The significance of insignificance
--By Ben Gilmore
Miss Verna Hall and Miss Rosalie Slater, were founders of FACE (Foundation for American Christian Education), precursor to most of today’s efforts to restore America’s heritage and founding principles. They were sticklers for details – the little things that seem insignificant.
Miss Hall (though a close friend, when in public, it was always “Miss Hall,” or “Mister. Gilmore” – never – “Verna, or Ben”!). I recall her standard response to “The study assignment is too hard!” She replied, “Don’t lower the bar, challenge the student to reach for it.” She shunned paraphrases, insisting that the student struggle to understand the original text – even with ancient fonts where the f’s look like s’s!
Unlike modern cyberspeak “the ladies” never seemed to use abbreviations, or improper grammar, when they wrote. They often spoke of “Dress to honor your subject.” Contrast that with the trend away from use of capital letters (unless to indicate shouting), and the shift from IBM’s norm of suit and tie, to Apple’s sport shirt and jeans.
The popular series, “Downton Abby” illustrates the passing of aristocratic norms, like dressing up for dinner. Granted: American culture shuns (or used to shun) “class distinctions.” Still, something of personal and cultural self-image is lost by lowering the bar.
FACE initiated a term, “The Principle Approach” which appears to me to be a philosophy of teaching, that challenges the student to “4-R” a subject (Research, Reason, Relate, Record). PA students are challenged to study a subject, think through its purpose and origin, relate it to their personal life adventure, then record their conclusions in some form. Such “critical thinking” appears to be a lost art in today’s culture.
Miss Slater encouraged us to home school our youngest daughter way back, before it was a common practice. Folks use to ask, “Is it legal?” Sally Thoman, one among many we have since introduced to home schooling, had these golden words, “My greatest fulfillment as a parent is when I am home schooling my child.”
If it be true – “The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” [Proverbs 9:10] It follows that an irreverent teacher is incapable of producing a “wise” student! Our whole public school system has been made irreverent by fiat!
In the next generation, the pool of “wise” leaders will come from the knees of homeschool parents!
If it be true that no civil government rises without the hand of God. It should be possible to discover His “providence” in our states’ and national history [His-Story]!
My beloved wife, Fran, has been researching the “Christian history of our home state – Texas.” She came across a most interesting individual, Lorenzo de Zavala, a Mexican national, who was elected as the first Vice President of the Republic of Texas. A chapter of her research has been published as a text book in the “God & Texas Series.”
Like Alexis de Tocqeuville, Zavala toured young America to discover its greatness. Zavala wrote back to his Mexican compatriots –
“Repair your roads; raise up houses in order to live like rational beings; dress your children and your wives with decency; don’t incite riots in order to take what belongs to somebody else. And finally, live on the fruit of your labors, and then you will be worthy of liberty and of the praises of sensible and impartial men.”
[Lorenzo de Zavala, Journey to the United States of North America. “Prologue.”]
As we seek to restore things of value – Let us not overlook the “insignificant.”Ben Gilmore