TRIVIUM SCRIPTA TRIVIUM SCHOOL
ANNO R ESPICIENTE
THE “LOST TOOLS” AT T RIVIUM
Dr. William Schmitt In many ways, this past school year was the most exciting year in my Trivium career. We have achieved a truly remarkable goal! The School has completed its transition to an independent selfsupporting school–and has not lost its identity or sacrificed one iota of its original vision. Trivium School continues to carry on the work of authentic Catholic classical education. This could not and did not happen without the unambiguous support of the Trivium community. When we announced our fund-raising goal last November, we hoped we could accomplish it within the year. I don’t think any of us at the School thought we could do it four months ahead of schedule! $50,000.00 is a sizable amount of money. The generosity of you, Trivium friends and community, has once again prevailed and surpassed even this goal. How was it achieved? Here is a breakdown: Mailing campaign Trivium Auction Individual larger gifts
$17,096.00 $20,302.00 $14,500.00
As we await the results of the upcoming “perc test” to see whether our proposed building site is suitable, the board continues to make more specific plans for the Arts and Athletics Building. The momentum continues to build (Continued on page 4.)
CONTENTS Anno Respiciente
The “Lost Tools” at Trivium
Remembering the Overworld
The Adventure of Sanctity
Cyrano de Bergerac!
Auction—A Great Success
Last year, in preparation for my American History course, I went to a conference at Regis College for Advanced Placement history teachers. The speaker, Luther Spoehr, handed us copies of an article that he had co-authored with his wife, a cognitive psychologist from Brown. The article was called “Learning to Think Historically,” and what was surprising to me was that he substantially set forth the same points that Dorothy Sayers develops in “The Lost Tools of Learning,” which in many ways is the blueprint of Trivium School. Luther Spoehr writes, “History is the spinach of the liberal arts: It may be good for you but it is not fun . . . Focusing exclusively on facts is what makes history study so deadly dull for so many students in so many schools: students get the idea that history is just one d*** thing after another, and that their job is to memorize as many facts as possible, preferably in chronological order.” Spoehr continues, “Facts do not speak for themselves . . . it is the historian’s job to ask the right questions, to draw appropriate inferences, to make careful judgments . . . and to arrive at considered conclusions about what it all means . . . Thinking historically, in other words, does not call for accumulation, but discrimination and informed judgment.” Spoehr’s distinction between facts and judgment, (he calls them “pieces of information” and “conceptual relations”) are a fundamental part of all “skilled thinking.” Dorothy Sayers would say, the grammar of history is the facts, the logic is the way these facts go together. The emphasis in history class, if the teacher wants to teach the “tools of learning,” is to show the students that all the names and dates serve to understand people and events. As I taught history this year, this was constantly on my mind. When I mentioned the (Continued on page 4.)
R EMEMBERING THE O VERWORLD Dr. William Kilpatrick Dr. William Kilpatrick, Professor of Education at Boston College, delivered the commemcement address. Dr. Kilpatrick is the author of Psychological Seduction and Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong. He has made frequent televised appearances and is working on a new book.
Dr. William Kilpatrick speaks at the Trivium Commenncement, 2001.
