By Tara Burkum, TCA Latin Teacher
I can recall a handful of teachers that impacted me in soul-changing ways. One in particular was a college professor who introduced me to the classics. I remember leaving that classroom convicted about sin in my life, in awe of the mercy and majesty of a mighty King, and seeing how God was at work in the world around me.
The number of pieces and authors that we covered in class was vast. We studied works written by Milton, Shakespeare, Homer, Virgil, all the way to the book of Job in the Bible. When I enrolled in this course, I didn’t anticipate how deeply I would be moved. I thought I would read some books, write some papers, and hopefully pass. Although my goal was to just “get by” in college, what I got was so much more.
I was challenged to think about these great works, how they related to the brokenness of man and the redeeming work of God throughout history. Considering the life of Job and how it relates to humanity’s relationship with God cultivated deep thought and wonder. It was as if I saw for the first time the depravity of man when reading Milton’s Paradise Lost.
We did all of this reading and studying in just one short semester. Thousands of pages later, I walked away from that classroom changed. I saw God’s work of creation, our fall, and His redemption played out in the pages of history. I saw how these truths continue to apply to our lives today.
My professor had cultivated a breadth of knowledge in me which fed a desire to go back to these same works to attain more depth. At TCA our goal resonates with what my college professor accomplished so well. We strive to reach the soul rather than achieve high test scores. We long to develop the character of our students and point them to God in all that they learn and see. To accomplish this, we understand that not only does depth of material matter, but breadth as well.
As educators in the classroom or at home, our job is to “kindle a fire” within our students. We can never exhaust what can be learned in our history, science, or math books - that’s part of what drives us to long for more. So we can spark wonder and curiosity and begin to see how God moves in the world around us and in us. There is a mystery and order to the created universe that we should always be seeking to discover and capture.
That’s why you’ll find TCA grammar school students memorizing a timeline of the world’s history from the beginning of time to now. They are memorizing significant moments in our history so that in the logic and rhetoric stages of learning they can place information back into that timeline. Then they can think more deeply about the implications of these moments in our past and how they point us back to the greatness of God.
Students also spend time each week in geography class mapping out the world. Through teaching this skill we are constructing a broad foundation for their future. They are beginning to see how big the world is and forging a breadth of knowledge about the planet on which they live. Someday this breadth of understanding could be experienced more deeply as they travel to new countries or read stories set in those places.
On any given day and any classroom at TCA you will find our students reciting all kinds of literature, from scripture to poetry. Students are cultivating a catalogue of truth and beauty as they drill these great works into their memory. TCA students are engulfed in a breadth of knowledge that is far too great to master. But that encourages them to hunger for more.
Since my college days nearly 10 years ago I have returned to the works I studied in my English class many times. I have referenced these works, thought about them in deep and moving ways, and often longed to return to those pages and have even deeper conversations about their implications on my life. As a TCA educator and parent, I hope our students and my children have this experience of wonder long before I did. I hope they desire to go back to what they have learned in their classes and studies, in awe of God, fueled by the breadth of all that they have learned, and longing to go deeper.