God, the Scriptures, and the children we are called to teach. They also love good books and big ideas. There is a wonderful spirit here and a unification surrounding our call to give our children an excellent education, but to do so out of a deep love for them and to do so by providing an environment permeated with imagination, awe, and wonder.
2. The amount of books in the world is overwhelmingly glorious and daunting. I read the titles of and perused through so many good looking books that I know I will never read. I bought 2 books by Douglas Wilson, 1 book by N.D. Wilson, and one book called Ten Ways to Destroy The Imagination of Your Child. On top of this, there are plenty of great Classical method curriculums out there. As an educator though, you eventually have to choose and then stick with your curriculums in all the various subjects. (For the record: I happen to think our school's curriculum is excellent, even though we've made a few changes over the years and could always use improvement)
3. I was encouraged to learn more about a more Classically oriented standardized test that our school will begin using next year, which you can learn about here: https://www.erblearn.org/services/ctp-overview
4. I begun learning about another online record keeping and parent communication service that my school could use, although they do not presently have all the features we need. However, they seem like a much better service than the one we are currently using.
5. As a headmaster, I was greatly encouraged by the workshops I attended and by meeting 2 other headmasters. The workshops gave me vision to see how we can help our school grow in practical ways and the headmasters I met helped me to see I can lead our school through my giftings and that I can find others to come alongside and take up the areas where I lack. I tend to be a big-picture visionary type with an artistic mentality. My gifts lay in inspiring people to the vision of the school and in counseling both teachers and students. I am a consensus builder and negotiator. I allow others the freedom to excel in their own giftings. However, when it comes to the details and to the overall organization of the school I need the help of others. As the years go on, this is where we will have to find more leaders to assist the needs of the school.
6. Amidst the praise I do have a few concerns that I won't go into at any depth here because of their complexity. These are not major concerns, but instead issues worth dialoguing about as leaders of the Classical Ed. movement. I'll leave you with a few enticing buzzwords: a). as Euro-centrists there is a fear of "multiculturalism" when it comes to our approach to history and art, b). there are some who seem to want our children to fall into monochromatic behavior, that they should fall in line and look and act the same way, and c). I would like to see more women in leadership roles in the association, especially since (from my perception) the majority of the conference consisted of women.
7. Here's the biggest charge I took away as an educator: "all of our classes should be primarily about character development and spiritual formation." Giving this focus to our classes takes nothing away from our academics. Instead, the principle is that our academic goals should flow out of the desire to develop the characters of our students and to guide them into the lifelong pursuit of glorify God and reflecting Christ in all that they do.
I'm signing off for now. Our plane leaves earl-aye in the morning.
Here's my recap of day one of the conference.
Introducing Classical Education
3 Great Challenges Facing Classical Education as a Movement