Driving home from school one day, I passed a sight that smacked of Flannery O’Connor. In the drab parking lot of a storefront church was pitched a small white tent; within the tent sat a bearded man in a lawn chair; and beside the man was propped a sign that read “Need Prayer?” Save for this, the parking lot was empty, and the bearded man meditated in the calm shade of his tent and his solitude like a modern Jonah beneath his vine. I almost looked twice for a briefcase of Bibles or a rat-colored truck.
“If a human being were a machine . . . the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems. But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissipation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power.”
“How to help your students fall in love with classical education” is a common theme of the classical renewal’s spokesmen. “How to help them once they do” is a more rare, yet equally pressing, issue.
I have scruples against calling myself a Writer, capitalized, but I echo Augustine in “profess[ing] to be one of those who, by profiting, write, and by writing profit.” Never especially disciplined or consistent in my writing efforts, never attempting any grand projects, yet over the years I have accumulated piles of notebooks, loose papers, and flash drives full of words I felt compelled to write when met by beauty too strong to forget or thoughts too tangled to untie.
The English language is a minefield of buried metaphors. Take “buried metaphor,” for instance. Standard dictionary definitions treat the phrase as an abstract term, defining “buried metaphor” as a word or phrase that, though originally intended as a figure of speech, has been used so frequently that it now represents a specific concept without the figurative connotation.
Not only does classic literature provide wisdom for life and virtue, but it also yields all the advice needed to plan the perfect vacation, as exemplifed in the following cursory survey.
If you don’t want surprise company upon your return, be sure to lock the doors and close up tight when you leave home. (Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows)
Choose a mode of transportation that feels “free and easy and comfortable,” preferably one that allows for plenty of stops along the way. (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
To begin, twenty theses on lawn mowing.
Lawn-mowing is a primary way to show respect and care for one’s neighbors, for the landscape of your yard is the view from their windows.
Being a good steward of the home God has entrusted one requires he mow his lawn, for that keeps it tidy and healthy.
The labor of mowing a lawn is labor for beauty and order.
Amongst the greatest gifts a classical school can bestow upon its students is the opportunity to become skilled in the use of words.
As a student, I earned spending money by tutoring rather than babysitting. As a teacher, I ventured into high school rather than elementary classrooms. After church on Sundays, I join lively conversations with my congregation’s teenagers, but end tongue-tied after a few minutes’ talk with the toddlers. Though I’ve certainly never sought to avoid the company of young children, circumstance and inclination have generally put me in that of older ones instead.
In George MacDonald’s fairytale-fable The Wise Woman, a little girl is put to a test in which she must complete a list of chores in the magical cottage of the Wise Woman. This little girl never stoops to do chores in her own home, but at the Wise Woman’s, she condescends to spend a day sweeping and tidying and tending the fire. Yet these acts of obedience do not make her more virtuous; on the contrary, they stir her “to think herself Somebody”—to become more vain, more haughty, more selfish. For, as MacDonald sagely observes,