Why Logic?

Logic defines the way things relate to each other. In a classical school, students begin every subject by memorizing facts. The facts are the subject’s grammar. When a student has learned them well enough, the next thing is to learn the subject’s logic. How are the facts related? How can they be distinguished or combined?

Logic can also be generalized more abstractly. The rules that govern how things relate to each other may be described in a symbolic way, similar to mathematics. Logic is often learned this way in connection with subjects like geometry or computer programming. The more traditional way for classical schools is to study logic as a part of language. At Columbia, we can become acquainted with using logic in fifth and sixth grade through computer exercises and puzzles, but we begin to study categorical logic in earnest at the seventh and eighth grade levels by learning to recognize the forms of valid reasoning.

The aim of learning logic in a classical school is to develop the ability to craft a coherent essay or present a speech for some purpose. This is the art of rhetoric, and the application of logic in such a presentation is called dialectic. More generally, the knowledge of logic gives scholars the ability to think correctly about their observations and what they read or hear from others. This has wide application to science and every kind of art.

It may seem that everyone already knows how to think correctly, but that’s not so. Logic allows the thinker to say something more useful than, “I disagree with what that person has said” or “I feel like the truth is….” Instead of simply expressing an opinion or a feeling, the logic student can express reasoning by giving statements that are supported in valid, objective ways. Instead of saying, “I disagree with that,” logic allows the student to say something like, “Your statement is based on an unsupported premise. You haven’t made the case for what you are saying.” Or, “Your reasoning is not valid, because your premises do not lead to the conclusion you are making.” Or on the other hand, “I accept your conclusion because you have supported it with true premises and valid reasoning.”

Parents and schools ought to teach the logic of every subject because it allows students to understand the relationship between basic facts. They ought to teach logic as its own subject when students are ready to think more abstractly, because the study of logic allows students to recognize the difference between a coherently-supported statement and an unsupported opinion or statement of feeling, and also to support their own statements when writing or speaking.

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Why Classical?

Classical schools teach the liberal arts, which developed in the early years of western history, in the civilizations that produced some of the oldest achievements still widely recognized and used today.

During the decline of Rome, the liberal arts were adopted and adapted by the great Christian teachers that shaped the civilization of the Middle Ages. Following the lead of the ancient masters, they emphasized lofty ideals that make humans the creatures that we are. Our minds were given to contemplate thoughts that transcend earthly life and inspire us to greatness in our character.

The transcendent ideals of goodness, truth, and beauty were recognized by Aristotle (330 B.C.), but also exemplified by Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. These ideals are the constant aim of classical education, meant to give young scholars an opportunity to become the best human beings that their personal gifts allow.

To understand word liberal, one must recall that slavery was a blotch on history throughout the world before the time of America. (That’s what made the Declaration of Independence so revolutionary. It declared the fact self-evident that “all men [i.e. people] are created equal.”) A liberal education in a slave world was an education for free people (līberī in Latin). Slaves were not allowed to receive it; they had a limited, servile education. It was understood that a free citizen should be able to think independently and be informed about a wide variety of things. Think of Maximus in Gladiator. His liberal arts education (among other things) set him apart from the other gladiators, and allowed him to quickly prove himself their superior. In most places before America, free women were second-class citizens. Free girls did not receive the same education as their male counterparts. But since the 19th Century, the liberal arts were improved here by the expectation that girls and boys both deserve a liberal education. Girls, boys, human beings of every age and race are līberī.

The term liberal arts is plural because there are seven. The first three are language-oriented, and the last four take in the study of Creation. At the elementary and middle-school level the emphasis is on the first three, called the trivium, meaning “triple way” or “threefold way.” Higher level education places greater emphasis on the last four, the quadrivium.

The trivium contains three areas of study that are subjects and also stages of learning within any subject. They are called grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Grammar is about memorizing the facts, the building blocks – the practice of young children. Logic teaches the relationships between them and nuances of meaning – the delight of middle-grade students. Rhetoric studies the art of self-expression – the intent of middle to high school students.

The quadrivium traditionally includes mathematics, geometry, astronomy, and music. Today these areas branch into all parts of science and technical artistry. While the trivium absorbs most of the effort for beginning scholars, the quadrivium takes the front seat at higher grade levels.

Parents and schools should use the classical approach to education because it provides an excellent way to prepare young minds to meet the widest variety of possible future circumstances, using God’s gifts to the fullest. Our whole community benefits from classical Lutheran education because Christian civilization must be taught, and that’s exactly what classical Lutheran education does.

