During teacher in-service this year, Andrew Kern of The Circe Institute would call us to order with the following phrase: “All things be ready…if our minds be so.” He was catching our attention and refocusing our minds to the task at hand.
Order is a beautiful thing; without it, chaos abounds.
The human mind is unfathomable to me. We sense millions of “data” everyday, and yet our minds ﬁnd some way of organizing and ordering all that we take in through our senses. I’d never really thought about “the way” our brains do this until recently when Mr. Kern was speaking of analogies: comparing and contrasting. The way we process and “order” our thoughts is through comparison.
How does our brain immediately know which song is on the radio after the ﬁrst couple of notes? How can we even recognize if we know the song or not? How can we pick out a tune even if the words allude us? How can we recognize so many diﬀerent voices? How can we understand the diﬀerence between our child’s “mad” and “hurt” cries?
I bring up auditory processing, but it could just as easily be any other sense. How is it that certain smells trigger certain memories? How does a child know the diﬀerence between a favorite blanket and one that appears to be just like it in the dark? Why do we like one person’s cooking over another’s? And why do we prefer one photo over another taken at the same time?
We learn, process, and order all these things by constantly comparing. We distinguish what things are similar, what things are identical, and what things are dissimilar. When our thoughts jump from one topic to another, there is an order woven throughout those thoughts. Haven’t we all at some point followed our thought process back to where we got “oﬀ topic” and were able to pinpoint what thought triggered another train of thought? We were able to follow our own thought process because we were able to identify which things were similar (or dissimilar). And remarkably enough, this is just something that our brains do naturally.
So, what does this have to do with Pre-K? Everything! We organize and order our classrooms to be places where learning can most naturally occur. We attempt to cut out the chaos of distractions so that our minds (and hearts) can order what is being taught through analogies. We compare minds and hearts that know the Lord to those that don’t; we make the distinction that we know we are loved and created, but some people don’t know these things. We learn to write letters by comparing them to known things. We process numbers through constantly comparing (three is not two, etc.) or “playing” with quantities of items. We look for patterns by ﬁnding what is identical, similar, and dissimilar. We learn what behavior is appropriate to which setting by comparison: chapel is not recess, but both happen at school.
We begin with what we know and can sense. We make comparisons and create order. After mastery has been shown in an area, we take what is already known and compare it to that which is unknown. A classical Christian education teaches that subjects are not disjointed, random, or chaotic; we believe all subjects are interconnected and ordered through the light of Christ.
“All things be ready…if our minds be so.” One thing leads to the next, and ultimately all things point to Our Creator: God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in us all.