Cultivating Spirituality and the Challenge of Digital Screen Technology

Digital screen technologies are playing an ever-increasingly present role in our lives and the lives of our students. While such technologies have many benefits, they also pose a number of significant challenges to the cultivation of spirituality. In this seminar, we will begin by considering some important truths about the nature of any technology. We then will examine three key aspects of cultivating a spiritual life that are uniquely challenged by digital screen technologies: solitude, contemplative silence, and engagement with reality. Finally, we will address a number of practical methods that we can use to help our students and ourselves navigate these challenges.

David Diener

Dr. David Diener began his formal post-secondary education at Wheaton College, where he graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Ancient Languages. A er pu ing his philosophical training to work by building custom cabinets and doing high-end nish carpentry for an Amish company, he moved with his wife to Bogotá, Colombia, where they served as missionaries for three years at a Christian international school. He then a ended graduate school at Indiana University, where he earned an MA in Philosophy, an MS in History and Philosophy of Education, and a dual PhD in Philosophy and Philosophy of Education. He has taught at The Stony Brook School on Long Island, served as Head of Upper Schools at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, TX, and currently is the Head of School at Grace Academy in Georgetown, TX. He also teaches philosophy courses for Taylor University as an Adjunct Professor. The Dieners have four wonderful children and are passionate about classical Christian education and the impact it can have on the church, our society, and the world.

Did Rome Fall? And Other Historical Questions That We Need to Ask But Seldom Do

Historical “facts” do not speak for themselves. They have meaning only when we place them into a narrative frame. As Christian educators we need to teach our history students to interrogate the historical narratives that frame our conceptions (and misconceptions) of the past: Was there a Renaissance? The Middle Ages occurred in the middle of what? Did the Puritans dominate the culture of colonial New England? Did the generation gap widen in the 1960s?

Christopher Schlect

Christopher Schlect, PhD, has worked in classical and Christian education for over 25 years. As Fellow of History at New Saint Andrews College, he teaches courses in ancient and medieval civilizations, US history, American Christianity, medieval education, and Classical Rhetoric, among other subjects. He has also taught introductory and advanced courses in U.S. history and Ancient Rome at Washington State University. He is the Director of New Saint Andrews College’s graduate program in Classical and Christian Studies. He taught history and the Bible at Logos School in Moscow, ID, for many years, and serves classical and Christian schools around the country through his consulting and teacher-training activities. His published writings appear in various school curricula and other outlets. Schlect’s research in 20-century Protestant church life has earned numerous competitive grants and fellowships, and he has presented his research at meetings of the American Historical Association, the American Society of Church History, the American Academy of Religion, and the Idaho Council for History Education. He was recently named the 2016–17 distinguished lecturer for the Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities. His historical work includes service as a ranger for the U.S. National Park Service, where he specialized in Protestant missions to the Nez Perce people and interpreted historical sites and material culture for members of the public. Schlect is a teaching elder at Trinity Reformed Church (CREC) in Moscow, ID. He and his wife, Brenda, have five children, all products of a classical and Christian education. They also have one grandchild.

Why Can’t They Just Sit Still? An Exploration of Dualism’s Impact on Modern Education

The culture of American education is increasingly focused on one goal: higher performance at a younger age. As a result, very young hearts are anxious and fearful under the pressure of expectations that are perhaps beyond their ability. Our pre-kindergarten to elementary children struggle to sit “properly” in classrooms and wield a pencil to demonstrate their intelligence. Is the dualism of mind/body separating us into minds to be filled and bodies to be subdued? How do young children learn as whole human beings? This session will relate our contemporary understanding of child development to a basic truth of classical education: that man is created in the image of God.

