Or, The Virtues of Acting Like a Raggant
A graduate is one who has taken a certain number of steps. “Graduate” is rooted in the Latin word gradus which means “degree” or “step.” English also takes the word “gradual” from gradus, a reference to something that proceeds by, or is arranged by, degrees. Amounts add up. Levels build up. Steps are taken even if the pace is slow.
What steps do our students need to take in order to be ECS Graduates? What degree of accomplishment is required before they move the tassel from one side of the graduation cap to the other?
Our society has created graduation requirements. In order to be recognized by the government (and be admitted into government approved colleges) a certain number of subjects must be studied for a certain number of hours with a certain degree of proficiency as proven on certain standardized tests. A graduate passes if he has spent enough hours in a chair, has enough classes on his transcript, and has earned enough points above the failing line.
Those benchmarks are fine to consider, but ECS exists for more than (though not less than) academics, or even excelling at academic achievements.
The ECS School Board recently had a discussion about “other” graduation requirements, the steps we want our graduates to have taken as persons not just as students. We understand that it is a process, and that the school is only one contributor, but we’re concerned to identify if progress has been made. This evaluation is important for the student and for the school.
As the Board talked, we considered asking other schools if they use any similar diagnostic tool. We also agreed that we should know what we want. We should know and communicate and work toward and evaluate against the bullseye for our arrows (see this talk by Mr. Sarr on Psalm 127 about Raising Arrows). So here are six descriptions we desire for all of our graduating raggants.
1. STOUT Image-bearers
We want graduates who are strong—not anemic, who are thick—not flat. Stout men have a kind of heaviness due to having gravity not due to being flabby. A stout raggant will be determined, unbending.
A lion is stout. A kitten after a bath is not. We want people in the community to remember running into a raggant, and not just because his or her uniform is cute.
In order to become stout, a raggant must believe that he is made in the image of a happy, sovereign, good Creator. He will meditate on the law of the Lord and be steadfast and fruitful like a tree planted by streams of living water. He will know who he is and stand where he should because he knows where God stands.
2. GENEROUS Disciples of Christ
We want graduates who are ready to give more than is necessary or expected. They will give what they have like a farmer gives his seed to the ground. They will lavish gifts of time, kindness, and knowledge. They will give themselves, their bodies as living sacrifices.
Life is a weapon, an investment to be used up rather than hoarded. We will watch our graduates serve their family and other students, especially those that need to be served but don’t deserve it. They will be like Jesus and embody the evangel, the good news that death brings life. They will make it look like it is more blessed to give than to receive, let alone to take.
3. COPIOUS Producers
The Latin word copia means “plenty” (so a cornucopia is a horn of plenty). We want graduates with a broad field of knowledge and baskets full of fruitfulness.
This is why the Trivium is so important. All the grammar jingles and history cards and phonograms and spelling tests, even the algebra proofs and Omnibus primary texts, fertilize the soil of our students’ minds with nutrients so that those minds are ready to produce. They will have acquired skills to read quickly, weed the weeds of weak or false arguments, and then use cursive or keyboard (or microphone) to make their point. They will build worldview, not buy the world’s view.
4. PRODIGIOUS Learners
We want graduates with large and fruitful fields who also aren’t afraid to go into different fields. They will have learned so much and so well, not so that they have nothing else to learn, but so that they are excited and able for whatever else they want to learn the rest of their lives. There are a lot of thumb’s-widths in the world that Jesus cares about. Our graduates should be able to do more than search google.com.
Many fields could use Kuyperian Christians: the medical field, the scientific field, the legal field, the political field, the artistic field, and many business fields.
5. THANKFUL Stewards
We want raggant graduates who translate everything into the language of gift. They will “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). They will “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20). They will be the anti-fussers.
They will recognize the investment of their parents and of those throughout (church) history. They will thank God for the tall shoulders they stand on.
They will also thank God for the stewardship to following generations, including their own kids, as the Lord wills. They will not despise their blessings or devour them.
6. JOVIAL Warriors
We want graduates who will work hard because they know how, because they know what needs to be done, because they know what the stakes are against the serpent, and who laugh and sing while doing battle. They will wear our school motto loudly:
Laughter is war.
They will fight without freaking out. They will stand up for truth, goodness, and beauty but without being shrill. They will live under the influence of the redeemed Jupiter/Jove who is sunny, joyful, and rejoicing always.
So, our graduates should be able to recognize that ECS helped to increase the degree of their being: