May 26, 2021 | Good Soil

Influencers: Good Soil (4)

by Will Goodwin

Not too long ago, I asked my seventh grade students why we study History. I gave them a few minutes to write an answer down in their notebooks. Most of them, only taking about one minute to think the question through, said something like, “It’s important to know History in case you become a teacher” — “It’s important to know History in case someone asks you some facts about it” — “It’s important to to know History so we can learn about the past, which might help us in the future.”

I posed this question to my students before we began reading some rather dense historical works: Plutarch’s Lives and Herodotus’s The Histories. These works follow various kings and their rise to (and inevitable fall from) glory. The works are old, foreign, sometimes confusing, never not violent, and always enchanting. Without fail, these books actually change the way students think about History and themselves forever. That may be a bit dramatic, but I have some proof of the sentiment.

At the end of our reading, I once again ask the students why we study History. In fact, this is their final assessment for these books. The marvelous thing is that students do not give their initial gut reactions as they did before; they stumble and fumble with their hearts and minds as they consider the nature and purpose of History and our reading of it. They have come to realize that History is so complicated and weighty and enchanting that they cannot articulate a succinct and sufficient enough answer. They have come to realize that they were silly in their initial answers, that History is multi-faceted and that it takes serious consideration to see the reason for study and what it offers.

Some students bring their new insights to these final essays. One student said that “History is the study of God’s plan for the world; it shows His story. We do not study history; we are His story.”

The most exciting thing that the student displayed was the beginning of a true perspective of, not simply History, but Reality itself. This student was looking beyond herself and her own benefit when thinking about History and was starting to see herself as a part of the narrative of redemption that God is unfolding in the world.

 This larger-than-self perspective is one of the goals of my classes and the goal of Classical Christian Schools in general. Because our aim goes beyond a mere good performance on a test or on that surprise appearance on JEOPARDY!, the outcome is decidedly different. It is no wonder then that the Good Soil Report indicates that ACCS students become what should be considered a true Influencer: one who is willing to help in their communities and speak up against injustice, all while seeing themselves in submission to God’s redemptive plan for the world.