Athena Oden

Athena Oden is the owner and operator of Ready Bodies, Learning Minds and consults with public and private schools and nonpro t organizations for children. She has presented at the local, state, national, and international level on topics dealing with the neurological and physiological development of the child in the classroom. As the author of the book/curriculum Ready Bodies, Learning Minds: A Key to Academic Success (ReadyBodies, 2006), she hopes to help children and schools perform at their peak. She earned her degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch and has spent the past 30 years in pediatrics. Athena has a passion for classical education, old musty books, and a good cup of tea. She and her husband, David, classically homeschooled their three children and live in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

Recovering the Lost Tools of Loving: The Missing Link Between Truth and Goodness in Christian Education

Douglas Wilson’s 1991 Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning in classical Christian education enjoys continued growth to this day. Since that time, much has been written about the conservation of the Judeo-Christian liberal arts tradition of academics. Classical teaching methods and curricula have been emphasized as tools to help children learn how to think logically and biblically about the world. However, how do we teach our children to not only know what is lovely but also to love what is lovely? In this session, Dr. Aniol will discuss the Judeo-Christian tradition of Beauty, or rightly ordered loves, as the missing link between right thinking and right action, in order to teach our children to be complete Christians in mind, will, and emotions.

Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol, PhD, is an author, speaker, and teacher of culture, worship, aesthetics, and church ministry philosophy. He is on the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; he founded Religious Affections Ministries; he lectures around the country in churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries; and he has authored several books and dozens of articles. Scott is the Managing Editor of Artistic Theologian, a scholarly journal of worship and church ministry, and serves on the steering committee of the Biblical Worship section of the Evangelical Theological Society. Scott holds a PhD in worship and ministry (SWBTS), a master’s degree in Theological Studies (SWBTS), a master’s degree in Aesthetics (NIU), and a bachelor of music in Church Music (BJU). Scott has served as associate pastor, minister of music, and an elder in churches in Illinois, North Carolina, and currently at Church of Christ the King in Fort Worth. Scott travels around the country and internationally through the ministry he started in 2008, Religious Affections Ministries (www.religiousa, speaking at churches, Christian colleges, seminaries, and conferences. He has written three books, Worship in Song: A Biblical Philosophy of Music and Worship (BMH Books, 2009), Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World (RAM, 2010), and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture (Kregel, 2015). He has also presented academic papers at various meetings such as the Evangelical Theological Society and has dozens of articles and book reviews published in scholarly journals. Scott and his wife, Becky, classically homeschool their two children, Caleb and Kate.

Teaching Sentence Diagramming as Storytelling

In his book Teaching as Story Telling, Kieran Egan encourages teachers to incorporate imaginative storytelling techniques into our lessons. But how can we teach grammar as a story? How can diagramming sentences spark the imagination? The aim of this workshop is to explore how to set up the task of diagramming sentences as a mystery to be explored. Students will delight in the challenges of road-mapping sentences and solidify their understanding of the structure of language when it begins in wonder.

Catherine McChristian

Ms. Catherine McChristian is the sixth-grade lead teacher at The Cambridge School in San Diego. She has taught sixth grade in classical schools for five years. She is a member of the Torrey Honors Institute, a classical Great Books program at Biola University in California. She earned a BA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in English as well as a multiple-subject teaching credential from Biola. Ms. McChristian loves teaching in the Christian classical community, where she has the opportunity to teach and collaborate with those who share her passion for effectively training students to live purposeful, Christ-centered lives. She especially enjoys the challenges of supporting sixth-graders as they prepare to transition from the end of grammar school to the rigors of logic school.

Wonder Leads to Worship

Constant saturation with technology can produce students who are jaded and apathetic. However, humans bearing the divine image are designed to contemplate the wonders produced by the divine hand and worship the creator in response. In this workshop, we will examine the role of wonder at creation in the process of discipleship. We will also explore a number of practical teaching methods and resources that science teachers can use to lead their students toward worship of our creator through contemplation of his amazing works.

John Mays

John holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, an MEd in Secondary Education, and a master’s of Liberal Arts. He served as the Math-Science Department Chair at Regents School from 2001–2009, then became Director of the Laser Optics Lab at Regents. He founded Novare Science & Math in 2009, and is the author of numerous student science texts and teacher resources. Now working full time as a writer, publisher, and consultant, John continues to teach part time at the Laser Optics Lab at Regents.

