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It's Bigger Than "What do I need to do to get an A?"

January 20, 2017
By Lindsey Fain

{written by Lindsey Fain, Rhetoric I Teacher, 11th Grade}

With three small children, our family frequents the local playgrounds and parks where small talk with fellow adults naturally surfaces. One of the first questions posed seems to be, “Well, what do you do?” To which I respond, “I teach Rhetoric at Providence Christian School.” Blank stare and: “Rhetoric? What is that?” What follows is my dream answer, the answer I would always share if there were the time and interest:

Let's start at the beginning. Genesis 1:28 is known as the “creation mandate.” God calls His people to have dominion over His creative work. This call to “form and fill the creation” is affirmation that humankind was created as a rational learner. To say that we are rational learners implies, not only being able to make sense of knowledge, but also to use knowledge in constructive, redeeming ways. In his book, Educating for Life, author Nicholas Wolterstorff observes, “Christian education must educate for the full life of the person. It cannot teach only for development; it must also teach for healing and reconciliation.”

Rhetoric I and II are required during the Junior and Senior years at Providence. They are culminating courses encompassing the Trivium's classical skills of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Both courses afford the students opportunities to select a contentious topic, research it, grapple with it, and formulate a persuasive thesis. The resulting paper is written from a Biblical worldview and must be academic in nature. The students arrange an oral presentation and deliver a defense in front of an audience of peers and a panel of three faculty judges.

Spearheaded by our Educational Philosophy, Core Values, Graduate Profile, and Mission and Vision, PCS aspires to the following in all of our coursework:

To promote principled thinking by helping each student develop a Biblical worldview, consistently applied to every area of life.

To cultivate in each student a life-long love of learning and pursuit of academic and moral excellence for the purpose of bringing glory to God alone.

To train and equip each student to be a servant-leader who has an impact on those God puts within his or her reach by living a God-honoring life.

The ultimate desire of each pioneer man and woman who envisioned a school that would not merely challenge students to academic excellence but, more importantly, enable students to profess a Biblical world-and-life view is evident. There was a yearning to create a community that would expose students to the unsettling injustices, hurts, and needs of this world in order that they may aspire to do something about it. In other words, students would become cultural transformers and not simply treat education and all that it entails as a contractual process. Students' journeys with the thesis is a powerful way we promote the aforementioned.

The beauty of a Rhetoric course within the classical Christian school is that it seeks to equip students with a worldview that effectually shapes writing and speaking. Moreover, students are not exclusively exposed to Christian curriculum. They are encouraged to exercise their worldview and Scriptural imagination, acknowledging true and beautiful insights no matter where the Lord, in his common grace to humanity, has decided to plant them. If Christian education truly seeks to equip and exhibit Christian leadership -- then what more appropriate place than the Christian school to expose students to social injustices, to encourage them to wrestle with issues, to coach them to discoveries about complex topics?

A few of the current topics include “The Christian Approach to Tattoos,” “Politics: The Divided States not the United States,” “Human Beings: Modern Slaves to Technology,” and “The Role of Women in the Church.” The desire in having students engage in learning through research, writing, debate, and defense via cultural topics is that they will acknowledge their redemptive and restorative role in a fallen world. It is "Mission Accomplished!" if their work pierces their hearts in a way that is unsettling, causing them to think for themselves and respond to, “What am I going to do about this?” This is intentional preparation for vocation, aptly defined by pastor Frederick Buechner as the following: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Where is that place? Each student has to prayerfully take this journey of scholarship to know.

Teachers, parents, pastors, and coaches often allege that school is an attempt to “prepare students for the real world.” This statement is perplexing because the truth is students already live in the “real world.” Moreover, the classical subject of Rhetoric is overflowing with opportunities to foster learning in an academic, as well as, social context. The working definition of Rhetoric is the art of a good man speaking well. Rhetoric helps students develop their minds to think critically and to eloquently articulate their beliefs to others through writing and speech.

Junior and Senior thesis are often the most meaningful learning experiences for our students, helping students make sense of a sinful and fallen world. In the end, teachers, as well as the methods of Rhetoric in the classical Christian school, exist to be transformational in our students’ and families’ lives. It helps build-up students who develop “mental furniture,” which allow them to delight in God’s creation, grapple with injustice, become involved in the healing processes of society, and ultimately—and rationally—act on that knowledge of Truth in hopes that they make their way in this world with passion and purpose (instead of merely making a mark on this world).

Equipping Students. Following Christ. Changing the World.

Event Facility Time Notes
Sunday - June 30, 2019
 
Monday - July 1, 2019
 
Tuesday - July 2, 2019
 
Wednesday - July 3, 2019
 
Thursday - July 4, 2019
 
Friday - July 5, 2019
 
Saturday - July 6, 2019