Thank you for that nice introduction and thank you for inviting me to speak here at the Trivium. It’s a great honor, because the Trivium is a great school. I want to begin by offering my congratulation to the members of the graduating class, and to their teachers and to their parents—all of whom have worked so hard to achieve this success. I’m sure that a lot of effort and a lot of sacrifices have gone into making this day a reality. Now, when I asked Dr. Schmitt what I should talk about, he said talk about twenty minutes. So as you can see he left the choice of topic pretty much up to me. Usually, when I’m invited to give a talk, I talk about the topic of character education— because its my specialty. But it seems to me that a talk about character is unnecessary for this audience. If you’ve been through four years at Trivium you’ve already had an education in character. Trivium has always had this reputation for graduating young men and women of character. And before I had ever visited the school I was well aware of this reputation. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I was first invited to a Christmas party at Trivium about eighteen years ago, to find many of these fine young men of character smoking cigars and drinking brandy. Well, perhaps it wasn’t brandy they were drinking—that may have been just my imagination—but they were certainly smoking cigars. Now to my topic. I think the general idea
of a commencement address is to say something that may be useful for your life. And one of the most useful things in life, I’ve found, is to be able to view life as a story. Let me give you an example of how useful. The mother of a ten-year-old boy once told me this story: her son had been diagnosed with cancer and he faced a series of painful treatments. At first his spirits and his determination had been high but as the treatments wore on his spirit wore down to the point where his parents feared that he would give up the struggle—that he wouldn’t survive. Then one day he came across the story of “the labors of Hercules” in a book of myths that a relative had given him. And he read it and re read it and read it again . . . with the result that his fighting spirit and determination came back to him. And he recovered his health. As a result of reading the story he saw his own labors—his own struggles—in a different light. Somehow, in his mind, the story of his own struggles intersected with the struggles of Hercules, and were thus raised to an almost mythic level. So stories can give us the motivation and inspiration to get us through tough times and help us make sense of sickness and suffering. But I want to go further than that. I want to go beyond talking about the benefits of reading good stories. I want to talk about the importance of viewing your own life as a story. On the first page of Dicken’s David Copperfield young David wonders, “whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life. . .” This, it seems to me, is a natural—almost inbuilt—desire, a desire to be the hero of one’s own life. The other day I was re-reading one of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories in which the main character, a girl, daydreams about being a Christian thrown to the lions in the coliseum. Quite to the surprise of the Romans, all the lions lie down at her feet and lick her hand. Reading this triggered something in my mind, and I remembered that I used to have similar daydreams. But, of course, mine were the daydreams of a boy. My preference was to strangle the lions or rip their jaws apart. That would teach them to fool with Christians! The daydream didn’t always end there. Sometimes the emperor would be foolish enough to send a dozen armed gladiators after me to do what the lions couldn’t do. As a Christian I could not, of course, kill the gladiators. I merely disarmed them and knocked
them out. After that, the emperor decided it was best to let all the Christians go free. Once, as I recall, one of these daydreams ended in the conversion of the entire coliseum. (Now, I must confess that when I finally did get to visit the coliseum the only thing that happened was that I lost a lot of money to some very clever gypsy pickpockets.) Such were my childhood daydreams. As we grow older we tend to daydream less, but I’m not sure we ever get over wishing that our lives were more like stories and we, more like heroes or heroines. But as we mature, we come to realize that there are more ordinary kinds of heroism than fighting lions in the coliseum. Ordinary or everyday heroism is for the most part unsung and unrecorded, and it is unaccompanied by daring deeds and high adventure. Yet, though it is less glamorous than adventure heroism, it is in many ways more demanding, for it requires great courage, endurance, and ingenuity. An almost perfect example of everyday heroism is Frank Capra’s film It’s a Wonderful Life. The hero of the story, as you will remember, is George Bailey, an everyman who has lived his whole life in one small town, Bedford Falls, and whose dreams of escape and adventure have never been realized. Boyhood and adolescent dreams of travel and excitement are yielded up one by one as George’s sense of duty compels him to take up civic and family obligations. His reward for all this is a growing sense of burden and frustration. And when he is threatened with a scandal and the possibility of jail because of another’s mistake, his frustration slides into despair. The thing that saves him from despair and suicide is a visit from his guardian angel on Christmas eve. This may sound contrived to anyone who has not seen the film, but in fact, the angel’s appearance (as a lovable old man) is so skillfully rendered that it seems the next thing to normal. The angel’s task is to help George rediscover the meaning of his life. And he does this by allowing him to see what the world—particularly the world of Bedford Falls—would be like if he had never been born. What the angel allows George to see is what the viewer of the film has been witness to all along: that the life of George Bailey is a hero’s story. His heroism is the heroism of sustained commitment in the face of unlooked-for burdens and unforseen turns of fate. His heroism,
Dr. Kilpatrick addresses the class of 2001 as parents and friends look on from under the tent.
