I was recently summoned to jury duty, and ended up serving on a trial in a criminal court all week. I was so frustrated at being chosen, because they warned us during voir dire that the case could take all week. Unfortunately, teaching was not a valid reason to excuse me. And their predication came true, of course.
By the end of it, however, I can say I am truly grateful for the experience. It was an amazing group of jurors and, when we were finally given permission to discuss the trial, we deliberated over the evidence for at least 2.5 hours. We asked to re-watch the video surveillance footage admitted to the case as evidence. When the screen was too small, we requested the ability to watch it on a larger one. And when we received what we requested, we deliberated over it for over two hours.
Many of us were from different backgrounds, and those backgrounds led some of the jurors to express a difference of opinion. Many of us held different levels of education, and this led some jurors to dispute the definition of aggravated assault (which is the charge we were dealing with.) But somehow, someway, by the end of the deliberation we all arrived at the same opinion. We did so by setting our feelings and speculations aside, and by limiting our debate to the facts in front of us. I went into the juror room not knowing what to expect, not knowing what the outcome would be, or even if my fellow jurors would listen to each other. Yet I left confident in our decision, and proud of our shared work as a jury.
The reason I write this is because the process I went through as a juror is exactly what we are teaching students to do at Covenant. The whole jury discussion was exactly like a seminar! This made me realize just how important the classical education we do at CCA actually is.
Our students are being trained to know the facts, to listen to different interpretations of them, to value and respect those interpretations, and to find what common ground exists between them.
And oh, how I wish you could have seen my students in our last seminar! They were every bit as scrutinizing, as rigorous, as fair-minded, as truth-seeking as the jury I served on (which was composed of adults, btw!). They have done excellent work for me, even if the grades don't reflect it. And they are becoming those same kinds of people--kids who will become citizens capable of sitting on a jury and making an unbiased judgment.
Unfortunately, I believe our country is in the process of losing this ability, especially on social media, where opposing views lead to shouting ,and differences of opinion create enemies. At CCA, we are fighting this trend, and it is a fight making what we do worth all the energy invested.
Our students are engaged in a process that is making them mighty--mighty in mind, body, and soul--and mighty for God, for kin, and for country.