Common Core Challenges

The ancients knew that in order for men to be truly free, they must have a liberal education that includes the study of literature, history, mathematics, science, music and art. Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s requium… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here…
— Professor Daniel B. Coupland

There are a number of dangers with the Common Core standards being rolled out in schools across America. Like the danger of taking away 1+1+1=Everything. This is the arithmetic employed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his most popular book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn explains how one character, during one day in one prison camp explains every day of every person in all of the camps employed by Soviet Russia during the horrific trials of their concentration camps.

A work visited in Mr. Gregg Preston's history course, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich describes the suffering and degradation of the Soviet camps. Solzhenitsyn works to depict suffering in terms of physical deprivation, working to give perspective to those who haven't experienced the debilitating realities of a concentration camp by famously noting, "Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?" Through Ivan students are introduced to aspects of suffering as the author pinpoints suffering is not only physical and psychological, but also spiritual. 

Solzhenitsyn paints a clear picture of how the Soviets sought to breakdown prisoners through their regimented, regulated prison camp practices. His understated ending of Ivan closes, "Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell. The extra three were for leap years". This documentation of the Soviet regimented camp shows Stalin's Communist regime's design to breakdown individual dignity and human solidarity.

However, Solzhenitsyn introduces an anchoring character into Ivan's life. Alyoshka is an honest man who draws strength from the New Testament he has hidden in his cell wall. Alyoshka is the only person who gives postive explanation to Ivan's experience as he states, "Be glad you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul."

From Solzhenitsyn's book students understand that suffering is a physical and spiritual issue, and from Ivan's example we see the resilience of life supported not from a physical strength, but a foundation of Spiritual assuredness given by Jesus Christ.

Solzhenitsyn's book is a piece of literature that Mr. Preston's class interacts with over the course of the year. A small example of the larger mission in providing a Biblically-based liberal arts education. As noted in the video above, literature is in danger through the Common Core standards being rolled out across the nation. Hillcrest is taking a firm stand against the standards and looks forward to providing students with a cohesive education that includes classic literature pieces that will drive students deeper into life.  

Hillcrest challenges students to think about the reality of God for both the world and themselves. Using the Bible as the cornerstone, teachers and staff develop meaningful study of physical realities and the deep spiritual consequences God instills into the heart of man. It's what makes high school at Hillcrest about so much more than a diploma.

Ryan EricksonComment