Once a Trinity teacher, always a Trinity teacher
Classical Christian Education in Preschool, by Tricia Calderon
Tricia Calderon, a preschool teacher for 27 years at Trinity Christian School, writes her thoughts on classical Christian education from the perspective of a preschool teacher.
Tricia is a talented artist, and she began a new business adventure with her son starting this January. We will always remember Tricia's smile and are thankful to our Lord for blessing us with her talents. May God’s grace and favor shine on her! —Vicki Leong, Academic Dean
Preparing preschool students when teaching using developmentally appropriate practices is teaching with a classical pedagogy. At the preschool level, it’s not about teaching the Trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—as it is in Kindergarten through high school. Rather, it is about meeting students where they're at and immersing them in what is true, good, and beautiful, setting the foundation on which to build the next level of knowledge. Preschoolers (3-5 years old) learn by doing. They are refining skills they have acquired in toddlerhood, and by helping them refine and build upon these skills, we are preparing our students not only for the next stage in their lives, but for a lifetime of learning.
For example, when we study honeybees, the students learn what is true about bees. New vocabulary, math and science concepts, and social skills are introduced and taught throughout the study. In particular, they learn about the honeybee’s body parts and their functions, such as the bees' life cycles, what they eat, where they live, what they make, how they work together, and if they have any enemies.
Next, when we make bees out of paper, we talk about how many legs, eyes, wings, stingers, and what each body part is used for. We build bee colonies out of blocks, paper, magnet tiles, or other available resources for our paper-made bees. The students begin to understand what is true about a honeybee and how intricate God has made this little insect.
Then we roleplay the lives of different honeybees. A nurse bee takes care of the bee larva, and each child acts out being both a larva and a nurse bee. They also act out worker bees, collecting pollen and nectar. Roleplaying aids in knowledge and understanding of the honeybee, and when we learn about other insects, students learn wisdom when they make a connection between what makes a honeybee an insect—how they're related to other bugs—using the vocabulary they have learned, such as that an insect has three body parts and six legs. We also discuss the differences and commonalities between other insects.
Using developmentally appropriate language and practices, we are teaching children to value what is true, good, and beautiful. We start where the children are at and build upon their experiences. By having the students learn through songs, books, art, role play, and repetition we begin the transition into the grammar stage of the Trivium. It is true, good and beautiful!
"Surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.”—C.S. Lewis
In a new podcast from the CiRCE Institute, "Brian Phillips is joined by Keith McCurdy, President and CEO of Total Life Counseling in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his over 30 years of counseling experience, Mr. McCurdy has spoken at the annual conferences for the Society for Classical Learning (SCL) and the Association of Christian and Classical Schools (ACCS). In this episode, Brian and Keith discuss the value of struggle, how hardship makes us stronger, and how those truths can us stronger, and how those truths can be applied by parents and teachers alike."
Find the podcast (episode is first in the list) on iTunes here.
TCS Academic Dean reflects on the article from the Gospel Coalition, "The Parent's Daily Commute":
“As my own two children have left home, one in her Junior year of college and the other working in Los Angeles, I realize that my ‘job is not done’. I need to continue to lift them up before my Father, as they make their own decisions, choose their mates, drive in LA traffic and on the I-5, I cling to Him, to keep them safe, give them discernment and love with God’s love."
This article talks about making tracks in the snow but for us in Hawaii, envision early morning tracks in the sand. This article says that we continue to have the privilege to lead our children to the throne of grace.
Read the article here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erik-raymond/parents-daily-commute/
by Christie Pavey, TCS Latin Teacher
Thirty years ago in an old white house in Indianapolis, there was a little girl with curly blonde hair singing and dancing to her new favorite Christmas song, Mele Kalikimaka (as sung by Bing Crosby). She listened to that song over and over again, constantly turning back her plastic record to hear it yet one more time. She even had fun hand motions—when the palm trees sway. The words sounded really fun to her, and she liked saying them, especially as they seemed to be said in a sing-song way. As a preschooler, she didn’t understand that those fun words were a different language—in fact, the first words she would learn in a language besides English. She also didn’t yet know that later she would go on to learn more languages, even teaching one of them...and that eventually she would move to the place where Mele Kalikimaka was ‘the thing to say’.
As I close out my first semester at TCS, and spend my first Christmas in the land of rainbows, I cannot help but reflect on how I have been led to this place. My first non-Anglophone phrase was Hawaiian, and even from that young age, I was already entranced by palm trees, sand, and the warm, shining sun. Now, God has brought me to the place where palm trees sway, where the sun shines bright, and where everyone says Mele Kalikimaka!
Did you get to see our students perform at our K-12 Christmas Concert and today's Preschool Christmas Program? Watch them below!
Preschool Christmas Program
K-12 Christmas Program
Written by: Coach Chong, Photos by students Kaley '20 and Jamie '20.
What is the recipe for a golf tournament to benefit the Trinity Christian School athletic department?
- 2 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze sponsors
- 4 hole-in-one prizes, including a 2019 Honda Civic, plus more than 100 other prizes from various supporting companies, organizations and individuals.
- 112 golfers on 28 teams in 56 golf carts playing one of the most scenic golf courses in the U.S.
- more than 120 goodie bags
- 30 cases of bottled water
- good weather after a couple of downpours
- About 20 volunteers comprising of school Admin, faculty, students and parents, some who showed up at the golf course at 6:30 am
- Several student photographers to capture the event for posterity
- Bento lunch and impressive dinner buffet
- Very patient and helpful staff from the Klipper Golf Course, Samuel Adams Grill, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii
And, last but not least:
- A committee of 9 persevering parent volunteers with a vision, who dedicated hundreds of hours over 13 months seeking team entries, sponsors, donors, and prizes.
The TCS athletic department and its student athletes extend a big MAHALO to the sponsors, golfers, and volunteers who made the Inaugural Trinity Classic Golf Tournament possible. Although no one won any of the hole-in-one prizes, all the players and volunteers enjoyed the camaraderie at the event, which was held November 21 at the Klipper Golf Course at Kaneohe Bay. The event raised approximately $15,000, after expenses, for our TCS athletic department.