like that of most adults, consists in refusing the temptation to be free and uncommitted. His despair is the despair of a man who no longer understands the story he is in. What restores his morale and thus prevents him from doing a very immoral thing is the restoration of the narrative thread: the ability to see his life whole. When George is young he dreams of being a lone adventurer—a sort of Indiana Jones. As he matures, he realizes that his personal story is bound up with other people—his family, his friends, his community. And there is something else. George Bailey comes to realize that his personal story intersects with a much larger story—a heavenly story. He is rescued, after all, by an angel—even if only an angel, second class. So the story of George Bailey’s life is contained within a larger story. It’s one of the most interesting literary devices—the story within a story. The Arabian Nights, for example, is a collection of stories which is contained within the larger frame story of Scheherazade’s efforts to keep alive. Our own lives may also be looked upon as stories within a story. At least, that’s the way Christianity invites us to look at it. There is a grand story, a great drama of salvation to which we are called to join our personal stories. Within the frame of this celestial story our efforts to do the right thing do make sense and will be rewarded. Without this frame story our own stories always seem incomplete. When the story of our (Continued on page 6.)
(Anno Respiciente: continued from page 1.) for this important project. We would ask you to keep praying for the success of this project. Fund-Raising Campaign There is another new for the Arts and Athletics Building development: the formation of a group of Trivium supporters, The Headmaster’s Council. The Headmaster’s Council will 14,500 give counsel and financial support to the headmaster and allow the School to express its appreciation 17,096 for those who have been especially generous with their material support. The chairman, Joseph Lyons 20,302 (’88) plans to host the inaugural dinner in Virginia in September. Mr. Lyons explains, “Many of Trivium’s friends and Gifts Mailings Auction alumni here in the D.C. area will welcome enthusiastically a focused way to foster the good of the School. For those of us who are at a great distance from the School, it can be difficult to know just what the best way to help is. The Headmaster’s Council is the perfect solution.” (Joe Lyons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.) This new initiative allows our friends and alumni to gain solidarity with one another in expressing and finding ways to support Trivium School. The end of all this activity is the cultivation of our students’ intellects and imaginations: the process of assisting parents in transforming students into “carriers of Christian civilization.” This noble end certainly deserves support, and this past year demonstrated how united we are in achieving it. To see the School accomplish its end year after year is gratifying. To know that the School is not alone, but is bolstered and strengthened in its mission by so many friends is heartwarming.
(“Lost Tools” at Trivium: continued from page 1.) number of people who died in World War I, a student asked, “Is this going to be on the test?” My answer was, “No but I want you to see the magnitude of this war, and why people say that it left a scar on an entire generation.” When I put down my notes in order to describe the inauguration party of Andrew Jackson, the students put down their pencils for a breather, thinking, “Great, here’s an anecdote!” (The party got so rowdy with the smashing of china that someone had to shout, “There’s beer on the lawn!” and the crowd rushed for the doors.) The scene helped the students to see, above and beyond my dry description of Jackson’s election, what kind of man he was–and what kind of friends he had. The most difficult thing during the year was to direct the students towards the rhetoric of history. This is where all of the facts and events come together in a synthesis and the students are capable of expressing clearly in speech or writing their judgments. In one memorable class, perhaps the best of the year, I handed back essays on the Civil War. The question was something like, what were the causes of the Civil War? The grades were not good and the students in unison objected. Spurred on by two visitors in the class, students respectfully questioned my judgment of their papers. One explained that he had said that the Civil War was about maintaining the Union. Hadn’t Lincoln said that this was his “paramount” objective? And hadn’t, another student added, the Emancipation Proclamation freed no one and been signed two years after the War had begun? “Great,” I responded, “but the question was about causes–in the plural. Do you mean to say that slavery had nothing to do with it?” I think–I hope–that it dawned on them that I was not simply quibbling about the question but introducing them to a critical judgment that takes into account all the facts and events. I think that, with reflection, every tutor at Trivium, especially in the upper level classes, could explain how the “tools of learning” are developed in their classes. This is what is distinctive about true learning and it is what makes up the essence of a liberal education.
