Language Arts; The Heart of the Battle
Stacey Gothard M.Ed. CCC-SLP
It is that time of year again when homeschoolers and Co-Ops are, with conviction and confidence, making a determination on a Language Arts program and therefore its curriculum. Many are doing due diligence to this matter, and all hearts are purposed for the good of the children. All desire a path they can manage and at the same time, receive sound benefit.
Families and groups are struggling to make the right choice and all too soon begin to wonder why Language Arts seem to be one of the most difficult curriculums to determine. The truth is, our enemy has chosen as one of his major assaults on our Lord, the Language Arts. We have been thrown into a battle we were unaware existed. The reality is there are three ideologies battling for our allegiance and two of them have dressed in masterful disguises to make us unaware of the conflict in the first place. The gravity of the situation is this: our decision is not about picking curricula, it is about choosing a side.
Have patience with me as I give an analogy to make the situation clear. My children like this silly show called, “Walk the Prank”. I sat down one evening and watched it with them. A woman walked into a bakery to buy goodies for her family. Unbeknownst to her, she was walking into a setup. Everything was disguised as a real bakery: customers, product, fully equipped kitchen, and employees working. As she walked in, she commented on how yummy everything looked and smelled. She was ready to buy! As she began to sample and order bread, cookies, and cupcakes; other customer’s baked goods began to fly up towards the ceiling and stick to it! The clerk immediately assured her that their goods were so light and fluffy that it defied gravity, but would eventually “settle” and she would just enjoy the perfect baked goods. She was so awe inspired by what she saw taking place, which she accepted what was told to her and continued to purchase the items. As she took the box off the counter, the lid popped open, and everything flew in front of her face and landed on the ceiling. She dropped the box, clasped her hands over her mouth, and began to scream. The clerk, seized the climatic moment, placed her hands on the woman’s shoulder and directed her glance to the camera that had been filming her all along. The clerk then said, “You have walked the prank”. She had been completely convinced and then realized she was utterly deceived.
This, of course, is quite amusing and entertaining when there is no real loss to the individual. Everyone, including the victim, can laugh and appreciate the moment. However, when deception costs us dearly, it is no laughing matter at all. Now, I am not one who lightly blames Satan for many things. I tend to err on the side that it is my sinful self or the sinful nature of others that produces most of the struggles and pain. But I am also acutely aware that we do indeed have an enemy, who is very active and obsessively committed to attack and attempt to destroy God’s people for the sole reason of hurting God himself. The best way to hurt a parent is to attack that which they cherish...their children.
Satan has done a fine job of setting up the deception. He knows and has known that we were created in the image of God. What separates us from the rest of creation is the gift of Language. If he can strip us of our ability to communicate or receive communication, then he can do severe harm, if not permanent damage; to our relationship to God, to the body of Christ, and to our influence to share the Good News to the world.
Language is what created Life. God spoke the world into existence. He wrote His story down for the ages by Divine inspiration. The Word became flesh and dwelt among man. The great pagan civilizations mastered the art of teaching language and every teaching method we have today comes from some aspect of their teachings. The church, from the 1st century AD till the 1800s, wisely embraced what the pagans discovered about Language as a triune system. It is even reasonable to conclude that if it were not for Classical Language, our great nation would never have come into existence. It took men, most all of whom were classically educated, to have in their hearts the truth that is the Lord; desire goodness that serves all, not just themselves; and the wisdom which comes from learned logical reasoning, in order to behold such principles and precepts as those found in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
In the 1800s however, a new ideology took hold called the Enlightenment which declared that man was his own god because he was logical on his own. Its first order of business was to do away with Classical Language Theory. In its place was Modern Composition. Its conquest lasted many years and the results were devastating, making way for a new idea. This new ideology swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite pole. No longer was man and the world a set of rules and laws, but man was passionate and could create reality. Everything became relative. Out of this philosophy birthed a new Language theory called Process Theory. This is the system you and I were indoctrinated with in our public institutions in our early educational years. As we know all to personally, it failed to teach us to master many aspects of our gift of Language: as a generation, we have a minimal understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and writing. This theory thankfully, only lasted a couple of decades as its results were obvious... complete failure. From the mid-1980’s till now our Language Arts curriculums, whether they be secular or Christian, whether they are geared for institutions or home study, have had a combination of both Modern and Process language theories as their guide. The results have been no better. Only 12% of students coming from a college preparatory program have sufficient writing skills according to SAT results. That sad reality is that while Christian curriculums, at their heart, are trying to serve the Lord; they do not realize that their Language programs, steeped in Modern Theory, Process theory, or a combination thereof; are serving the Enemy. They too are “Walking the Prank,” and I believe they have no idea.
So why, when knowing all this, do we begin to feel that knot in the pit of our stomach and a fire in our belly? Well, all of us, strive to be thoughtful and purposeful in the all the choices we make regarding our children’s education. We are not lazy, but convicted! We are not living selfishly, but sacrificially for His great Plan and Purpose! But, it is tough to know what all our enemy is up to when we are overwhelmed with our ministry of parenting and educating. So, when we realize what has been going on, well, we get pretty upset. Thankfully, the Lord knows our struggles, and He knows the enemy's schemes.
We can have peace and confidence in Classical Language. It is the only method that defines language as a trinity of goodness, truth, and beauty just as the essence of Christ: the Way (Goodness), the Truth (Truth), and the Life (Beauty). It is the only teaching method that acknowledges the Godly purpose of language itself as a function of the soul that uses both reason and passion, intellect and imagination, to impact our world. It is the only method that strives in teaching all this to its pupils. It is the only Language Arts program with superior outcomes; throughout the ages, and today as seen in Whitfield Academy’s 100% success rate on SAT and ACT exams. They use Classical Language theory. Go here to check them out: https://youtu.be/x-viy7e3u7A. So how could any of us go wrong in choosing it? It makes you want to say to Satan, “The blinders are off, and the gig is up, buddy!”
Friends, I hope that I have persuaded you as I have been persuaded. I realize that some have tried to implement Classical Language programs and have struggled. It is an old way of which most of us were never taught. It is difficult to both break free from the comfort of familiar and become a student of something we are simultaneously trying to teach. Even though the task seems daunting, we must not abandon something whose results are incomparable and whose purposes are so pure. We may be challenged as we learn something new to us, but that should not be what has us reject it. The only reason to deny something is if it is contrary to our Lord and ineffective.
Please look carefully at curriculum whose philosophy and pedagogy are Classical. We must all prayerfully realize that our enemy wants to keep us from a deep relationship with our Lord. What better way to do that, than to break the lines of communication. If we can't understand the message fully then how can we know the messenger? If we can't express the message well, how can we communicate it to the world?
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Amen.
correction: My kids have shown me both "Walk the Prank" and "Carbonaro Effect". I mistaked one for the other. My apologies for the error.