Recently, the fourth graders at Covenant Christian Academy visited the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah.
In fourth grade at CCA, students study the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. One topic they go in-depth with is cathedrals of Europe, and this cathedral is a great example of Gothic architecture.
As many teachers can attest, field trips can be sort of mundane. Often, certain grade levels visit the same sights over and over. Understandably, teachers can get into the habit of thinking they have been there and done that – there’s nothing new for adults to learn on these outings.
Since I’ve been involved with classical, Christian education, I have learned that field trips (and many other things about education) are pleasantly different.
As I stood amongst the beauty that is the Cathedral, I watched as my fourth graders took ownership of this majestic treasure. (Of course, I knew for a week that they were excited about the trip.) I learned that their excitement wasn’t just a result of being away from school. Their excitement was due to their “knowing” the architecture, working together to read the Latin inscriptions on the altars, drawing on their study of the history of the Roman Catholic Church and hearing their expressions of awe while gazing upon the coat of arms of Pope John Paul and recognizing the Celtic knot in the font.
Then there were the stained glass windows. They went from window to window, excited to see the same depictions as the drawings they created in their history class. The great rose window was also a highlight for them. They held meaningful conversations with the tour guide on a variety of subjects such as pondering the French influence as shown in the interior columns, recognizing the cathedral (Latin for “chair”) where only the bishop sits, discussing the construction of the buttresses, pointed arches, etc.
As we were preparing to leave, the tour guide called me over and shared some information that took me by surprise. She thanked me for bringing the fourth graders and told me how much their visit had meant to her. (I thought, wait a minute, isn’t this what I should be saying to you for your hospitality?)
She went on to say that it is rare when students come to visit with the background knowledge to appreciate and recognize what they are seeing, resulting in genuine excitement. She laughed, and said the students knew more about the information she shares daily than most adults that come through the Cathedral. It struck me that it was the “conversation” that the students were able to engage in that made an impression on her. I, too, thanked her for giving me a renewed perspective about classical, Christian education.
Sometimes when you’re so closely involved with a style of education you may sometimes think, “Is this really distinctive, worth the effort, or making a positive difference in student lives?” I am thankful for times when we go outside the school and the reactions of knowledgeable adults confirms that yes, it is all very worthwhile. It impacts students in ways that are rare and refreshing.
After the field trip, I was also asked what I learned at the Cathedral. My response was “I learned that Classical, Christian education serves students well and I’m thankful for it.” Teachers can always learn something new on a field trip.
Covenant Christian Academy is a classical, Christian academy offering pre-K through ninth grade for 2008-2009. The school is located on the campus of Life Baptist Church, located on Highway 21, just four miles north of Rincon. Their next open house will be on Feb. 26 at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. The school Web site is www.ccaeffingham.com and phone is 754-1511.
Submitted by Angie Wilkins
Covenant Christian Academy