A New (Old) Case for the Language Arts

Here’s a rule that cannot possibly be overstated: language proficiency is the single most important component of an education, period. If your students do not learn to use the right words, they will become prisoners of the wrong ones. This applies to any subject, to any activity, and to any relationship. Give your students the tools of language, and their education is complete. Fail in this, and it can never really begin…

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Literary Reading in the Gospel of Luke

There’s a passage in the Gospel of Luke to which I have historically applied some bad reading habits. It’s the scene where Jesus compares his listeners to children calling out to one another in the street, saying “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” (7:32) To be honest, I usually just keep on reading right past this verse and move on to more accessible material…

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On Starting the Year Exhausted

When I sat down last week to teach my first class of the year, I will admit I was feeling less than enthusiastic. As you may have heard elsewhere, this was a big summer for the CenterForLit crew. I spent long days bent over my laptop in a hidey hole, fiddling with fonts and website design for our new CenterForLit Schools project. By the time I exited my dark den, eyes blinking in the harsh light, August had rolled to a close and it was time to take up the teacher’s mantle again…

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Of Books and Boundaries

For as long as I can remember, books have been my companions. I carried them to grocery stores, to doctors’ offices, to school, and to work. I toted tomes to movie theaters, to beaches, to park benches, and to parties. I never go anywhere without them. As a young girl, I remember reading while walking with my mother through the aisles of the local grocery store, my mom telling me to put the book away before I ran into someone…

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The History of Us

When my kiddos were between the ages of 2 and 11 and the basket beside our fireplace burgeoned with library books, a good friend from church set me a task: How can a homeschool mom with a bundle of children (and all the work that comes along with them) go about teaching the classics, especially if she didn’t get a great books education herself?…

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The Apostle Paul on Getting an A

The school year at CenterForLit has taken flight, which means that the hustle and bustle involved in administrating the start of our Online Academy has largely receded, to be replaced by one of the most rewarding parts of my job: getting to know my students. And let me tell you, these kids are wonderful...

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What Should a Student Read Before Going to College?

I’m often asked, “What does my high schooler need to read before college?,” as though there were one or two novels out of the hundreds and hundreds of spectacular works in the Western tradition without which any primary educational journey would be void of meaning. I don’t mean to ridicule the impulse to choose wisely what we offer our students. We clearly should. But I do sense an undercurrent of misunderstanding about the educational project in questions like these…

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