Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Graduation Funnies

And this was the back of the bulletin. Certain members of my family thought this was very funny, laughing hilariously. Others simply smiled, barely, and said it was very funny.

Here you go.

Bulletin, Page 4.

Dinner Reception Following our Ceremony- For your opportunity to mill around and network, maybe pick up some important contacts, speak to the Valedictorian, or simply snatch some free food and drink, we invite you stay after the ceremony and join us for food, fun and frivolity.

Rebecca is glad that you made the effort to see her off to her new beginning.

For those of you with small children, please make sure their lives are as full of joy as Rebecca. This do and thou shalt prosper.

When you are sad, think of Rebecca, and smile.

Graduation gifts are not expected, nor are they refused. It is cold in Moscow, even Idaho, so if you have a ratty old jacket, you can keep it, and simply contribute to the “Keep Rebecca Warm Without Jump Starting Global Warming Fund.” Envelopes will be provided in the burger line.

Rebecca is an expert on Polly Pockets. If you have any girls thinking about investing in this worthwhile purchase, please contact her ASAP. This is vitally important, the ASAP part, because her plane leaves on Tuesday, and if you have to make a purchase, the decision-making process is quite arduous indeed.

Moscow, Idaho is Mosc with a long-o. Moscow, Russia is Moss with a cow. That makes N. Idaho seem like a Muslim land and Russia seem like a farmyard. Not sure Russia has many Moscs but I’m pretty sure N. Idaho has a lot of cows.

NSA students read a lot of books. This makes them really smart. It also does a great deal of damage to their eyes. After all, it gets dark at 4:30pm in Idaho in the winter and since that part of the country has not yet received electricity, the lamp reading is really tough.

I am sure a goodly number of young chappies, as Rebecca might say, will be looking her way, even before their eyes are damaged. May her reading then, improve her vision, and not make her look back with dimness of eyes.

Rebecca’s brothers and sisters would like to send her a loving fare thee well. They are sad that she will not be at dinner table but they, of the silver lining disposition, are very much looking forward to a 1/8 increase in the overall amount of available dinner-time nourishment.

If the good life is a bowl of peaches, then we have had a Georgia orchard full with our blessed years with Rebecca. We love you.

Graduation Bulletin

And just so you get the real feel, here's the bulletin.

Hurt Academy

Anno Domini August 8, 2008

“All Beginnings Testify of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Commencement Ceremony
Hurt Academy 2008

Graduating Class
Rebecca Hurt

Rebecca Hurt

Class Speech
Rebecca Hurt

College Bound
Rebecca Hurt
To New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho

Commencement Ceremony
Hurt Academy 2008

Opening Prayer

Psalm 63- O, Lord My God Most Earnestly, P. 92

Commencement Address
Virgil Hurt, Father of THE Graduate

Psalm 127, Except the Lord Build the House, P. 163

Presentation of the Diploma

Valedictorian Speech
Rebecca Hurt-THE Graduate

O God of Earth and Altar, P. 369

Closing Prayer

THE Graduate Speaks

Thought I'd post Rebecca's graduation speech.

Here it is.

Graduation Speech
Rebecca Hurt

Good evening:

Now, I could say that I’m going to keep it short today, but I have been to enough events that my heart sank within me as the speaker announced he was going to “keep it short”, that I’ll just say I’m going to brief you, kinda like they do in the CIA, on a couple highlights of my primary and high school education.

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, or even write for that matter, though I have seen proof of my early dyslexia, my name being written right to left with all the letters backwards. I can’t even remember teaching Elizabeth how to read, though they say I did. I do remember trying to read Robinson Crusoe when I was six, but even though I tried to do it multiple times, I never got past the first page. But it was such a cute little red book.

My first real memories of school are the excitement that came with new pencils and shiny plastic pencil boxes and in writing in awkward print, H.A.M., Hurt Academy of Muchkins. I was pretty psyched that my school had a name.

A particular happening that mom wanted me to insert was that for a home school project fair we participated in yearly, I chose to put together a project on Virginia, surprisingly prophetic. My memory from the fair though, was looking at Gresham Schlect’s model of a Greek galley ship, and then dejectedly looking back at my hand drawn, deformed cardinal and dogwood tree.
Being homeschooled, there are strange things that end up being the exciting school events, like testing. After we moved to Virginia, we started taking the California Achievement Tests, and that was the highlight of the school year. Even the SAT was fascinating, taking place in a real live, cold and sterile public school.

When I hit 7th grade, I started the Omnibus reading program, on my own initiative. I think I have always had a habit of coming up with extra school subjects for myself, and this looked like a great idea.