- Myles Nellans as the youngest player in the tournament
- Parent Gregorio Tiburcio as a last-minute sub who rented golf clubs from the golf shop just minutes before the shotgun start.
- Prayer before the shotgun and the awards banquet by Pastor Todd Capen.
- TCS Business Manager Corinne Alonzo for winning the incentive prize for a round of golf for three at O‘ahu Country Club.
- The TCS Faculty team winning four rounds of golf at Mililani Golf Course. The team consisted of Mark Brians, Eric Fugitt, Joshua McCroskey, and Ben Moore, and were sponsored by Hensel Phelps.
In December, the committee will announce the date and the location for the 2019 Trinity Classic Golf Tournament, which will feature more contests and more prizes. Stay tuned to the Trinity Tabula for details.
We’d like to encourage anybody from the TCS ‘Ohana to join the golf tournament committee. Several of the current committee members are parents of graduating seniors and will be cycling off the committee in the next few weeks. If you’re interested in volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many to thank for working on this endeavor:
- Gold Sponsors: Hensel Phelps * Oral Surgery Hawaii
- Silver Sponsor: Inspire Church in Waikele
- Bronze Sponsors: Belfor * Dr. Rodney Marshall
- Hole-in-One Sponsor: Honda Windward
- Tee Sponsor: FACTS
- Special Thanks: Klipper Golf Course at Kaneohe Bay
- Cash Donors: Sandy & Corbett Kalama
- Prize Donors: Bayview Golf Course | Belfor | Big City Diner | Buzz’s Steakhouse | Castillejos Family | Deacon David Chung | Consolidated Theatres | Roger Dunn Golf Shop | Egan’s Bootcamp | Glow Putt Windward Mall | Hardware Hawaii | Jill Hunter | Kualoa Ranch | Lanikai Bath & Body | Leong Family | Lion Coffee | Bruce Nagel Tennis Academy | Nico’s Kailua | Bill Comerford & Fred Remington – O’Toole’s Irish Pub * Papa John’s | Pint Size Corporation | Ruth’s Chris Steak House | Safeway | Sea Life Park | Teddy’s Bigger Burgers | Walmart | Abraham “Abe” Webb | Jeanne Wilks – Cabi | Zippy’s
- Faculty, Students, Parents & Friends: Corinne Alonzo | Linda Kawakami | Vicki Leong | Jeanne Wilks | Lisa Lim | Rob Lim | Nancy Keegan | Bill Burkhalter | Brittany Lum | Kaila Baker | Lauren Baker | Haley Bakey | Taylor Bakey | Kelsie Bothof | Karley Kimitsuka | Brandon Lawrence | Caitlin Lawrence | Noah Leong | Micah Litsey | Jesse Makuakane | Kaley Nellans | Jamie Sagami | Bron Scott | Greg Tiburcio | Jackson Henry | Kanoa McLaren
- Tournament Committee: Carole Chong | Andy Baker | Ruth Baker | Kristin Bothof | Jack Henry | Patty Kimitsuka | Homer Leong | Lee Leong | John Nellans
We apologize for any inadvertent omissions.
“With God, all things are possible.”—Matthew 19:26
Thank You Jesus!
By Peahi Kapepa, TCS parent
When deciding to send my daughter to Trinity Christian School, I was very attracted to the school as a whole. First, for the obvious reasons that the Bible is taught and prayer and Christ are woven throughout everything the students do from playtime to resolving conflicts and problems.
Now, three years later, I’ve learned about the Classical Christian approach and its benefits as a natural progression of education. At first, it sounded strange to me. When it comes to things that seem complicated and fancy, I assume that it’s something that it’s not. My skepticism was proven right and wrong. Right, by learning what Classical Christian education is, I realized it is relatively simple and a common-sense approach that has been shown over time. And wrong, in that the American public education system has strayed far from what was working for so long. The “new” progressive method has “dumbed down” the basics of how children are taught.
The Trivium is comprised of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric stages but I’ve chosen to focus on the first part of the Trivium: Grammar. Not only is grammar taught but heavily emphasized in the classical format in K-6. Grammar is explained using the vehicles of song and chant which is invaluable to memorization. It’s also fun and causes the kids to thrive in their early years. Instead of merely learning “grammar,” students are learning all subjects from a logical perspective. It has been fascinating to see this at work in my daughter.
Another part of the grammar stage of the classical method that attracted me to Trinity is the focus on language. I was glad to find out that Hawaiian is taught in the first few years of Elementary school because my daughter and I are part-Hawaiian. I have taught her to first identify herself as a child of God, but it’s important to me that she learn about her culture and the beautiful place we are blessed to live.
The other language subject that impressed me is that Latin is taught. My parents both studied Latin in high school and college, and I know how much they value the understanding it gave them. I look forward to my daughter delving into the subject.
We are approaching our fourth year at Trinity, and I am absolutely sold on the classical Christian method of education. I’ve had the perspective of witnessing the school as a parent and as a teacher. I will testify to the value of classical Christian education and how my daughter has blossomed and excelled in this system. Our Christian family values are being reinforced at school. My daughter is receiving a superior education based on a proven record. It will continue to enhance her life after she graduates.
What is Classical Christian Education?
Reflections at the start of a new school year
by Eric Fugitt
There is a crisp feeling in the air on a cool August morning as the doors to Trinity Christian School open wide and a new year begins to unfold. There is a flood of enthusiasm amongst the faculty, parents, and students as we eagerly anticipate the wonders we will uncover over the next 9 months. Uniforms are freshly laundered and neatly worn, and an eager smile shines on every face. I see waving parents—resting in the confidence of their choice of school for their children—dropping them off at the curb or walking their little ones to their fresh, new classrooms. The atmosphere is electrified with wonder, awakened from its summer drowsiness, igniting anticipation in having that wonder fulfilled.