THE ADVENTURE OF S ANCTITY Andrew Koch, O.S.B. The following selections furnish some of the highlights of Father Andrew’s sermon at the Commencement Mass. In our Gospel this morning, we heard the words of our Lord to His apostles in the upper room: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” These words are particularly appropriate for our Mass today, a votive mass of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity whom the Son asks His Father to send, Whom we invoke to strengthen and support you at this important crossroad in your lives. The Lord bids His apostles peace, as He sends them off; where was He sending them? To evangelize the world, you say, and you speak rightly. But I think we can speak of this sending in other terms: Jesus sent off His disciples, as He now sends off the graduates, on an adventure, an adventure which we can call, in the words of Bernanos, the adventure of sanctity. That’s right, sanctity is an adventure. And we can speak more precisely if we listen to Blessed Josemaria Escriva, who tells us the Christian life is an adventure of love. The world speaks of freedom of choice; of being your own person. But behind this language is a philosophy which sees the individual as the ultimate arbiter of good and evil. The Church rather understands real freedom to mean making right choices, based on the Eternal Law, conforming us to the plan of divine wisdom, recognizing that we are persons made in the image and likeness of God, who are meant to become more like God with every choice we make. By your studies here at Trivium of ancient and Christian truths, in order to develop the intellectual and moral virtues, our prayer is that you can better recognize the Lord’s will in your lives, and so make the right choices in the true freedom of God’s love. In other words, we pray that your education here, through the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit, has made you more complete as human persons in whom the Father recognizes more clearly with your every action the divine Person of His beloved Son. This is the adventure of love: discovering how, at every moment of every day, we can be loving God: conquering sin and returning His infinite love. St
Thérèse of Lisieux teaches us with her “Little Way” that nothing is so small that it cannot be done out of love; as this great saint demonstrated, it is doing well the little things in life that prepares us for life’s great trials. While there is a popular misconception of the saint as a boring person, a study of Church history or the lives of the saints, or the experience of living deeply the life of grace, will convince you otherwise. What makes our lives as Catholics an adventure is the element of trust: we cannot see the one Whom we love, the one for Whom we live. To walk by faith means to take God’s hand and follow whereever He would take us. St Thérèse of Lisieux practiced for this as a young girl by walking with her eyes closed, holding the hand of her cousin Marie; this would have worked nicely, except that Marie decided to close her eyes, too, and they very soon knocked over a shopkeeper’s cart. God never closes His eyes; so long as we trust Him, we shall never falter with this surest of Guides. Invoking the Holy Spirit, as we do for our graduates now in this Holy Sacrifice, from the time of our Lord’s Ascension down the centuries to our own day, has always been the Church’s way to seek special counsel and strength.
Cyrano (Christof Chartier) responds to the challenge of the onlookers. 5
Senior Theses 2001 Christof Chartier Is physical labor necessary for man’s happiness? Stephanie Cormier Is ambition a virtue? Laura Doskocil Does substantial change occur? Marie Hennessy Must a Catholic assent to all the teachings of the Church? Alan Keeler Is fear good? David Keiselbach Was Socrates innocent? Daniel Knoell Can violent anger ever be justified? Julia O’Ryan Does God’s foreknowledge restrict human freedom? Dagny Syversen Should all men have a liberal education? Kati Towne Can moral principles change?
