Headmaster Blog for October 28, 2013: Fun at Recess

“Dea-oh Lode, Pwease help us to have FUN at wecess today. Amen!”
Delanie in Kindergarten at Summit

At the close of every Assembly at Summit I ask one of the students to open our day in prayer. All of the hands go up—children love to pray—and I select the prayer of the day. My favorites are the Kindergartners! So, several days ago adorable, soft-spoken Delanie wanted to pray. With all the sincerity she could muster, Delanie took a deep breath and cut right to the chase; “I need to have fun at play today, and I need all the help I can get!”

One of the laws in John Milton Gregory’s classic, The Seven Laws of Teaching, is the law of the language. The law states that the teacher must share and communicate in the same language as the learner. For some time I have been convinced that the primary learning language of a grammar school student is a four-letter word: PLAY.

I never cease to be amazed at responses I get from students when I ask, “What is your favorite subject?” Invariably the answer will be “recess!!” “Why,” I ask. “Because we get to play,” they respond. Play is not a frivolous thing for a child. Our good God has hardwired these children to grow, learn and thrive at play.

Thankfully, the Classical model of education is very sympathetic and supportive of a child’s need to play. Yes, we emphasize the importance of learning a wide range of subjects—from Latin to math and science to the liberal and fine arts—but Classical education is also devoted to “teaching with the grain,” as Dorothy Sayers famously said. We seek to employ the natural bent of the child in the teaching/learning process, and not work against it. For a grammar school student that means that the learning process must be infused with the component of fun.

In the course of a day at Summit I will occasionally warn the students to “not have any fun!” Of course they laugh knowing that I really mean the opposite; even in that exchange we are having fun. Truth is, we work hard at Summit, students, faculty and staff alike. Having said that, the right kind of work will never be absent of that measure of enjoyment and fun. The old English proverb is so true, “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy”

Hmmm. Even as I write this I wonder if all of us might profit from a greater measure of genuine fun in our lives (I’m not talking about mere entertainment which is often more of a diversion than a restorative). When criticized by a huffy fellow-prof at Oxford for writing mere children’s stories (The Chronicles of Narnia), C.S. Lewis responded with a parody of 1 Cor. 13:11, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including a fear of child-likeness and the desire to be very ‘grown up.’” Lewis wrote these stories for the sheer fun of it, and this begs the question: what does it actually mean for us to have real fun? If fun is such an important component in the learning language of our children, perhaps it would be good for us—and for them—to revisit it for ourselves? When was the last time you had a “weal wecess?”

God bless you all,
Dr. Timothy Orton

Summit Bulletin Board

  • The last day of the First Quarter is October 31. There will be sign-up sheets available for your teacher conferences on November 1.
  • If you are one, or if you know of qualified, certified teachers who might be interested in a faculty position at Summit (full-time Fourth Grade or Substitute, Seventh Grade next year), please refer to either Dr. Orton (headmaster@summitclassical.org) or Michelle Olson (humanresources@summitclassical.org).
  • Karen Schmit is in charge of our Box Tops for Education program. Please contact her for information on how to participate.
  • Please note that Summit does not involve itself in Halloween festivities. Students should not wear costumes, nor should candy or other gift be exchanged as an observation of the day.
  • Please pray for: 1. God’s hand of protection over our school; 2. God’s wisdom for those who are leading and teaching; 3. God’s provision for the needs of our school (esp. a well-qualified Fourth Grade teacher).
  • If you are interested in helping with the Summit Christmas Program please contact the Summit office, corinnesaenz@summitclassical.org.
  • Summit is still in need of Recess and PE volunteers.
  • Summit has a position open for Bookkeeper. If you know of a qualified candidate please contact Michelle Olson at humanresources@summitclassical.org.
Headmaster Blog for October 28, 2013: Fun at Recess