There were some hard times with Omnibus, and I can in no ways say that I always finished my reading, or grasped all the philosophy, but it taught me really how to read. I found that if I struggled through Plato, I could pick up Tolstoy and find it pleasant reading.

I think the craziest thing I did with Omnibus was read the 2nd half of Mein Kampf, even though it wasn’t required, just to say I did. What ever.

Other than reading, high school was full of Latin, sprinkled with French and a smidgen of Greek. With my love of throwing in extra subjects, I picked up Arabic, which went well with what remnants of dyslexia I had stuck in my head, with its writing right to left, which comes naturally to me.

Cross country added some physical education. I ran for the home school cross country team all four years, which I always found shocking, seeing how tortuous I found it. But it was good for me

Math was pursued through high school, but with tears.

Now I am moving on, or so you might say. For really, learning at New Saint Andrews will be much the same as it’s been for the past several years: lots of Latin, though there it is taught as a spoken language; reading the greats from Homer to my love, Dostoyevsky, and there are even rumors of reading most of City of God in one night; math, though I am hopeful from the title “Philosophy of Math” that we might be doing something other than the trig I struggled with; and intense theology, though of course I have been blessed to learn much in my home and church here.

In closing, (I was informed in my public speaking class at CVCC this past semester that this was the proper way to end a speech) I want to thank first my amazing parents, without whom I would know nothing. And thank you all so much for coming this evening, and for being such a lovely church to be a member of, that makes me so happy when I look around at communion , and for being such good friends. I will truly miss you all. God speed and I’ll see you at Christmas time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Graduation Day

Well, it's been a while since I last posted. I have good reasons and I hope to state some of those soon. The main one is that I have been on Sabbatical all summer. I mean, really on Sabbatical. But more on that later.

My daughter just graduated from our Home School High School. She is headed off tomorrow to New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. We are happy for her and will greatly miss her.

We had her commencement ceremony last Friday night on 8/8/8. Here is the commencement address that I gave on that occasion.

Commencement Address 2008
Rebecca Hurt
Hurt Academy

This occasion finds me a happy man. Not just happy for this particular occasion but happy as a description of my person. I am happy. I am content. I am overflowing with gratitude. Why does this matter? What does this have to do with a commencement address? Well, only everything.

Many people take up the task of educating their children. This is true of those who hire educators to teach their children as well as those who embrace the task themselves as home schoolers. We have done both but in Rebecca’s case, we were pretty much exclusively home schoolers. That means that Rebeccas was a home schooled child for all of her 18 year sojourn in our home.

Remarkably, she was able to do this without catching that dreadful disease that manifests itself in formless jumpers, nervously misplaced laughs, long-faces and abject fear in crowds, especially if there are public school children about. I speak of home school syndrome. Be careful, some of your kids may catch it if they do not build up enough immunities early on in life.

What I want to talk to you about today is the anti-dote to this dreadful disease. And while I cannot absolutely guarantee a full-proof immunization, I must say that our success ratio thus far in our home has been fairly high. So, I want to tie in my first paragraph, dealing with happiness as an anti-dote to home school disease. You’ve all seen that disease, right? It looks different in different homes but has a certain set of common characteristics.

I suppose the most notable symptom is the harried mother. While this is not, in itself, the cause of the disease, it is an indicator that the disease is lurking and a breakout may occur at any moment. Given the degree of the harriedness, it may indicate that a breakout has already occurred and is running rampantly through the family. The exasperated mother tends to push harder in the home when the need of the day is to stop pushing. The children resist the force applied and the result is an epic battle between mother and child resulting in a tense environment adversely conducive to learning. I am thankful to God and to my wife, to say that I rarely saw a harried mother in our home. Learning at home was and is a happy and peaceful endeavor in our home. And I think this is the key ingredient to joyful learning, the goal of education.

Now, while I wholeheartedly embrace rigor in a school, it must be a particular kind of rigor. I am not of the school of thought that teaches that all education must be fun. There are many jobs that are merely work and enjoyment and fun ought not to be easily confused. One man’s work may be intensely rigorous, with a great deal of blood, sweat and tears, while at the same time be enormously fulfilling to him. He may feel intense joy and even a giddy happiness about this intensive labor. Another man may have such a job that other men envy only to find it tedious and boring. What is the difference between the two men? Is it the job? Or the man? Obvious answer, I think.

So, how does this relate to our topic at hand? Just this way. The goal of education is to produce a learner. That is pretty much it. Once you have accomplished this goal, you can stop being harried. And once you stop being harried, the home becomes a joyful place where all the cherub children simply sit around and produce happy feelings for the successful mother. Well, not exactly, but close.