Throughout the next few months, the halls of the grammar school in this classical Christian environment will resound with the echoes of chants, sound-offs, and songs being ardently practiced each day by energetic and enthusiastic children taking satisfaction in their ability to memorize astonishing quantities of material with relative ease. These children are being taught according to their God-given gifts. We are teaching “with the grain” of each child, which promotes wonder and makes for a happy and contented student. Gone are the days of goading the child to prematurely reach far beyond his grasp to higher-level thinking which he finds unpleasant—making little sense to his developing mind. This child is the most content when life consists of black and white, right and wrong, and facts and rules. He takes delight in his ability to recall and recite volumes of information from their latest science or bible lesson, sing funny grammar jingles, or chant about his history time-period.
In the grammar school, we are about the business of teaching the facts and rules (the grammar) of each subject in God’s creation to foster a sense of wonder already present in the child’s mind. There is a telos, or purpose, in teaching this way. We are preparing him for a life with Christ as well as for the next level of his classical education—the logic stage—where his “wonder-grain” starts to take on a new pattern.
As he moves out of the grammar stage, his mind is bursting with knowledge that the secondary teachers begin to rework. His new sense of wonder takes delight in analyzing the world around him while looking for flaws. Everything is prey to his analysis. No lapses in logic are insignificant. He scrutinizes everything so as to argue everything.
Knowing their students possess in full measure these characteristics, the teachers begin to train him to discuss and debate moral issues in a Christ-like manner. Teachers at this level challenge their students’ assumptions. This requires a tough skin, because the teacher is now the target of his students. We educate him in the fine art of argumentation with an intentional concentration on his demeanor (ethos), logic (logos), and persuasiveness (pathos) so that he may bring glory to God and be firmly grounded when interacting in the adult world. We encourage and help facilitate a deeper relationship with Christ so that He may mold the child into His image—creating within him a deeper beauty.
Finally, as he progresses through to the Rhetoric stage, he now has his facts and rules of the world around him; he has dissected the significance of the Logos (Christ—the glory of God); he has logically debated the effects of the Creation, Fall and Redemption of man; and he now learns to articulate his viewpoint reasonably and persuasively for the glory of God. It is in the Rhetoric stage that the “wonder-grain” bends once again as the student now desires to articulate the wisdom God has given him. This articulation is performed both orally and in written form. Deep, meaningful discussions permeate the Rhetoric stage. Along with core academic classes, students take formal rhetoric to refine the craft of discussion and persuasion. A Christ-like presence, an ability to reason in a reflective, thoughtful manner, and an attractive persuasiveness in speaking the Truth are the aims of a classical Christian education.
The ultimate goal of a classical Christian education is heart and character formation for the glory of God. True education can only be accomplished within the context of a strong biblical worldview. We establish our students in the truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We bask in the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus Christ found in His Word and in His creation. This is what we do. This is our spiritual act of worship each day. Soli Deo Gloria.
May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii!
Written by Donna Tamaye
The lei is known worldwide as a symbol of aloha. The lei custom was introduced to the Hawaiian Island by the early Polynesian voyagers, who courageously sailed from Tahiti by navigating the stars. With these first Hawaiians, the tradition of the lei was born. Some leis were symbolic, such as the kukui nut lei, which was worn only by Ali’i (royalty). However, perhaps the most significant lei was the Maile lei. Among other sacred uses, it was used to signify a peace agreement between opposing chiefs. In a Heiau (temple), the chiefs would symbolically intertwine the fragrant Maile vine, and its completion officially established peace between the two groups.
Great love and care is taken into the gathering of the materials to make a lei, which traditionally included flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, and feathers. After the materials are gathered, they are prepared and sewn to become a lei. As this is done, the mana (or spirit) of the creator of the lei is sewn into it. Therefore, when you give a lei, you are giving a part of you. Likewise, as you receive a lei, you are receiving a part of the creator of the lei.
On May 1, 1927, Hawaii celebrated its very first Lei Day in downtown Honolulu. In 1928, Mayor Charles Arnold crowned Lei Queen Nina Bowman in Honolulu. Today, the Lei Day, also known as May Day, festivities have flourished to include a selection of a Lei Day Queen, with a princess representing each of the islands, wearing lei fashioned with the island’s flower and color.
We will continue this very special tradition at Trinity on April 30 and May 1st. 2nd grade through 12th grade will celebrate on April 30, from 9:00-10:30 on the Makai campus. Preschool through 1st Grade will celebrate May 1 from 9-10 am in the Mauka campus sanctuary. All students are encouraged to wear aloha attire or uniforms and Makai students are encouraged to bring a lei for the lei exchange, as a symbol of exchanging aloha. Both campuses will have a Facebook live stream of the events.
Finding the Difference Part 4: On the Classics & the Gospel
Written by Mark Brians, 7th & 10th Grade Humanities Teacher
Where do we find our definitions?
In his masterful work on virtue, philosopher Alasdair McIntyre has explained how we “can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’”
In much of this discussion about the major differences which distinguish the classical Christian tradition from other modes of education (the IB Program in particular), we have highlighted how these differences come from differences of definition: what it means to be human, what the purpose of education is, and how to measure excellence. These definitions are, in some sense, like answers to the question above, “what am I to do?” The answers and definitions furnished by classical Christian pedagogy, which we have discussed, are born from a prior answer to a more fundamental question, “of what story or stories are we a part?”
To this question we offer a simple answer: we are a part of the Gospel story —God’s story. But God’s story is a large one, including within it, many smaller stories. In being a part of the Gospel story, we find ourselves inextricably inheritors of another story, the classical one (hence the term for our pedagogy, “classical Christian education”). In this final essay, we will examine what exactly we mean by this, and why this matters for school life.
What do we mean by “Classics” and “Christian”?
By “Christian” we refer to the Person of Jesus Christ as He is faithfully revealed in scripture. By this we refer, concomitantly, to the life and witness of the people of God in history and across the globe; and to the work of the Spirit of God in and through His Church.
By “classical” we refer to the collective wisdom and experience of the human past in general, with a particular focus on those of the West and Hawaii. This includes but is not limited to the histories, and names, and songs, and genealogies, and thoughts, and stories, and scientific discoveries, and skills, and practices, and knowledge, and moral lessons, and failed attempts at glory, and great victories; the living and dying of those people who came before us and gave us the now which we inherit by nature of being alive. We are the inheritors of a world that existed before we did, in the Gospel we are commissioned to be a part of the story God gave it.
Why does this matter for school life?
This may seem strange in an era that is deeply suspicious of words like “tradition” or “authority” and where the prevailing attitude in literature, philosophy, and history studies is purely critical (as opposed to receptive, attentive, grateful).
The problem, however with our culture’s deep resentment of authority and the past, is that it creates a vacuum in which nothing is called true except for inert “fact.” Roger Lundin incisively reveals what happens to a culture in the absence of these greater common authorities: “Instead of appealing to an authority outside of ourselves, we can only seek to marshal our rhetorical abilities to wage the political battles necessary to protect our preferences and to prohibit expressions of preference that threaten or annoy us.”
The observations of Clark and Jain is that “all education takes place in a context of a mythos (story), a logos (reason), and practices. Without a commitment to a tradition that establishes these, education is a drift from its moorings… and technological solutions alone will only protect us for a time.” Rather than balk against the notion of authority beyond the myopic present, we acknowledge, in the words of Michael Polanyi, that “no human mind can function without accepting authority, custom, and tradition: it must rely on them for the mere use of language.”
The classical Christian model of education begins its course by building a “robust and poetic moral education” grounded in the Gospel of Jesus and the wisdom of the classical tradition before moving to analysis or critique. This does not only help us to “get the facts” but enables us to array them within a life-giving framework by which we can work cooperatively, creatively and rationally towards critical thinking and thoughtful exploration. Instead of seeing the witness of history or the authority of the Gospel as foreclosures on human discovery, an ugly “gulf to be bridged,” we celebrate them as “the supportive ground of process in which the present is rooted.”
So far from eschewing the analytical, or “higher order”, categories of student performance, this bedrock, laid in the richness of the human past (“the classical”) under the genius of the Gospel (the Christian), actually produce the kind of vibrant academic community so many educators and families long for.
The Gospel is light, and in that Light, we see the light. Only within the fecundity of a historical witness and the Gospel that offers an authority beyond individual urges does reason truly flourish. As Gustav Mahler said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
Using Discernment: Reflections from Irene Kano
Written by Irene Kano, Mauka Campus Principal
A few weeks ago, I found myself face to face with a child whose face was dripping with sweat and bright red with anger. He had been “sent to the Principal’s office” for a recess altercation where he had punched his classmate. Violence is entirely unacceptable, and as the Principal, it is part of my job to enforce school rules to keep all students safe. But as a parent and teacher who is tremendously thankful for the grace and patience of my Heavenly Father, I have learned the importance of taking the time to ask God for discernment and trust His insight to guide me so that I discipline children the way He teaches me.
Over the years I’ve learned that when supervising kids, we often only see the adverse reaction, but not necessarily the cause, of an altercation. The boy who was hit initially cried victim and the red-faced boy has been in my office a few times before. But when we got to the bottom of it, the “victim” was the one who had initiated the fight. I then had the opportunity to talk with both boys about how each of them was wrong in the situation, and explain how they shared the responsibility in the sinful act. It is easy for us to jump to conclusions and label our children or colleagues as “difficult” or “problems.” But when we do so, we limit our fellow image-bearers to our skewed perceptions of them and don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts. Discernment, grace, and the patience to understand are especially crucial when disciplining our kids and confronting our brothers and sisters when we’ve been wronged. I’m still learning to do this, and when I don’t get it right, I’m thankful for the reminder that God sees us entirely. In our best and in our worst, He remains loving and just.
Part 3: On Excellence
Written by Mark Brians, 7th and 10th Grade Humanities Teacher
This is part three in a series of four, click here for part one, and here for part two. In a previous article, I discussed one of the major convictions which distinguishes the classical Christian model of education from a host of other kinds, namely the International Baccalaureate Programs. Here, I countenance a second major difference in the classical Christian model: our understanding of the nature of educational excellence. Much like the question we asked in the earlier essay concerning the nature of humanity, it might be easy to assume that “we all know what we are talking about, when we use the word excellence”. The truth, however, is that excellence, by its very nature, is a relative term. The qualities that make one an excellent banker are very different from those that make one an excellent bank-robber. The nature of excellence is beholden to the subject it modifies. So then, two schools might both employ the word “excellence” in describing their programs of study (or other similar words, such as “superior” or “robust”) while differing greatly in the nature of the education they provide.
What does excellence look like in the classical Christian Tradition?
As discussed in the earlier essays, the classical Christian model is very clear on the kind of education we want to provide: namely, the formation of humans whose loves are ordered to the glory of God and in service of their neighbors; humans whose formation in the liberal arts  will prepare them well for a wide array of skills  in the project of peace and human flourishing. The idea of educational “excellence” refers uniquely to specific articulations of educational goodness and the concomitant pedagogy respective to each. Thus, our standards of excellence countenance the content, the instructional practices, and the kinds of school culture which best serves this goal. McLuhan’s dictum, as regards to practices, holds weight: the medium is the message. We cannot dislocate the “what” of education from the “how” of doing it. Everything —from content, to student ratios, to faculty and administrative practices, to modes of assessment— is a part of the education. How does this differ in practice from more common forms of education? To demonstrate it might be helpful to examine three (of many) practical examples of the way in which the classical conviction is enfleshed, or lived-out, in practice.
