Carpenter’s Rules of Decorum 

Over at the Circe Institute blog, writer and teacher Joshua Gibbs posted a fantastic article about his “Rules of Decorum” for his classroom and I felt inspired to come up with my very own. Read both his and mine. Enjoy!

Carpenter’s Rules of Decorum

1. You are here for a reason. Whether it’s because your parents agree with classical education, or because you needed to be challenged intellectually, the most important reason you are here is because God has placed you here, ultimately to grow you to be like Christ and prepare you to walk in His Way in a very dark world. Remember that, it will ground you and help you have gratitude in the future.

2. You are to love and be loved, which can be the hardest thing to ever do or accept. Your classmates and sometimes your teachers will push your buttons and you will want to react in a negative and sinful way because part of you thinks you are better than them in some capacity. Don’t. When interacting with others remember to love as Christ loved you and to count others more significant than yourselves. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

3. Words are the most powerful force in the universe. God created the cosmos with His word; Christ came into the world being known as The Word; The Spirit regenerates through the preaching of the word and God has given you the power of words. To build up or tear down, your friends, your family, your teachers, your school with the words that come out of your heart is your choice. Use them wisely.

4. You are primarily Image Bearers, not “rational animals” or “thinking things.” Therefore your education is not to just fill your brains with facts and information, but to transform your hearts that you may taste and see the beauty, truth and goodness of God. My job is to share with you the stories, ideas and lives that have changed the world and point it all to Christ so that you can see how Christ is the true key to all wisdom and knowledge, and that, as Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

5. Participation Matters. Don’t waste your education by just cruising through class and life. Use these years to be involved, discover new subjects, debate clashing ideas and become passionate about something that isn’t trivial. Be ready for class by getting a good night sleep, eating a good breakfast and come ready to explore new worlds through the study and discussion with your classmates on theology, history, philosophy and the classics. 

6. Homework Matters. I know you have probably encountered some poor sap that gets assigned busy work just to add a grade to the gradebook or heard of a teacher abolishing homework. My homework, which 100% of it is reading great books and writing essays on important topics, is not busy work. It’s work, that’s for sure, but it’s work meant to challenge you, to inspire you and help you see the world as God created it. It’s to make you ask yourself if you believe what you believe to be really real. My assignments are to make you examine your soul and go in search of the truth, as you discuss it with your parents at the dinner table, your classmates in the lunch room and with me during breaks. So do it and do it with a heart that knows that I made it for you.

7. Find a subject you are passionate about and discover everything you can about it. History, Science, Theology, Mathematics, Philosophy or Literature; there are countless possibilities that await you. But love it. I read 150-200 books on theology, history and philosophy a year, not so I can just become a better teacher and more knowledgeable in my subject, but because I love it and I love what I do.

8. Read books. You have 60 years on this planet left, don’t waste it on garbage. Read books outside of the classroom, ones that you enjoy or read on a whim whatever looks good. Just read and then come tell me about it. 

9. Life is tough. My door is always open if you want to talk about life, theology or stuff that you are passionate about, but know that my goal is always to help you become more like Jesus, even if it is challenging and hard. 

10. My little girls are my world. Treat my daughters like the heavenly royalty that they are when they come visit daddy at work and the odds will ever be in your favor. 

11. It is known that there is always a possibility for a jam session. Beware, with just the right words, I will break out my air guitar and rock out, classical style. Welcome to The Jungle. 

12. Food is the way to my heart. Subway. Chipotle. Buffalo Wings. This is my love language…just in case you need ideas for Christmas gift(card)s.