5 Quick Things #274 🌱
demons, suffragists, illiterate saints, & no rational explanation
I've got a digital pile of short story drafts written by high schoolers to read, I've got grades to record, and I've got tying-up-loose-end emails to send... This can only mean one thing: it's almost Spring Break! I can hardly believe it, but yesterday was our last in-person school day before a two-week break, which is wild because it feels like we were just on break for the holidays. It's been a rough and wild school session, moreso than usual, so I'm very, very glad for this break and feel my need for it big time.
We'll be traveling a lot this summer so we're staying local these next few weeks — Tate's going on her senior trip, but otherwise she'll be working a lot, as will Kyle and I. Along with writing catch-up, I hope to get my seedlings in the ground, rework our raised bed watering system, and do whatever I can to enjoy the springtime before the summer heat kicks in far too soon. Our newest chicks are also growing like weeds, which means they'll need to be moved outdoors with the big girls before we know it.
In other words: life is full and busy but good around here, and that's as it should be. I hope things are alright for you, readers. I'm glad you're here.
5 Quick Things ☕️
1. 📻 New episode of A Drink With a Friend! 📻 C.S. Lewis wrote a newspaper column as a series of letters from a demon writing to his nephew training for his role as …well, a demon. Screwtape advises Wormwood how to best attack his “patient” — an unassuming young man — and his tactics aren’t what we’d expect. I share with Seth why I love this book so much, why it’s still relevant (perhaps more?) today than it was when it was first published during the height of World War II, and why all of us need to read it.
2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — my friend Claire says the quiet part out loud: “I fling the doors wide open. I walk outside, banging my pot with a wooden spoon, calling in the chickadees. I’m here for everyone, which is why I believe everyone has a right to be born and a right to a natural death. I’m here for everyone, which is why I believe the path to joy is through Jesus but also acknowledge your autonomy and freedom and wish you will if you choose a different one.”
4. My friend Shawn embodies the name of his newsletter well, and this short piece explains why: “At the end of the day, if this life of ours that we’ve cobbled together is nothing else, it is a life of trusting God.”
5. And finally, Places of Poetry maps — you guessed it — places of poetry, specifically from around the U.K. A fun little diversion.
Currently Reading, Watching, Listening 📚
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (on audiobook — I just finished it this morning, and this masterpiece is so well-narrated…)
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“If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”2
— John Irving #
The Classic Learning Test 🏛
In 2015, Jeremy Tate was working as an evening high school English teacher when he realized that transcendent, moral, and ethical ideas had been gutted from the classroom. How had American education become so utilitarian? David Coleman, CEO of the College Board, has stated publicly that “teachers will teach towards the test. There is no force on this earth strong enough to prevent that.” Tate came to the conclusion that high-stakes testing was partially to blame. And high-stakes testing drives secondary school curriculum.
The Classic Learning Test (CLT) was created to radically change all this. If teaching to the test is an inescapable reality, then shouldn’t the most important test engage students with some of the most important ideas, texts, and subjects? CLT exams assess English, grammar, and mathematical skills while engaging students with intellectually rich and meaningful content.
Over 200 colleges now accept the CLT as an entrance exam and that number is steadily growing. My own daughter is going to her first-choice college this fall, in no small part thanks to her CLT scores (more on that in last week’s letter).
The CLT is offering all my newsletter readers 25% off any test registration with the code COMMONPLACE. They currently provide placement exams and assessments for grades 7 and up (with grades 3-6 coming soon!). Homeschool, private, and public school students: all are welcome to take the CLT.
What’s Your Book Type Preference? 📚
Like many of you, I presume, I’m a connoisseur of all these types — but in the past few years I’ve grown in my affection for hardbacks. There’s something about the idea of future generations inheriting shelves of them that makes me smile.
Find this week’s poll here.
Quick Links 🔗
Question(s) For You to Ponder… 🤔
What’s a book that changed your perspective? How?
Have a good one,
HT to Shawn, who I think of whenever I glance at Owen Meany on my shelf.