Monday, September 5, 2016

Hausvater Project: The Father as Mentor to His Sons – Ten Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion

Hausvater Project
As many readers may be aware, I have been a long-time advocate of Classical Education. Indeed, several essays and innumerable comments on these pages broach the topic of Education in a way that (a) identifies the errors of today's post-Modern learning theories (like Social Constructivism), as I was trained in them at one of the nation's top ten Colleges of Education (according to the NEA) back in the 1990's; (b) differentiates them from the errors of Progressive pedagogies that were introduced by John Dewey and which dominated most of the 20th Century; and (c) as an alternative, promotes the ideologies and methods of The Great Tradition – an ideology of education which is:
    –– an ancient form of learning that develops within a student the Artes Liberalis, or the arts of the free man, and, seating him before the greatest figures produced by Western Civilization where he imbibes their accomplishments in their own idiom, equips him intellectually with the creative genius by which many of history's most difficult problems were solved and the greatest advances achieved;
    –– a form of learning which was rediscovered during the time of the Renaissance, and was systematized by Luther, Melanchthon, Sturm and others, as the general system of education for the German people, in order that the Reformation – a doctrinal reformation – would continue, and which was eventually adopted everywhere in Europe and in early colonial America;
    –– and the form of education by which Western Civilization had been passed on to successive generations, to which each generation added its own accomplishments, and by which Western Civilization advanced.
The Great Tradition, known today as Classical Education, was the system of education that was crushed by the Educational Revolution of John Dewey, the utopian Industrialists who financed him desiring instead a labor pool of workers that were trained (not necessarily educated) in the Artes Servilis, or the arts of the slave. Those essays can be found by following the link, Classical Education, which is also a search label for this blog.

Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education
Many readers will also be aware of the fact that I have been an enthusiastic advocate of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education (CCLE). Having been a member of this organization for nearly ten years, and having attended its annual Conferences nearly every year, I remain convinced that the true brain-trust in Lutheran education is to be found among them. I know of nowhere else where a genuinely Lutheran ideology of education, that isn't mashed up and ruined with post-Modern drivel, is even attempted, nor of any truly compelling source of Lutheran educational ideology today, outside of the work of this organization, outside of the truly exciting rediscovery of The Great Tradition and efforts to reimplement it, in which the CCLE is engaged.

What many readers may not know is that, as parents of seven children, my wife and I have been committed Home Educators for well over a decade. My wife herself a graduate of home school, we were in agreement even before marriage – even while I was a graduate student studying Education at a public university – that we would educate our children in the home, and, already having adopted it in theory, that we would follow the ideology of Classical Education. Our life together from the beginning had this objective in view. Thus today, in addition to being a full time homemaker and wife, between the two of us Elizabeth being the true intellect, she is also Head Mistress of our “home-based educational program” (as we are obliged to refer to it in the State of Wisconsin), and lives the life she had dreamed of as a girl, and for which she prepared herself in college.
One Sunday after Church - a recent photo
Sunday after Church
A Recent Photo
Her full time vocations as mother, wife and educator, being altogether as prodigious as they are (especially with seven children), we have very selectively sought supplemental assistance in the latter of these, especially for our older children whose subjects grow more demanding with each passing year.

We have been very pleased with the educational services of Wittenberg Academy, in this regard. This online school was started by Justin and Jocelyn Benson several years ago as an overtly Lutheran source of Classical Education, and today, after several years of hard work, they can boast (although I think they may be too humble to boast...) of having a highly qualified staff of teachers delivering an impressive array of course offerings, to those desiring supplemental coursework for their children (whether Home Educators like us, or otherwise), as well as to those who've enrolled their children in Wittenberg's fulltime high school degree program.

Even though I had been acquainted with the Bensons through our mutual association with the CCLE over the years, and with our children's involvement in Wittenberg Academy, I was still rather surprised to be asked by them to lead a discussion group last April, at their first annual Wittenberg Academy Family Retreat. We had been registered for some time already, were planning to attend, and were looking forward to taking in Dr. Ryan MacPherson's three-part presentation on Vocation, entitled Discovering Your Vocations in the Family, Church, and Society. We had met Dr. MacPherson and his wife several years ago, and though having only infrequently corresponded with him via email since then, we have always been interested in his work, and eager to read and hear what he has to say. A Professor of American History at Bethany Lutheran College, Dr. MacPherson is also President of the Hausvater Project – an organization that "seeks to equip Christian men and women for distinctive and complementary vocations in family, church, and society, by fostering research and education in light of Holy Scripture as proclaimed by the Lutheran Confessions." It was under the auspices of the Hausvater Project that he delivered the plenary sessions at the Family Retreat.

Wittenberg Academy
Seal of the Wittenberg Academy
What was requested of me, however, was that I compose a list of ten questions concerning the vocation of fatherhood and the unique challenges faced by concientious Christian fathers in our own post-Modern era, along with a bullet-pointed summary of an approximately 15 minute introduction that would preceed the 45 minute discussion that I would lead and moderate. The questions, along with the bullet-pointed summary, was to fit on a single sheet of paper, and would be handed out to those in attendance (and I made sure that only one single sheet was necessary, as long as the printer was capable of half-inch margins and could print on both sides of the paper!). In addition to the obvious challenges of rearing sons and preparing them for a lifetime of Christian adulthood (of holding on to their faith in a world that desperately seeks to rob them of it; of avoiding the pitfalls of sexual immorality and of seeking, instead, his own "lifelong helpmeet"; etc.), the specific context of the issues addressed in these questions was that of family entrepreneurialism and of re-introducing the father's role as mentor in this regard – which I interpreted as the role of equipping his sons with a trade, of training them for a life of entrepreneurialism, and modeling for them Christian business practices. In addition to the handout, I composed an approximately eight-page essay as background to those questions focusing on marraige and entrepreneurialism, invoking Natural Law to establish the relationship of the Natural Family to Property Ownership and entrepreneurialism, its importance to the continuance of political Liberty and American Society, and the vital role of a Liberal Arts education to this end. Far too long to read in only 15 minutes, I read only excerpts before proceeding to the discussion. Afterwards, Dr. MacPherson asked if he might have a copy of the essay to go along with the handout, consolidate them, and publish the result on the website of the Hausvater Project. Somewhat flattered, I obliged; and in July he posted his adaptation of those two works on the Hausvater Project, under the title, The Father as Mentor to His Sons: 10 Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion. I think Dr. MacPherson did a fine job of consolidating the handout and the essay, into the single concise article he produced for the Hausvater Project; and given that today is Labor Day here in the United States, and that the thoughts expressed in that brief work closely pertain to the Vocation of Fatherhood, and address the post-Modern challenges faced by today's Christian fathers, I thought it would be appropriate to preface it here on Intrepid Lutherans, and share a link to the article that he posted. For those interested in reading it, I also include, below, the Topic Headings he gave to each question:

The Father as Mentor to His Sons: 10 Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion
by Douglas Lindee
  1. Fatherhood and Society
  2. The Priority of Mentoring
  3. Home Catechesis
  4. Roles of Fathers and Mothers
  5. Modeling a Christian Marriage
  6. Recognizing Genuine Beauty
  7. Industriousness
  8. Diligence
  9. Entrepreneurship
  10. Generosity

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