1. Multum non multa
This Latin proverb translates loosely to “much not many”. We place a high value on developing mastery and depth of thought over merely giving students a cursory perusal of many variegated subjects. Let us borrow the language of “uncoverage” pioneered by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe to describe this kind of pedagogy. Often we find, when institutions grow focused on “covering” vast amounts of content, they have successfully “covered” (i.e. hidden, veiled, withheld) much of the meaning; creating a vacuous pedagogy of impersonal facts whose meaning is equal only to their extrinsic market utility. The classical Christian model instead dares to suggest that when students learn deeper, they actually learn more. As studies in history and mathematics reveal, it is this kind of deep learning, of conceptual mastery and intellectual wonder, that best teaches for retention and breaks the detrimental pattern of cram-pass-forget.
2. Difficult does not necessarily mean Good
It is easy to assume, when faced with the current plight of American education (the apparent lack of “excellence”), especially when compared with that of emerging countries, that if the answer is not “more” then it must be “harder”. If American students, the thinking seems to go, are falling behind, then we must push them farther and harder. And so we pride ourselves when we brag about the “rigor” or “difficulty” of our classes and schools. Often, however, a failing system is symptomatic of a much deeper sickness. Merely running an ailing body harder and faster, whipping “rigor” into it, exhausts an already over-taxed system. The cudgel is no remedy for the sick. This is the danger of making sheer difficulty our measure of excellence. Instead, the classical model takes a holistic approach to the human learner, understanding the place for both rigor and rest in education.
3. Excellence and Mensurability
At other times, “excellence” can simply refer to scores on standardized tests or college acceptance rates. While we certainly see the real value of such metric assessments of academic vitality, we feel that these by themselves are not adequate to measure the kind of excellence for which we aim. Helpful as they may be, they are understood by educators within the classical tradition as part of a much larger system of measurements by which we evaluate learning outcomes. For if the purpose of our education is the formation of affective creatures along lines of virtue and mutual flourishing —if this is our standard for excellence— then many other things in addition to raw test scores must be taken into account. We must be careful not to limit excellence to mere success on tests which, for all their worth, are unable to give an account of a student’s honesty, or courage, or oratory skills, or poetic genius, or musical skill, or deep retention of content. In all our desire to provide an excellent education for our children, we must be wise about the kind of excellence to which we refer. The promise of sheer “excellence alone” does not guarantee that the education a child receives is one that aims their loves towards a holistic, Gospel-centered, vision of human flourishing.
 The classical seven (Music, Geometry, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Astronomy) crowned by Philosophy and Theology.
 In this distinction we follow the historical distinction between “arts” (i.e. ways-of-being-human, ways-of-relating-to-the-world-and-to-others) and “skills” (i.e. the utilization of things, ex. robotics, graphic design, commerce, etc.).
 McLuhan, Marshall. 1994. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge: MIT Press.
 Wiggins, G. and Jay McTighe. 2005. Understanding by Design, 2nd Edition. Alexandria: ASCD Press.
 See the discussion in Calder, L. 2006. “Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey.” The Journal of American History. pp. 1358-1370.
 See Mays, J. 2017. “Slaying the Cram-Pass-Forget Dragon.” SCL Summer Conference Presentation. (notes available here
Explaining Classical Education Succinctly: What Will Your Elevator Speech Be?
A while ago, a friend asked me, “What is a classical education in 50 words or less?” He wanted a start on his own “elevator speech” to share with his friends and colleagues who expressed interest in the educational alternative he and his wife chose for their children. I’ve read, heard, written and spoken on this subject hundred of times. Most of the statements are lengthy, and the subject deserves the more lengthy treatments contained in books and pamphlets by luminaries such as Dr. Christopher Perrin, Kevin Clark and Ravi Jane, Douglas Wilson, Gregg Strawbridge, Dr. George Grant and many other contemporary reformers. But trimming it to 50 words! After four iterations while wrestling with the 50-word maximum here is my reply. Try it.
Head of School
Part 2: On Learning & Love
Written by Mark Brians, 7th & 10th Humanities Teacher
In an earlier piece on the TCS 'Engaging Minds' blog, I discussed the significant differences between the Classical Christian Tradition and the International Baccalaureate Program. In that article I identified three core concepts which form our Classical Christian pedagogy. They are as follows: That humans are primarily affective beings, driven by loves and formed by competing visions of the good life; That “excellence in education” (academic, extracurricular, and moral), at its core, is about the cultivation of deep virtue engendered by rightly ordered loves (or, ordo amoris, as Augustine puts it); and that this cultivation of human excellence must be rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and draw upon the richness of the human past.
In what follows I address myself to the first of those three concepts I listed above; namely the affective nature of the human person. It should be noted, however, that while each of these concepts carries a kind of uniqueness, they remain deeply interwoven. Much like the Persons of the Trinity, it may be helpful to think of them as distinct-but-not-separate, as mutually sustaining, or (to use a fancy theological phrase) as perichoretic.
What Do We Mean by Affective?
It has been said, and perhaps falsely attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, that if you want to build a boat, you ought not to spend your time lecturing on the importance of maritime traffic, debating tariff and port regulations, nor drumming-up people to cut down wood. That, rather, your time would be best spent instilling in them an incurable yearning for the vastness of the sea. For teaching in them a burning desire for seafaring would do far more to shape their activity and production —would do more to accomplish the goal— than countless hours spent otherwise.
There is no secret here. Countless anecdotes could be given, from our disparate experiences on the playground, of parenting, from our witness of political rallies, or having given board room presentations, all in defense of this truth. Humans are affective, driven primarily by longings and desires for a certain vision of the “good life.”
By no means do we suggest that humans are only affective. Humans perform a host of things that have a hand in shaping and forming us —we think, we reason, we labor, we produce, we play, we celebrate, we communicate, we dream, we joke, we debate, etc. None of these things are being called into question as things that shape human life. What is being suggested, however, is that back behind all of these human functions, on a pre-rational level, is a heart that was shaped by God in His own Image to love and enjoy Him forever.
The Fall of our race in the garden did not alter the fact that we were designed to love, and for the sake of Love Himself, and that we long to experience love. Rather, the Fall bent our loving; so that we neither know what to love nor how to love properly.
