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September 13, 2007

The beginning of classes

After attending classes at Summit for the third time this week, I can say boldly that the classes at Summit Semester are unlike any other college class that I have taken, and are both the most frustrating and the most interesting classes I have ever attended.
We will cover a great deal of fascinating material in our classes: politics, theology, history, culture, and English literature compose the core subjects, but we use these often as a foundation and starting point. Oftentimes, class will begin on these subjects and then progress into practical application and debates over ideas pertaining to the lecture. For example, today class began with the question of whether or not the government has the obligation to provide certain services to its citizens. The lecture progressed into a discussion of whether or not we should abolish the public education system in the United States.
What we learn applies directly and immediately; it does not depend on "another semester" to cumulate before we can use it for a career or further education. We already see the necessity of composing our ideas so that we can know what and why we think what we do.
However, by far, the greatest asset to the semester and our classes is the instruction and education by Dr. Bauman. I use the word "education" as he explained it to us during one of his early addresses to our class: "Indoctrination tells you what to think; education tells you how to think." He does not run his classes strictly as a lecture or as a discussion, but rather a combination of both. Class time begins with his lecture, but shortly after bringing up a point, he will then ask a student his opinion. Since the student body is a group of conservative Christian students, the student usually answers with what Dr. Bauman calls a "Sunday School" answer. But rather than being content with that answer, Dr. Bauman replies with another question, taking on the role of "Devil's Advocate." The student, suddenly aware that his response was not adequate, stammers another answer, although by this point, he is often confused. I know this from experience. When Dr. Bauman called my name the first day of class, I quickly became nervous and unsure of what I thought was a secure answer. Although this method of Socratic teaching seems intimidating, we will benefit immensely from its practice. It will prepare us to defend our positions to those who disagree with us.
Dr. Bauman explained to us that this semester will be a time of growth. We have an opportunity to focus on complete devotion to the instruction of God's Word and the application of it in our lives. We will benefit immensely.

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