Most teenagers don’t know they have already begun an expedition that will determine their future. Consequently, the MCA Social Studies Department has purposely developed a curriculum to outfit these novice adventurers for life’s journey. Like a mountain climber, each student is given the necessary accruements to ascend the mountain of life, but rather than a rope, a pickaxe, and hiking boots, they are given lessons on character, a Biblical worldview, and the ability to think critically and creatively.
Students attending Maranatha will learn lessons in character as illustrated by the life of Robert Perry, who persevered through multiple failed attempts to reach the North Pole, and only after the loss of eight frostbitten toes, planted the American flag at the top of the World. Perry’s grave marker sums up the lesson learned from his life: “I shall find a way or make one.” Fanny Farmer adds to the lesson on perseverance, teaching that a stroke as a teenager is not an obstacle to success, as she ultimately overcame her crippling paralysis to become the Mother of Cooking Measurements, including the teaspoon and the measuring cup. Farmer’s life is an invaluable lesson for students who often have perceived or real handicaps, teaching that they too can achieve noble aims if they don’t let their shortcoming become an excuse for inaction and failure. Students will also learn that making the decision to live a life of character impacts more than oneself. Easy Eddie’s decision to turn from a life of crime as Al Capone’s lawyer demonstrates this moral principle. The choice to live a principled life not only helped bring down a crime boss, but modeled sacrifice and honor to his son Butch O’Hair, who as an American pilot, single-handedly saved much of the Pacific Fleet from a Japanese squadron during WWII. The examples of Perry, Farmer, and O’Hair all provide a model and a standard for students to emulate the rest of their lives.
Learning with a Biblical worldview is another key component of the MCA social studies approach. Students learn that life is orchestrated by God’s providential and sovereign hand rather than by accident. For instance, a customary teaching of the sinking of the ocean liners the Titanic and the Lusitania is that tragedy is simply a part of this meaningless and pain-filled life. Whereas, the providential view of these two events provides hope and inspiration that life, even at its darkest, has meaning and purpose. For instance, the Titanic’s untimely demise, resulting from the diamond-sharp cut of an iceberg, opened the door for the evangelist John Harper to proclaim the Gospel to a ready audience. A short three years later, the Lusitania, struck by a German torpedo during WWI, led Mrs. Belle Naish, the sole survivor of a young honeymooning couple aboard the ship, to donate their newly acquired retreat near Bonner Springs, Kansas, to the Boy Scouts. This became Camp Naish, a Scout camp, which has for many decades played a critical role in developing young men of character. Two ships, two tragedies, and two opportunities to teach that God is present during even the greatest moments of sorrow.
Along with the teaching of character and a Biblical worldview, an MCA student will develop creativity and critical thinking skills. Hands on activities, the deconstruction of primary sources, and debates are all used to develop essential learning qualities in Maranatha students. Students can expect to participate in simulations like rounding up and driving cattle on a long drive to Abilene, marching and learning French during a WWI boot camp, writing political platforms, giving speeches, polling the student body, and making campaign commercials during a simulated election, and writing briefs, deliberating, and handing down opinions as part of a mock Supreme Court. Students will also explore and analyze the writings of American Founders, philosophers, journalist, and poets, so they can vote and act in the future as knowledgeable and well-grounded citizens. Additionally, students will debate political, social, and economic positions to sharpen their understanding of life’s complexity and challenges.
It is common knowledge that no one climbs a mountain or begins a journey without first finding an experienced and knowledgeable guide. Such a shepherd should know how to effectively equip and train the novice climber with expertise and with the requisite skills to overcome both expected and unexpected challenges. What is true for a mountain climb, is true for life. Maranatha is a great place to find quality guides and to train your young adventurer for the challenging journey of life.
— Mark Hoduski, Social Studies Department Head