Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sweet Electives = Healthy Menno Geeks

The Village Choir by Thomas Webster

There is more to life than English, math, science and history; although I value and teach all of those subjects diligently to my students.  These basics should be pretty well mastered by the eighth grade--then the real learning begins: essay writing, scientific analysis, algebra, geometry, and critical thinking.  If our students can master these, they can surely comprehend the Bible on a deeper, more meaningful level.

But alongside these all-important pillars of education we must include what we usually refer to as "electives".  My current students are studying Spanish, oboe, bassoon, voice, keyboarding, and art.   (We must not neglect art; it uses the creative side of the brain which helps produce better overall thinking and problem-solving.  And it makes them geekier. [That last sentence was Jeff's.] )   One spends hours in the garage after school each day working on motor parts after his classes are done.
(I know, that is not a bassoon.  An oboe and clarinet are shown in the picture.  Our son has since switched to bassoon.)
In the past my students have studied Greek, Swahili, home economics, woodworking, auto mechanics, logic, journalism, choir, and Christian ethics.  We believe that especially from sixth grade upward these are a vital part of a student's education.   By experimenting with these electives, the students can explore and discover their talents, figuring out what appeals to their specific tastes and personalities.  Some students will try something and not really enjoy it.  That's okay.  They have still learned something.

These classes should be exactly what they are called, "electives", and should supplement a regular education.  We always encourage our students to explore their interests and discover what they enjoy doing while they are young.

God has given each of us special talents (as well as our spiritual gifts).  Jubal was the first of all who play the harp and flute.  Tubal-Cain was an instructor of every artificer in bronze and iron.  Hiram of Tyre was "filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze".   Dorcas sewed garments for the widows of Joppa.  When the temple was built there were those who were skillful to work in gold, silver, brass, iron, purple, crimson and blue.  There were weavers and engravers.  All of these people used their talents to bless and edify others.

 I remember the first time I sang in a choir.  I remember signing up for band and getting my first flute in the sixth grade.  I remember how it smelled, how neat it was to be learning the fingerings and note values, and what it was like to make pretty sounds (usually anyway) along with other musicians.   I remember signing up for a journalism elective in high school so that I could work on the school newspaper.  I remember cooking and sewing in my home economics course (and my friend and I annoying the teacher by taking the hand off the sewing mannequin and playing with it.)  All of these experiences were wonderful and helped shape me into the person I am today.   I want to make sure that I am giving my students these same fabulous opportunities.
Hey, I know, let's paint the house for art today.