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A Word From the Head


October 17, 2014
Mr. Rod Gilbert, Head of School


On Learning in Today's World

Like a mighty waterfall, the value proposition of a private Christian school K-12 experience flows from a parent’s vision for their child. We desire for our children to learn the three r’s (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic), surrounded by teachers who reflect our core convictions while living in today’s world. 

Regents parents and teachers ever-so-slowly expose the realities of this world to our children with a deliberate and patient pace. We have no intention of deliberating over Ebola, Wall Street ticks, or ISIS with our young children. But, in our Logic Hall, our teachers will unpack these issues in accordance with the age development of our lovely, highly opinionated pubescent ones who may love and hate the world – fair – at the same time. If you have a middle schooler you know what I mean. Around Harkness Tables in Rhetoric Hall, teachers will ebb and flow from the past, to current events, to the future with the swiftness of Fred Astaire gliding as a dancer. This trivium method of partnered and ever-so-slow exposure by the teachers stands as a major part of the value proposition of Regents. 

All of us parents have stories about the charming naiveté of our little ones. Here is one of ours. At age four, my son was at the height of the Iraqi invasion after 9/11. He was lying on the floor playing with Legos within earshot and corner eyesight of our TV as Tom Brokaw said, “Aircraft carriers are positioning off the coast of Kuwait. . . .”  Without looking up from his toys, he casually said, “When did you and Dr. Puckett (his school’s Headmaster and my boss) send in the ships?”  Angie looked across the couch at me. Without flinching, I just said “Oh, I guess about a week ago.” He just kept happily playing with his Legos, and then brushed his teeth and went to sleep with little 5-year old thoughts.  And, you know what? That is all he needed to have on his mind.

Yesterday my heart jumped to an “old newsreel” from when we lived in Raleigh, because Mrs. Norton was cogently recounting the ebb and flow of the world since Regents opened in 1992. Many things have happened in Austin, the USA, and the world. For the next 20 years many, many more things will happen. And, yet, even as the world chugs along and absorbs war and peace, health and sickness, poverty and riches, shortages and excesses – we will still be focused on the three r’s. 

Even when the next disease sweeps or the next battle ensues, our teachers will wake up, come to school, and guide the children with poems of grandeur. They will teach fraction reduction like a new adventure waiting to be discovered. Sitting in a rocking chair, our teachers will open Old Yeller to a group of little ones who have never heard the story, and who have no idea of the dramatic tragedy awaiting them – that we all know will bring tears to their eyes. They will painstakingly review a foreign language translation as if it is the most important thing in that hour. And do you know what? It is. Because these K-12 experiences are based on the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead to redeem our souls and His created order. These things – fractions – poems – translations – pottery - sports tactics are all lovely expressions of His created order – His world.

The K-12 classical, Christian education flows from a liberal arts tradition that transcends the ebb and flow of civilizations. In 30 years, our current fourth graders will be leading institutions and people through their contemporary fights of what? I would venture some will be defining “What is a human?” in terms of the blending of artificial intelligence with biomedical ethics. During their K-12 experience -  these highly formational and impressionable years - we are committed to scaffolding the right skills, the right critical tools, the right communication techniques and the right spiritual convictions so that our children are able to address the things that we know are coming even though we do not know what these things are. 

Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. Even so, our children need the flexibility of these core values to lead people with acumen and steadfastness during unpredictable times.

To pursue this even further, I encourage you to read C.S. Lewis’ sermon “Learning in Wartime” in 1939 during World War II.  Click here for a copy that includes some of my marginalia. 

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Like a mighty waterfall, the value proposition of a private Christian school K-12 experience flows from a parent's vision for their child. We desire for our children to learn the three r's (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic), surrounded by teachers who reflect our core convictions while living in today's world.
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Rod Gilbert
Head of School

B.S. Economics
M. Divinity, Mid Amer Sem
Ph.D. (candidate) S Baptist Sem
Interests: soccer, Alpine dairy goats

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