Latin Leaning in the Age of Amnesia

Although many classical educators readily acknowledge the importance of the verbal and mathematical arts, there is often less con dence about the importance of studying Latin. Is Latin really essential to a Christian education in today’s cultural context? One dif culty with most arguments for the study of Latin is that they present it as a means to something that can also typically be achieved by other means—whether an improved vocabulary, cultural literacy, a better SAT score, or an improved ability to learn modern languages. Are there any bene ts that come only through knowing Latin? I suggest that there are; however, those bene ts are hidden from us because we typically suffer from an amputated imagination. Only by addressing this failure of imagination can we begin to understand why Latin is crucial for a Christian education that aims to prepare students for wise action in the so-called “age of information.” This presentation rst explains how the study of ancient (rather than modern) languages is uniquely suited for Christian education based on the verbal arts. We shall then consider how Latin is unique among ancient languages in that it equips students to practice intellectual leadership in any area of modern human inquiry. These practical bene ts are not obvious to us, I suggest, because we inhabit the “age of amnesia,” which systematically obscures from us the relevance of the past in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Phillip Donnelly

Dr. Phillip J. Donnelly is Associate Professor of Literature in the Honors College at Baylor University, where he serves as Director of the Great Texts Program. His research focuses on the historical intersections between philosophy, theology, and imaginative literature, with particular a ention to Renaissance literature and the reception of classical educational traditions. The topics of his published work range from St. Augustine and post-modern critical theory to the Renaissance poetry of George Herbert and John Milton. This presentation is part of a larger book project on the verbal arts.

Why Rhetoric is Not a Subject, Why Every Subject Needs Rhetoric, and How to Teach It

Our fragmented age tends to think of everything we do in school as a subject, no more or less important than any other subject. Kern contends that Rhetoric is so important that it should not even be considered a subject. Indeed, teaching Rhetoric properly may well be the most important thing you teach in your school.

Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern is the Founder and President of CiRCE Institute. He has also helped found Providence Academy, Ambrose School, Great Ideas Academy and Regents Schools of the Carolinas. Andrew is the co-author of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America, The Lost Tools of Writing and The CiRCE Guide to Reading. Andrew is also a consultant and founded the CiRCE apprenticeship.

Puzzle, Proof, and Play: A Pedagogy of Wonder for Mathematics

Most math teachers love mathematics and one of their greatest desires is to nurture a similar love in their students. But more often than they might like, the structure of the mathematics curriculum seems opposed to the cultivation of this wonder in mathematics. This workshop will explore how teaching math through a pedagogy of puzzle, proof, and play can help recover this wonder and cultivate wisdom. In the Laws, Plato said that free-born boys should learn simple mathematical calculations adapted to their age, put into a form such as to give amusement and pleasure as well as instruction. As it turns out, a pedagogy of wonder for mathematics, in addition to being fun, is also eminently classical.

Ravi Jain

Dr. Philip Dow (PhD, Cambridge) has been involved in Christian education for 15 years in both classical and nonclassical schools. He is currently the Superintendent at Rosslyn Academy, a Pre-K–12, international Christian school in Nairobi, Kenya, of 650 students from over 50 different nationalities. Phil is also the author of Virtuous Minds: Intellectual Character Development for Students, Teachers and Parents (IVP Academic, 2013).

Finding Wonders, Work, Wisdom and Worship in Natural Science

Natural science teachers love to delight their students with natural wonders and see jaws drop. But as students get older, teachers feel pressure to increase rigor, which can squeeze out room for wonder. But Einstein says that the state of mind which enables a man to do serious scientific work is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the effort comes straight from the heart. So how can a teacher teach science excellently and retain wonder? This workshop will explore how recovering natural history and the common arts provides the appropriate context for wonder and work in natural science and teaching along the narrative of discovery in conversation with biblical thought can cultivate a wisdom that culminates in worship.

Ravi Jain

Ravi Jain graduated from Davidson College with a BA and interests in physics, ancient Greek, and international political economy. He worked at various churches, received an MA from Reformed Theological Seminary, and later earned a Graduate Certi cate in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida. He began teaching Calculus and Physics at The Geneva School in 2003. During his tenure there he has co-authored The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education (Classical Academic Press, 2013) and has presented more than 50 speeches and workshops throughout the country on topics related to Christian classical education.