The goal of producing a learner is different than simply home schooling or sending your kid to a rigorous academic Christian and classical school. When we confuse the two, we run the risk of raising a child with home school syndrome, an active episode away from ruining all your hard work at educating. When we confuse the two, our Classical School Students develop an angst for the very kind of education that ought to produce happy feet. When the educators see their jobs as delivering a packaged product of education, facts and figures, units and lessons, subjects and solutions, then the child is in grave danger of being seethed in its mother’s milk. The very thing that ought to produce life and health and peace begins to produce death and sickness and discord.

This ought not to be the case! So, how do we remedy this situation? Is it with books and drills and lessons? Not really. Since the goal of education is to produce learners, we have to aim in the right direction. If we aim at lessons and curriculums, books and units, we really miss the mark altogether. We want to produce a learner. We are not trying to instill a bunch of facts, although we are not opposed to facts. But we would much prefer that our students eat their alphabet soup willingly rather than have us shove it down their throats through pursed lips and clenched teeth, one horrible spoonful at a time. And that is precisely what many parents do. Thus, guaranteeing that their children will have an eternal disdain for this wonderful gift of learning.

If you aim at the developing the right kind of student, then you begin to understand what is the need of the day.

How do you do this?

First of all, Love to learn yourself. Read books, not because you have to but because you want to. Learn from the books. Change. Teach your children what you are learning. Talk about it around your dinner table. Get animated when you learn something you had never thought of before. Reveal your ignorance and rejoice at having left a piece of it behind. Be glad when the children learn something you didn’t know. Do not compete with your children. Encourage them to teach you things and then get excited with them as they pass you up in various ways and in various areas.

Read the right kinds of books. Make sure your children read the right kinds of books. And from that, I don’t mean merely Christian biographies, apologetics, and history textbooks. Don’t be a squeamish book marm. There is probably not a quicker way to the dreaded disease than taking this route. These bits of granola are appropriate in their time and place but a steady diet of them, will develop a bulimic student given enough time. Eventually, such an academic bulimic may give up this sort of food altogether and simply waste away into an anorexic heart attack.

I know, I know, some of you like granola. Or at least, you feel like you have to say that you do, because you think it is healthy. It may be, but granola does not three square meals make.

Feed with novels, good ones and classic, but also other genres that interest the student and feed the soul. Lead them with the interests that God has given them. When they want to read a book, you have educated them! So, let them read. There will plenty of time for more strict history, philosophy and such meaty portions. But first, let’s work up a hearty appetite. Fill your home with good and interesting reading materials. Read the children exciting and thought-provoking imaginative literature. This will pay huge dividends down the road when the children become interested in many other areas and move onto the philosophical approach to life that sets in later in the teens and twenties.

By God’s grace, our sweet Rebecca has been an engaged learner for many years. She has an appetite for learning, from reading books about Middle East history, to a great love for G.K. Chesterton and Lewis, to the cultured side of Jane Austin, Tolstoy and Dostoyevski. She is interested in just about everything and because this is true, getting her to study is not a problem. She does not come to the subject with pursed lips and clenched teeth. O contrare, she is wanting more, more. And she is just now beginning to realize, that as much as she has eaten, there is always more, more. There is always time enough to eat but never enough time to eat enough. And this becomes rather an intensely humbling realization.

And I am glad that as she continues to learn, having already read much of the Western mind, she is also learning how little, in fact, she really knows. And why does this make my heart glad? Simply because I see that, aiming at the person, we, my wife and I, hit the mark of education. We have developed a learner. And not simply a learner who’s voracious appetite has made her fat and lazy. Far from it.

Her veracious appetite has revealed her truly anemic and unnourished reality. She is but a babe in the world of wisdom. Which, I might add, is the second and deeper goal of education. Many there are who set down this path and few that find it. In fact, the very process of learning is often the culprit for not attaining the goal. Having got education, knowledge running over, the learner becomes convinced that he is either not in need of a greater and deeper wisdom, or shamefully, that he already possesses it. But humility in learning produces wisdom.

And so, while my dear daughter has not yet attained a mature version of this wisdom, I hope and pray and trust, that by God’s grace, she will pursue knowledge in such a humble way, that she will be blessed with that adornment from above, lovely wisdom.

And now, we are proud to say that we are at a wonderful crossroads in life. Our first child is graduating from High School and heading off to college. In fact, we leave for the airport Monday and she flies away on Tuesday. Is this a sad time? Far from it. We will miss her. Sure. But this parting is nearing the endgame of all that we have put our hands to these eighteen years. It is with great parental pride that we look upon our lovely firstborn. We had a baby and raised a woman. We couldn’t be more pleased. We commend her to God and to God be the glory. Amen.