(Remembering the Overworld: continued from p. 3.) life is going well, it’s a wonderful thing, but even when it is we are never quite satisfied. We always yearn for something more—some larger connection. And how about those times when life is not going well? Life doesn’t always seem to have a nice sensible plot. And for some people, of course, the experience of life is more like a horror story—one bad thing after another. What about them? How can they make sense out of their life stories? We do need that larger story because it becomes very difficult to see any meaning in the humiliations, accidents, and sorrows we encounter without it. Now, I don’t mean to oversimplify this. I don’t want to suggest that its easy to discern the plot of our life or easy to tell what part God wants us to play. If life is a story it is in some respects like a mystery story. Although we should try as much as possible to shape our own life, the life we plan to lead is not always the life we do lead. The plans we make for ourselves are not always the same as the plan God has in mind for us. One of the reasons that life may sometimes seem like a mystery story is that life is mysterious. As the philosopher Gabriel Marcel observed, “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” The fact that Christianity is full of mysteries ought to suggest to us that life will be, too. But to say the events in a story or in a life are mysterious is not to say that they are random or senseless. Rather a mystery is something that has more meaning than we can comprehend. Or, at least, more than we can comprehend at this point in time. As with a mystery story there are some things we don’t understand until the final chapter. The other reason life has an element of mystery is that there is a difference between reading a story and living a story. The reader of a story is, in a sense, omniscient. He can see how the various plots in a story fit together. He can even jump ahead to see how the story turns out. But the characters in the story don’t see the whole picture. To a character in a story the events that befall him on page fifty-one may make no sense whatever, but we the readers, because we can see the several parts and strands of the story, can see that there is a sense to it. When it comes to our own life, however, we can’t see the whole picture . . .
It is the point of Christianity that we each do play an irreplaceable part in a cosmic drama, a story in which some of the strands only come together in eternity. In such a story, what you do counts infinitely. The next point I want to make is that it is possible, indeed quite easy, to forget all about the story of your life and about the larger story of which it is a part. There is an instructive example of this kind of memory loss in C.S. Lewis’s book The Silver Chair. In one scene in that story the beautiful but evil queen of the underworld nearly convinces the children from the overworld that her own rather dismal kingdom is the only reality, and their world nothing but an imagined dream. Her cunning use of words acts like a drug on their memory. The children feel vaguely that there is something of great importance they must remember. Indeed there is. They have been sent on a mission by Aslan, the great king of Narnia. But at the moment, all they can think of is the thrum-thrumthrum of the queen’s mandolin and her lulling voice: “The sun? There is no sun. You have seen my lamps and imagined that there was a sun.” That is her subtle yet convincing suggestion. Lewis takes up an ancient theme here: the importance—and the difficulty—of remembering. Odysseus, you will remember, has that problem. He’s supposed to be heading back to his homeland, to his wife and son. But everything conspires to make him forget. Again and again he and his men are put to the test of memory: first on the island of the lotus eaters where those who ate “the honeyed plant” longed “to stay forever . . . forgetful of their homeland;” next on Circe’s enchanted island where they lingered for a year; then before the sirens whose song “sings the mind away from children and from wife;” and last of all by the beautiful Calypso. Epics and fairy tales often involve journeys, and there is always something to be kept in mind while on the journey. Or else there are stories to be faithfully handed down—stories about the old times when the true kings ruled, the time before the usurpers. Unless the stories are told and retold, they will be forgotten. When that happens, the pretenders will have captured both body and mind. There will be only one version of history, one version of reality. In the Narnia tales—particularly in the story of Prince Caspian— we see great stress laid on this. The old stories,
the ancient rhymes and sayings, are treasured and assed down in good times and in bad. Especially in the bad times one needs every device to recall what was true because a new “truth” reigns, and it works to crowd out every competitor. Our own world is, in many respects, not unlike the mythic worlds created by Homer and by Lewis. The world wants you to forget your true inheritance, it wants you to forget the past, it wants you to forget your true destination. And it offers inducements to forget that are every bit as powerful and subtle as those that tempted Odysseus. For example, Odysseus and his men were tempted to eat the lotus plant and forget, and our world offers up a tempting variety of chemicals that act as a drug on our memory. Like the characters in the Odyssey, many in our society are tempted to forget their responsibilities in exchange for the momentary pleasures drugs provide. But drugs are an obvious source of temptation, and they’re illegal, as well. The most powerful sources of temptation are quite legal, widely accepted, and often quite respectable. The entertainment industry—television, movies, the music industry—provides one example. It very much wants us to forget the purpose of our lives. It want us to forget so it can sell us its own shallow stories. The popular media give off a persistent and seductive thrum—every bit as lulling as the thrum of the underworld queen’s mandolin. The more we tune in to that distracting sound, the more difficult it is to stay tuned to the things that really matter. Of course, this is not the only distraction the secular world provides. There is the thrum-thrum-thrum of the advertising industry, the thrum-thrum-thrum of the educational experts and psychological experts and child-raising experts; the thrum-thrum-thrum of the politicians, the thrum-thrum-thrum that emanates from the courts, from the medical profession, from the universities, from the news magazines, and from the arts. And let’s not forget that very strong and insistent thrumthrum-thrum that comes from what the social scientists call your peer group. In all these cases the seductive message is very nearly the same as that of the underworld queen in Lewis’s story: “There is no overworld. This is the only world. Learn to accommodate yourself to it, learn to enjoy it; you’ll find things will go much easier if you do.”