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Ever Wondered Why CLS Teaches Latin? Here You Go.

Last month I read David Epstein’s new book, Range, thinking that it might be a good explanation of the advantages that a liberal arts (classical) education can provide to young scholars. It did not disappoint. But if you don’t want to read the whole book yet, you might take a look at this article Epstein published on The Guardian.

There is a planned post for the Columbia Lutheran School blog site explaining the advantages of late specialization, but if you want to see the research behind that idea, please read Epstein. Also, when it comes to teaching Latin, keep in mind that it’s not taught at classical schools in the tradition of a foreign language elective where students can specialize in the hope of someday visiting a certain exotic land. Learning Latin is all about the general-purpose mastery of language in general, together with the opportunity to benefit more deeply from the great conversation of western civilization. There are many exotic lands from the past that you can visit with a trip to the library, and visiting those places allows you to understand the wider world of the present day. The study of Latin can be your introduction.

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The Jury Is In on School Choice

On balance, school choice is a win. It makes sense. Consider the expenditures per student in the public system, the smaller expenditures per student in choice schools, and that the public system usually retains a portion of its funding while being freed from the responsibility to educate those students. When that happens, public school teachers shouldn’t lose anything, though fewer adminstrators and staff may be required and the union will enjoy less income. Unless, that is, the management in public school systems prioritizes administration above teachers.

School choice is also a win for students and families.

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Top Ten Reasons for Studying Latin

Usually these lists are quick reads, and mostly for the humor. This time it’s a carefully constructed and well-presented set of reasons for learning Latin. If you have had your doubts, or if the young Latin student in your house has expressed complaints about his or her work, then you may want to take a look. You can find it here

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Bethany Lutheran Church, CLS, and the Souls of our Community

This article describes a trend that has been noticed in many parts of American public and private life for some years. Several American generations have on the whole lost a deep appreciation for the value of faith, especially the most formative faith of western civilization: Christianity.

There has been a strong push toward multiculturalism on several fronts simultaneously, notably in the areas of religion, history, and social norms. This is linked to the trend mentioned above. For clarity in this article, we will distinguish between “cross-cultural” and “multicultural” points of view. The word “culture” is used to describe the traditions, language, and customs of a group of people. It often includes their native religion, but not necessarily. A person’s native religion depends on choices made by his father and mother that do not change their culture.

A “cross-cultural” view recognizes that various cultures each have their dignity and special value worth preserving, and that there can be communication and influence between cultures without damaging or eroding them. A culture is only wrong to the extent that it opposes universally-recognizable truth. One person can function and communicate in multiple cultures beyond his own native culture. An example of this is Christian missionary activity such as in the book of Acts when St. Paul traveled throughout the Roman empire, speaking in various languages and using the local customs to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s important to note that the gospel of Christ is not part of any specific earthly culture, but transcends culture just as the god worshipped by the ancient Jewish people is transcendent far beyond the local gods worshipped by heathen people throughout the world. While the gospel has been a powerful formative influence on western civilization and on America, it would be a mistake to think that it’s part of western or American civilization. The gospel, and therefore the Christian faith, exists outside the many earthly cultures and is truly cross-cultural. That’s why the Romans continued to be Romans whether Christianity was accepted among them or not. The gospel has influenced the cultures where it has been embraced, but it does not create a homogenous earthly culture in all parts of the world. Palestinian Christians have a culture distinct from African Christians, and together those cultures are distinct from that of American Christians. Yet they also share something with one another that runs deeper than the traditions in any culture. In this way, the gospel can unite people across many cultures without destroying their most valuable characteristics.

The “multicultural” point of view attempts to unite the people of many cultures, but without the gospel of Christ. Instead of providing a common thread, it attempts to uphold all elements of every culture, especially where they contradict each other. It relies on something like moral relativism or the Orwellian skill of believing two contradictory propositions at the same time. In the process, multiculturalism undermines the distinctive value of every culture. Even more problematic, it denies the value of the message that St. Paul was communicating in the book of Acts. It attempts to destroy the foundation of the gospel.

Unfortunately, the multicultural point of view has been spreading for many years, and dominates most education systems throughout the world. American public and higher education is exhibit A in the United States. The massive influence of this trend is behind the observations in the article linked above: a decline in religious faith, and the difficulty that Americans have when dealing with evil.

