February 5, 2024 | Twigs for the Nest

“Everything We Make Has Meaning!”: Embracing and Equipping Our Students in their Quest for Meaning

by Liz Voboril

One day last January, a first grader brought home several completed art projects. After dinner, as she shared her medieval castle model with her mom, she commented, “I love my school because everything we make has meaning!” 

It’s a rare first grader whose art project commentary touches on ‘meaningfulness,’ but the longing for meaning is evident as early as the “why?” questions asked by our toddlers. Despair over its absence goes as far back in human history as Ecclesiastes: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Eccles 1:2, NIV)

PCS embraces our students’ quest for meaning and looks to equip them to seek it wisely. “We put a lot of thought into what we do and why we do it,” shares Katharine Savage, Head of School. “We sometimes use the metaphor of a banquet to describe the kind of education we offer. We take care to put out time-tested, delicious, nourishing foods, and make sure they’re prepared in ways that even our youngest students can enjoy them. We’re strategizing in the ‘kitchen’ long before the table is set each morning.”

 One simple (and joyful!) way PCS trains students to find meaning in their lessons is through transitioning from subject to subject with a question or song. Katharine explains, “We’re not only narrating a transition, we’re trying to help students see the larger frame: What are doing when we do science? We’re not just trying to prepare you for the next test, we’re looking to marvel at how our creator God made the universe. And what are we doing when we read literature? We’re learning more about how to live wisely and well as a human. The teachers often write these themselves, and they are a simple way we remind ourselves and our students how what we study connects to the good, the true, and the beautiful.”

Here are a few examples:

  • Kindergarten, Morning Meeting. After singing “This is the Day” together, the class recites the morning prayer:

Father, we thank thee for the night
and for the pleasant morning light
for rest and food and loving care
and all that makes the day so fair.
help us do the things we should
to be to others kind and good.
In all we do, in all we say, to grow more loving every day.

  • 6th Grade, History

All sing: This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heav’n be one.
Teacher: Why do we study history?
Class: We study history as the record of God’s providential dealings with humanity.

  • 3rd Grade, Literature

All sing: Tell Me the Story of Jesus, write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.
Teacher: Why do we study literature?
Class: We become what we behold. As we savor beautiful language, we can grow in understanding God, ourselves, other people, and Creation, while learning our place in the true Big Story God has authored.

Over the months ahead, we’ll be highlighting different items at the PCS banquet and sharing some of the “why” behind them. Meanwhile…here’s to navigating the “why’s” of life with meaning and substance!