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Thesis Presentation and Classical Christian Education

Every year, for the last 6 years, Veritas Junior and Senior presented their thesis, and every year I am amazed at the transformation that occurs in the student through the process writing the thesis. Everyone who hears the presentation is usually surprised at the caliber of the content and the delivery of the speech. But as one of the advisors throughout the entire process of writing every year, I have the privilege of witnessing the process of the transformation of beautiful human beings.

First, thesis-writing is transformative because in the process of selecting the thesis topic, the students set out to face the deepest problems of our generation. Topics like “Rest in a Restless Society,” “Social Media: The Beginnings of Modern Totalitarianism,” “Fact Became Myth: The Mythology of Modern Science” deal with pervasive problems of our generation. These are giant, dragon-problems, and these students are like the little Bilbo Baggins that took a giant step of faith to squarely face these problems.

Second, thesis writing is transformative because the students struggle with issues that are deeply personal, while being universal at the same time. Year after year, many students choose a topic that we are all so prone to fall prey to: social media, secular music, loneliness, self-centeredness, and fears of various kinds. Many times, the solution to our demons is to name them. These are no ordinary speeches. What is remarkable about these speeches is the courage with which these students face their own fears. But we also know where this courage comes from: a taste of God’s love and grace.

Third, thesis writing is transformative because they grow as thinkers in the process. Every thesis paper describes a problem on the practical level (personal, social, historical) and its underlying theoretical level (philosophical, theological levels), and offer a clear theoretical solution as well as a practical solution. Thinking through these issues at all these different levels is intense. And no student can think through any of these properly without years of reading deeply in the classics, training in Christian worldview, and learning to think clearly.

Fourth, thesis writing is transformative because it is a culmination of a student’s training in rhetoric, the art of communication and persuasion. By all account, both Christians and non-Christian experts, those who are well trained in the art of critical thinking and the art of persuasion will be the leaders of every field of profession. One thing I notice every year is that there is a perceptible difference in the student’s confidence in life (not just speaking) before and after the thesis presentation.

Fifth and finally, thesis writing is transformative because a new vision of hope and life is wrought through the cauldron of thesis-writing. Thesis writing takes an entire year. From the conception of an idea, the student’s ideas are tested, revised, and refined with the guidance of several advisors throughout the year, and peer-reviewed, all with the desire to strengthen and stretch the student to the fullness of God’s wisdom. The result is a refined gold, not just the paper, but the student—full of God’s grace and power.

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