That’s the temptation, and you’ll need to fight against it all your life. Just remember that the story you are invited to participate in—the story of the world’s salvation—is far more exciting, far more charged with significance than any drama dreamed up by Hollywood scriptwriters. Now, a final point . . . Every year or every couple of years, re read The Silver Chair or Prince Caspian or watch It’s a Wonderful Life. They’re great memory boosters. And when you revisit them I’m sure that much of what I’ve said today will come flooding back to your mind. And finally, one last thing to remember, remember to thank your teachers and your parents and your grandparents today for helping you to get this far in your journey.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC! Trivium’s R Group Drama put on Edmund de Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac on June 1, 2001 at Hale School’s auditorium. Critics in the crowd acclaimed the production as one of Trivium’s finest. Christof Chartier played the dashing Cyrano and Laura Doskocil the inspiring Roxanne. The standing ovation as the curtain closed conveyed the enthusiasm of all who were graced to be present. Laura Doskocil as Roxanne and Christof Chartier as Cyrano.
TRIVIUM SCHOOL P.O. Box 597 S. Lancaster, MA 01561
First Day of School 8:20a.m., September 10
AUCTION—A GREAT SUCCESS Ann Turner The first Trivium School Auction, sponsored by the Friends of Trivium, was a huge success! Nearly 150 patrons, upon entering the Clinton Town Hall on May 12, were drawn toward the nicely decorated tables displaying over 200 items donated by local merchants as well as Trivium families and friends. In addition to the artful display of items donated, delicious and beautiful appetizers and deserts prepared by Nancy McGarry were served by Trivium students. Students provided music on cello, piano, and guitar, and a select choir sang. Moving from a classical to lighter vein, a trio consisting of a member of the board, Carl Schmitt, and two faculty members, David Muir and Mark Langley, regaled the audience with their rendition of “Fugue for Tin Horns” from Guys and Dolls. The live auction was charmingly and capably run by auctioneer James A. Leach. The bidding was friendly but nonetheless spirited. The evening’s program guide prepared by Leila
and Phil Lawler contained thirty-two ads from local merchants, listed descriptions of the fortytwo items, and made the event easy to follow. Margaret and John Hannon handled the checkout process, putting a smooth finish on the evening. When all was tallied, the auction and program ads raised just over $20,000. According to the steering committee—Gina Kalendarian, Meg Schmitt, Molly Smillie, Leslie Doskocil, Heather Goodman, and Nancy McGarry—that was nearly double their expectations and hopes. The funds are to be used to build an Arts and Athletics Building on the Trivium School grounds. Because of the auction, the School exceeded the pre-ground breaking goal of $50,000. The School wishes to thank the merchants who contributed items and ads for the auction, those who attended the festivities, and those who worked so hard to make it all happen.
Published on Jul 1, 2001
Anno Respiciente 1 The “Lost Tools” at Trivium 1 Remembering the Overworld 2 The Adventure of Sanctity 5 Cyrano de Bergerac! 7 Auction—A Gre...