Classical Christian education concerns itself foundationally with the tuning of human loves and passions towards a vision of human flourishing marked chiefly by a deep and superabundant peace individually and socially.
Affectivity and Educational Philosophy
Every pedagogy is grounded in a central question: what does it mean to be human? An institution’s answer to that one question will inform every aspect of instruction, from things as central as benchmarks and school culture to things as seemingly auxiliary as room décor.
Our classical pedagogy is therefore rooted in the understanding that humans, while capable of many kinds of activity, are foundationally affective creatures. Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain thus suggest that “before learning can begin there must be an education in love.”
The classical Christian school is not merely a place for children to get “tooled” for the job market (although that is a good thing that happens along the way), it is a network (of parents, and faculty, and administrators, and students, and coaches, etc.) who work in the formation of rightly ordered loves.
Finding the Difference between Classical Christian Education and the IB Program: Part 1
Written by Mark Brians, 7th and 10th Grade Humanities Teacher
My alma mater, Kaiser High School, has an amazing International Baccalaureate (IB) program and I am close with some people who either teach in such programs or whose children are (or have been) a part of this kind of learning. Both in conversations with these people, as well as with others whom I encounter in the field of education, some questions arise regarding the relationship between the classical tradition and the IB program. At the outset, it is easy to reduce both pedagogies, the Classical Christian Model and the IB Program, to various exterior methodologies (one teaches Latin, the other modern languages; one has a capstone project, the other a ‘thesis,' etc.). But this sort of surface-level review fails to assess the deep and fundamental differences in theory which distinguish the programs from one another at their core.
What follows is the first of four installments, where I hope to be of service by outlining in three major headings the underlying differences between the IB programs and the Classical Christian tradition.
Before I begin, however, allow me to say that I have a healthy respect for the IB program and for those who teach it. Doubtless, it is a rigorous curriculum that produces high-achieving students who have been given an education that situates them for relative success in college and the global economy.
Indeed, even in some of the desired goals of the IB program, I think we can find commonality with our Classical Tradition. Both pedagogies desire to foster human beings who can engage meaningfully with various cultures across the globe, who have genuine concern for their neighbors, and who can emerge as meaningful voices in our rapidly changing culture. But while we may agree on these things, there remains a fundamental difference not only as to how to achieve these desired ends, but how to define these desired ends, what the purpose of these desired ends is, and what idea of “success” is being used to measure learning outcomes.
Fundamentally, we can arrange these differences into three major categories: 1] the nature of humanity and the purpose of education; 2] the nature of excellence and how it is measured; 3] the centrality of the Faith. I trace a brief sketch of these three differences below. I hope to address each of these categories in greater depth in later posts. For now, I offer a summary.
If we are in the business of educating humans, it would seem that the first two things we ought to understand are humans and education. While this may seem a trivial pursuit or at least a questioning of the obvious, it is neither obvious nor trivial, for it gets right to the heart of the difference that we are trying to uncover.
Now, humans do a lot of things. We think, we relate, we build, we invent, we love, we worship, we make war, and many other things unique to our race which separate us from the animals. The question here is not “what do humans do?” in general, but rather, “what is it that defines humans before we do anything else?”
Central to the IB Program is the concept of humanity as producer. This is to say, under the IB paradigm, humans are primarily oriented around what they produce (thought, goods, and services, organizations, finance, treaties, etc.). An example of this belief about the nature of humanity is manifest in the term the IB Programs use when referring to their students, as “learners” and “thinkers.” Thus, the primary purpose of the IB Program is to shape its “learners” into productive participants for the global market. If humans are fundamentally producers, a good education would be one that makes them more productive and more peaceable, insofar as peace makes humans more productive.
The Classical Christian Tradition differs here profoundly. While we do not deny that humans are producers, we do not believe that production as such is the definitive character of our being. Rather, we believe that humans are first and foremost affective (emotional) creatures, driven and defined primarily by what we love, desire, and adore. Everything we do is undeniably intentional, aimed at a certain goal; pursuing a particular vision of human flourishing. We may produce, we may think, we may cook, but when we do so, we do it guided and informed by loves and longings.
If, as we come to understand it in the Classical Tradition, humans are primarily affective creatures, then the purpose of education is to shape and form human loves towards the pursuit of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Education, then, is about far more than “getting students to learn” or “preparing them for the real world.” It is instead about leading them to love learning, to love the things they learn, and to engage the world as not only a necessary accident of human production but imaginatively in the pursuit of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
Tune in next week for Part 2!
Written by Carol Awaya, parent and teacher
“Why Trinity?” If you’re like my family, this question resonates in your home throughout the school year as we evaluate each of our children’s’ strengths and needs. “Why Trinity?” What is your answer to that question? Is it because Trinity is the only fully accredited Classical Christian School in Hawaii? Is it because your child has found their niche in a sport that they play, or feel as if they are an integral part of their classroom or house? Is it because Trinity has an academic curriculum that challenges your child and prepares them for college? Maybe you appreciate that class sizes are small, ensuring your child has the appropriate amount of attention and they don’t have the opportunity to fall between the cracks. Maybe your love for Trinity is because of the sense of ohana and community that is fostered here, making the school an extension of your family. Maybe it’s because you know your child is loved by their teachers as they are in your home—even, when the love involves having to put limits on your child or imposing a consequence to shape their heart and grow their character. For my husband and me, all of this matters to us. But most of all, we are striving to raise children with Christ at the center of their lives and praying that they develop a heart of respect, humility, love for others, love for learning, become confident and articulate adults, and develop a heart that serves—much like what the “Profile of a Graduate” outlines.
"...It takes time, energy, discipline, consistency, persistence and hard work to develop an individual of such character. For example, if you want to lose weight, it involves a daily regimen of eating clean, working out, getting enough sleep, minimizing sugar intake, drinking plenty of water, and not giving up. Classical Christian education involves that sort of discipline."