One of the serious spiritual problems with the multicultural approach is that it goes hand-in-hand with moral relativism. Moral relativism is the notion that the definitions of right and wrong have been constructed by people in their particular cultural situations. It would mean that there is no absolute definition of what is right and what is wrong that transcends all cultures. What is right or wrong for people in China would be in opposition to what is right or wrong for people in Uganda, and multiculturalism says that the opposition of the two doesn’t matter at all. It calls them both morally right and correct, regardless of whether they are compatible.

Moral relativism takes another step when people raised in a certain culture decide that they don’t agree with its morals. According to the multicultural point of view, they should be able to establish their own personal system of morality that may or may not be compatible with other systems. There is inevitable conflict when people try to live by opposing moral systems, but the multicultural point of view says that none of them is superior or inferior in any way.

The conflict that takes place joins multiculturalism and moral relativism with another destructive philosophy: social marxism. Karl Marx laid the foundation for the atheistic philosophy that drove the communist revolutions of the 20th Century. The basic doctrine of Marxism is the struggle between classes of people. With Marx, the classes were defined by their wealth and income, but today the struggling classes are defined in many different ways. For example: by sex (men vs. women), by ethnicity (such as white vs. others), and even by recently-imagined categories like “privilege” and the newly-defined fluid concept of “gender.” What they have in common is the Marxist struggle between classes of people. Thanks to moral relativism, there are no rules in these struggles, and they can be brutal. Journalism and propaganda become synonyms. There is hardly a distinction between lies and truth. Even clear words like “violence” and “murder” are twisted to serve one or another side of the Marxist struggle.

It’s no coincidence that “traditional religion” has suffered in this environment, because in a way Christianity has been the target all along. This explains the decline of religious faith among Americans. It also explains the difficulty when those who have been steeped and indoctrinated in multiculturalism, moral relativism, and social Marxism are confronted with something undeniably and objectively evil.

Bethany Lutheran Church is here as a witness to the culturally transcendent truth of the gospel. We all have one creator, and He has revealed himself in specific ways that are accessible to people of all cultures. He does not tolerate disobedience and other kinds of sin. Instead, He has provided a redeemer: His eternally-begotten Son, who became human to accomplish the redemption of all humanity. While sinners didn’t (and couldn’t!) ask for Him to do this, He did it anyway, as the only alternative to everlasting punishment in a place of torment. He did this because He loves us. He graciously restored us to eternal life, while remaining perfectly righteous himself. The only way for us to lose is to reject our Savior by closing our ears His word or rejecting the faith it gives. By faith, we stand before God in the righteousness He provides.

Columbia Lutheran School serves the mission of Bethany Lutheran Church by teaching what is needed for people to engage with the revelation of God and to critically distinguish between what is true and what is false, between what is good and what is evil, and between what is beautiful and what lacks beauty. Thanks be to God that our little congregation, together with Concordia in Hood River and with the indispensable assistance of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, stands against the forces of multiculturalism, moral relativism, and social Marxism. May Columbia Lutheran School continue boldly to carry that torch for the salvation of souls and for the good of our neighbors.

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Tuition Assistance: A Blessing for Our Families

It is CLS policy that our families see actual-cost tuition billing. The amount can vary from year to year, depending on enrollment. While this amount is comparable to other fine private schools in Oregon and elsewhere, it can still be surprising to those who have not previously considered the cost of a great education. We believe that it’s important that our families know this cost even if you don’t end up paying the full amount. Knowing the true price of something is an important part of knowing its value.

Columbia would like to make a high-quality Christian education affordable to families committed to providing this for their children. To that end, we encourage our families to participate in our tuition assistance program. This post is a report on most of the tuition assistance awarded to our participating families during the 2016-2017 school year.

The total credits and tuition assistance for this school year have been $21,932.50. This includes discounts for multiple students per family, a practically free tuition for a new student via the new student voucher won from last year’s radio auction, and $10,557 in directed and general tuition assistance. It does not include ShopWithScrip.com credit toward tuition, which is figured on an ongoing basis, as family scrip purchases are reported to the school treasurer.

For the upcoming school year, we are expecting our first year of proceeds from the Quinn/Klaviter endowment to provide the equivalent of 1-3 full tuition amounts. The intent is to split these funds as general tuition assistance among students participating in financial aid, according to the estimated need of the families.

Besides the endowment, tuition assistance money comes from special gifts and fundraising. Unlike some schools, CLS does not require that our families participate in tuition assistance or fundraising, though families receiving tuition assistance are encouraged to help with fundraising, if possible. The more help, the more assistance there can be.

