Several times in my life, someone has skipped the pleasantries and directly asked me, "Why don't you listen to better music?" While most of my friends listen to the same style of music as myself, I've had a few acquaintances with more refined tastes. The question left me embarrassed, for while I enjoy the intellectual work of unfolding the profundity of Kid A, the real reason I listen to pop music has little to do with my standard apologia. When asked, the Christian pop enthusiast is obliged to state his respect for the masters.
I am selling six hundred CDs this week, roughly a third of my collection. As career smokers do not believe a day will pass without a cigarette, as pious widows do not believe a day will pass without tears, I never believed I would see the day I parted ways with popular music. Must we all grow up? No. But we are free to grow up, and the freedom to grow up makes it enticing.
"Interesting" is an overused word by teachers and students alike. Simply banning a word in class is one way around cliche writing (and cliche thought). On the other hand, spending an afternoon overthinking a term like "interesting" can restore value to the word. Lead your students in a conversation about what makes a thing interesting. Your students may write boring papers and essays simply because no one has ever shown them an interesting thing, identified it as interesting, and investigated the qualities which make a thing interesting.
Most students enjoy a deep read assignment, like the kind described here, wherein the student is given a small passage of a classic text and asked to compose a lengthy series of questions about it. One question per word makes for a nice ratio. 50 questions about 50 words. 100 questions about 100 words. The ratio could go higher, though.
Taken from "Blasphemers," available in full on request.
Students believe themselves to have accomplished quite the coup whenever they trick their teachers into going off on a tangent. On the one hand, I suppose I am content for them to believe this, much like Tom Sawyer was content to let his friends pay him to whitewash a fence. On the other hand, a good education is about shedding light on ignorance. I informed a couple of classes last week that classical education does not really acknowledge the existence of unrelated tangents.
Editor's Note: Created and written by Peter Morgan (the award-winning screenwriter of The Queen), The Crown, an original drama from Netflix about the life and times of Queen Elisabeth II, has become something of a smash-hit, a success with critics and viewers alike. Rich with resplendent detail, magnificent performances, and the pathos offered by real-life, it's a moving tribute to one of the seminal figures of our times. It's respectful but avoids pandering, honest without being indulgent, and dramatic while avoiding undue embellishment.
A late winter fantasy.
God created all things through separation. Water from water. Man from rib. Light from darkness. St. Augustine taught the separation of light from darkness was the fall of the unholy angels, whom God separated from His righteous servants after a war in heaven. The separation of darkness from light was thus a restoration of peace. From the midst of clamor and upheaval, man asks again if a separation of light and dark might restore peace.
A spectre is haunting classical education— the spectre of chronological snobbery. In the last several months I have written a handful of essays articulating and defending the special privilege classical education affords to very old things, and accusations of chronological snobbery occasionally follow. These accusations come not only from casual observers of classical education, but from classical theorists, as well.
My students break the little rules. They do not like to tuck in their shirts. They are like pack-a-day smokers in class, their hands itching to untuck those shirts. They rush outside for lunch, untucking their shirts and sighing deeply as that untucked nicotine hits their blood. They try to get away with untucking their shirts in class, in the halls. When I tell them their shirts are untucked, they feign looks of surprise as they slowly crane their necks down towards their flapping hems, and say, “Oh, I didn’t know.