So, what does Trinity’s “Profile of a Graduate” look like? It is a good reflection of what we would like our children to be one day: those who love God, love others, love to learn, think and communicate precisely, engage culture, delight in beauty and walk humbly. Can my husband and I accomplish this on our own? Not apart from the strength and grace of God nor without those who we surround our children with, day in and day out.
I think most of you would agree with me, that it takes time, energy, discipline, consistency, persistence and hard work to develop an individual of such character. For example, if you want to lose weight, it involves a daily regimen of eating clean, working out, getting enough sleep, minimizing sugar intake, drinking plenty of water and not giving up. Classical Christian education involves that sort of discipline. In the Grammar stage, students are memorizing a ton of information through chants and songs to build a bank of information and facts for one to pull from. In the Logic stage they are making sense of the information, putting an order to that information and are making connections. At the Rhetoric stage, while still gaining information, they can thoughtfully express their conclusions and convictions and are able to defend a senior thesis. This does not happen just because our children naturally grow and mature in that way. It takes practice, being intentional, moments of taking one step forward and three steps back, and persevering through challenges. The teachers here intentionally work on training our students to be critical thinkers and life-long learners. Scripture is memorized so that a “branding” takes place in our hearts and that a student can use God’s word to carry them through a challenging part of life or give hope to another in need. The elementary teachers are intentional about teaching through songs and chants because they know it helps the information “stick” so that they may be able to recall that information when they most need it. The school is intentional about training up well-spoken and articulate students via exordiums, our drama club and debate team. Each of these exercises are valuable in themselves, and consequently help develop skills necessary to interview for a job, make an oral presentation in college and help develop leadership skills.
Secondary teachers are looking for ways for our students to serve in our community and serve alongside our children. Our coaches continue to encourage the players to do all things for the glory of God and walk humbly even when they may have earned a Championship win. These are only a few examples of how the teachers and administration impact our children’s lives. As parents, we are grateful for this partnership we have at Trinity. As a teacher, I am also grateful that I have my colleagues supporting and helping me become a better parent and educator. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
My husband and I don’t know what the future holds or what will become of our children when they are adults, but we are thankful we have partnered with Trinity to invest in our children’s lives and their hearts. Knowing that they know the Lord and have a relationship with Jesus is the best gift we could ask for. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
A Philosophy of Leadership in the School Setting
The Head of School as Visionary – Head Teacher – CEO
Written by Rodney J. Marshall, Ed.D.
Leadership in the school setting involves the exercise of principled influence to attain institutional ends. To reach these ends, the Head of School will provide thought and organizational leadership in three primary arenas, each of equal importance. These are a visionary leader, a head teacher, and a chief executive officer. The Head of School leads as a visionary because the organizational leader needs to perceive where the academy is going to lead toward achievement of its highest ends. As head teacher, he (or she can be assumed throughout) leads an academy where teaching and learning great ideas is the paramount purpose. The Head needs to inspire all constituencies to develop a vibrant learning culture. As chief executive officer, because the Head of School is the sole report of the board of trustees, responsible for fulfilling academy ends while assuring organizational integrity. The leadership opportunity is a broad and exciting one because the Head of School is leading an organization that changes the lives that will influence the future, and everything rises and falls on leadership.
"The leader thinks strategically about what could be, or what the academy should become, and how it should influence people."
The Head of School as visionary acts as the ardent proponent of the Academy’s unchanging mission and deftly leads it through changing times. He thinks and leads strategically. While managers care for the day to day activities of the school operation, a visionary leader prays, reads, and thinks years into the future to set organizational trajectory today. The leader thinks strategically about what could be, or what the academy should become, and how it should influence people. The visionary leader can also sense the obstacles to success that need to be overcome before impact, and find a way through the rubble while building on the experience. While the manager thinks about damage control, the leader looks for opportunity in a changing environment, and persuasively communicates this to key people and eventually to all constituencies. The manager surveys others in order to satisfy them, while the visionary thinks, and leads from the front.
The Head of School leads as head teacher and thought leader because he leads an academy where teaching and learning great ideas is the paramount purpose. The title headmaster, sometimes used for school heads, means head teacher (caput magister), or the leader of the college of faculty. The head’s learning audience includes every constituency related to the organization. Directly, and indirectly, by word and by example he teaches the board, the administrative team, the college of faculty, the student body, the parents, the alumni, the donors, the broader community, and those who will join any one of these constituencies in the future. He, therefore, needs to be an idea leader engaged in the great conversation about the world of the past, the present, and the future, and about all the marvelous subject matter that make up a school curriculum in academics, arts, and athletics. As head teacher, he is energetically engaged with transmitting and discussing these ideas to and with all constituents because he loves it and he is excellent at it.
As Chief Executive Officer, and the only direct report of the board of trustees, the Head of School is comprehensively responsible for leadership toward the achievement of organizational ends while maintaining organizational integrity. The CEO leads a management team that works to achieve organizational ends while operating every aspect of the institution’s business functions, advancement goals, and educational programs with excellence. While leadership style is not most important, most schools are best run neither autocratically or via a laissez-faire approach. Rather, most school management teams work with the head to reach consensus on significant decisions, while the head still retains responsibility for final choices. The Head of School regularly reports to and works with the board to achieve Academy ends with integrity. As chief executive officer, the Head of School leads the entire institution forward with a standard of excellence.
The effective Head of School will provide leadership as a visionary, head teacher, and chief executive officer. The job description is a broad and exciting one because the Headmaster is leading an organization that changes the lives that will influence the future—and everything rises and falls on leadership.
Did You Just Call 9-1-1?
Written by Nancy Keegan
I really enjoy my job. I’m entering my 10th year as the person at the front desk on the Makai Campus. In the beginning, the Makai Campus only housed the 5th-8th grade. We were really small, but each year the campus grew and will continue to grow as classes fill out and eventually double through all grade levels.