To participate in CLS tuition assistance, families begin with the TADS financial aid assessment of your family’s financial need. This can be done online, but TADS has a customer service crew in the U.S. available to help by phone and email. The school and other families can also give advice and some kinds of help, if needed. TADS is a national company providing financial services with customer support for schools and their families. Their financial aid assessment process is designed to keep financial data secure and confidential.

For anyone reading this before April 1, 2017, remember that our per-family registration fee of $450 has been drastically (but temporarily) reduced since December. It will return to the full amount on April 1. Qualifying students must be registered for the next school year via TADS before April 1.

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New School Year Brings Fresh Opportunities

On August 1, area students will have an opportunity to try out the reading program at Columbia and get a leg up on the coming school year. While this is mostly geared toward younger students, some older students may also benefit. As of this writing, we have several new students planning to attend, as well as a few Columbia students returning for the program. It’s open to any families in the area, not just Columbia students. The Running Start for Reading will run on weekdays from August 1 through August 19, during the regular school-day hours (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Thanks to The Dalles Christian Homeschool Band, students at Columbia who are ready may learn a band instrument and participate in regular rehearsals and two concerts each year. The student chorus also sings at those concerts, which take place just before Christmas and toward May. This year, there will be a beginning band and an advanced band, both of which will meet on Friday afternoons.

Beginning this year, parents of Columbia students can stay up-to-date with their children’s daily and weekly progress through a state-of-the-art online system called PowerSchool. This capability goes far beyond report cards, and helps parents to work with teachers for the good of the students.

Columbia continues to use the online, adaptive testing system called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to monitor the learning of each student through the school year. Test results provide objective guidance to teachers about areas of strength or concern in the core education of each student.

Pastor Jacobsen has a small class enrolling for the 5th-8th grade classroom. We have a capacity of 15, and there is still some room left. These grades will extend our studies in the Building Christian English series and the Saxon Math series. In math, our seventh-graders will take pre-algebra, and the eighth-graders will take algebra 1. We will also continue our Classical Composition series on the progymnasmata exercises for teaching rhetorical skills. These were developed and used from classical antiquity (think Aristotle) through the middle ages. New courses are included in computer-based practical logic for 5th and 6th graders, and traditional logic for 7th and 8th graders. We take Bible history up a notch in the 5th and 6th grades, culminating in a Christian catechesis course for the 7th and 8th grade. The historical period under study in world history and literature runs from 1600 through 1850, including a good deal of American history. Of course, we will continue teaching the Latin language, using a natural immersion approach that can be carried on through high school into college. Knowledge of Latin has many every-day benefits for budding scholars, while also connecting them with the authors of western civilization back to the Roman republic. See the school web site for more information about the subjects included.

Families in The Dalles and the central Columbia Gorge region have a classical alternative for these middle-school grades at Columbia, where students will experience a lot of individual attention, and enjoy vigorous academic and personal growth. We will continue to have chapel devotions daily, with a longer service on Wednesdays. But the Word of God is in the foundation of the entire program, which makes an important difference from the secular, public school alternatives. There, religious teaching is intentionally excluded, especially Christian teaching. At Columbia, a rational appreciation for the Christian faith, and a love for learning in that context is the reason we exist.

The regular school year at Columbia will begin on Monday, August 22. Along with the Running Start for Reading, students experience a school year that approaches the full-year schedule some have advocated. Less time off during the summer allows longer breaks during the school year, and reduces the loss of knowledge and academic habits that many students have experienced.

With Pastor Jacobsen as a full-time teacher and principal, we look forward to a great school year for our K-8 students and their families. In the meantime, the Bethany and Concordia congregations are continuing the process to fill their pastoral vacancy. At this time, Pastor Matthew Brooks of Parkersburg, Iowa holds the call, and we pray for him as he considers whether he will accept it and move here, or return it and continue serving in the midwest.

Thanks be to God for His gracious providence! May He continue to sustain this important ministry and outreach of His Church.

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What Happened to the Signers of the Declaration of Independence?

Here’s a brief run-down about the later lives of some of those who made this courageous step.

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New Photos in Our Virtual Tour

We’ve doubled the number of photos, updating the virtual tour on the Columbia web site. Why now? Well, the upper grades classroom is just about finished, and ready for students in August. If you know a family with a 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grader, let them know, so they can check us out. The virtual tour is a good place to start.

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