There is a pretty big leap from 3rd grade to 4th grade. Not only do you change campuses but you are now going to school with some kids who are 18 years old! In August, the 4th graders are so small but little by little they start to grow up. Before you know it, your little 4th grader will be the big Senior! The students will grow in responsibility and autonomy every year. In August of 4th grade, it might seem unimaginable that in a little over a year, you will say good-bye to your 5th grader as they head off to the Big Island with their class. A huge rite of passage and a critical building block toward high school and eventually adulthood.
When students move to the Makai Campus things are done a little differently. When you’re not feeling well, typically you will be instructed to call your parent to let them know the situation and together you can make a decision if you should stay in school. Some points are non-negotiable (fevers and vomiting), but as you get older, a student and their parent need to weigh out the cost vs. benefits of missing school. To talk to your parent, a student needs to learn phone etiquette and simply how to use a phone. It is not as easy as it sounds, most kids have not used a land line, they’ve grown up with only a cellular phone.
It is just basic skill building. Funny story, if a parent has a non-Hawaii number you need to dial, 9, then 1, then the phone number. One day a student looks up at me and says, “I made a mistake, what should I do?” I look down and see they dialed 9, then 1, then another 1. Yikes! I hang up the phone, hoping my quick reflexes were faster than the 9-1-1 operator. They weren’t! I’m not sure how 9 was chosen as the number to get an outside line. I’m even more surprised I have not had this problem happen more than once.
As we grow these young 4th graders into mature TCS graduates, we will stumble occasionally, we will fall a few times, we will undoubtedly make tough decisions, and learn some hard lessons, but I think this is all pretty normal. I had a wise mom say to me once, “Pray, that your child gets caught early and often.” This is great advice. I want my children to make mistakes and get caught now so we can guide them and help them to make better decisions as they get older. Mistakenly calling 9-1-1 is a simple error, but most likely not one this student will repeat.
Another Successful Makahiki in the Books!
Written by Nancy Keegan
In its 5th year, the 2017 TCS Makahiki was a great success. From its inception, the goals for the Makahiki were to build community within the school, invite Windward Oahu to see how special our little school is, promote elements of Hawaiian culture, and raise funds for financial assistance and school enhancement efforts (PTF). This parent believed 100% in the mission and vision of TCS and wanted to be able to share that with all of Oahu.
The success of the Makahiki was due in part to the vision and commitment of this parent but more than that, it is because of our TCS ‘ohana. When you are part of a school ‘ohana you are bound together, not by only by blood but by a cooperative effort and care for each other. When we are concerned with the interests of others, we will be blessed abundantly.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:4-5
Trinity wants to be recognized as a school of excellence. We desire to be unashamedly Christian, excellent in academics, strengthen the character of our students, and partner with parents.
Events like the TCS Makahki strengthen our ‘ohana. The TCS Makahiki, is only possible due to the investment of our school families. Our goal was 100% participation. We didn’t reach that goal, but in the five years of chairing this event, it grew and flourished. The event got bigger and earned more money, but more importantly, the TCS students, families, and teachers found value in the event and wanted to contribute to its success. Mrs. Greene volunteered to rent the cotton candy machine and get sticky making cotton candy all day. ‘Ohana RC volunteered to set up the fun race course game. Parents began showing up at 6:30 am ready to help. Parents I’d never met emailed wanting to donate items for auction and be part of the entertainment. The event achieved portions of the goal to build the community well before the blessing to begin the Makahiki.
Was the Makahiki A LOT of work? YES! I have five years of Makahiki sweat and grit under my fingernails. Will I remember exactly how much work it was? NO. What are some of my 2017 Makahiki memories? I will remember cutting the kiawe wood and smelling that kalua pig when its pulled from the imu. I will remember listening to Brother Noland sing, make jokes about being stuck in the traffic, and watch Hailey dance a beautiful hula. I will remember the winds calmed, the sun shined, and it was a beautiful day spending time with our Trinity ‘ohana.
Getting up early, working hard, planning for months, all of these experiences build our bonds to one another. The fun times and the memories cement those relationships. We are entering a new season for the TCS Makahiki. As co-chairs (myself and Raynee David) believe it is time to allow others to rise in leadership and reap the benefits of building the community, relationships, and ‘ohana at TCS.
by Vicki Leong, TCS Academic Dean
A Christian education should be through the lens of an absolute. I believe there is an absolute God. So, I as a Christian and an educator, am rooted in the belief that the “aim of a Christian education is to prepare individuals to be wise and virtuous adults who are able to discern truth, choose what is good, and beautifully express the reason for their choices.” (Trinity Christian School, 2015).
My educational philosophy originates back centuries ago to Socrates time, then Plato, Aristotle and to contemporaries Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal and Dorothy Sayers. This conviction came to me around the year 2000 as a friend recommended me to read Susan Wise Bauer’s book, The Well-Trained Mind. I read her book and I experienced a light bulb moment and wanted to use this with my children. Providentially, another friend introduced me to a classical Christian school which followed the same model. It was there where I heard about the Trivium more in depth and the Poll-Parrot, Pert, and Poetic stages. Below is a comparison chart I made between Adler‘s Paideia Proposal and Classical Education.
Children are naturally bent to learn in these different stages as they mature. Our responsibility as an educator is to provide a conducive environment that facilitates learning rather than impede it. We are able to control the tools of learning, and it is through the social and cultural interactions that take place in the classroom that the child begins to make sense of the world (Dunn, 2005).
I base my belief in the strengths of this educational philosophy as a result of what I have witnessed in our graduates at Trinity Christian School and at St. Stephens Academy. Most of our graduates, I am personally acquainted with, are knowledgeable, articulate, able to organize their thoughts, formulate a strong opinion, and develop a defense while communicating it well with eloquence. Christian education is the process of educating the child through the lens of our loving and all-powerful God.
Aloha and welcome to our new Engaging Minds blog. We'll be posting articles from our teachers and staff, as well as recent news and upcoming events! Our Grand Tour updates and Athletics updates are housed separately on special blogs. You can access our old Weebly blog posts here: http://engagingminds.weebly.com/