The best American schools have yet to remember why western civilization introduced “school” as the foundation of that civilization. Mostly, that is because the more we talk about school, the less we do it.
For the weekend crowd, this is a sampling of what we've been reading this week.
Christian Classical education is “logo-centric” (among other things) – driven by language, in love with words, books, literature, truth; both logos and the Logos. Living in a time of confused and devalued language, then, proves difficult for many of us. To use one example, the title of “classic” can now apply to any book people are still talking about after a month or so. And to make sure the label of “classic” sticks a smattering of specific categories has been created: “modern classic”, “cult classic”, “destined to be a classic”, and so on.
There is a writing assignment that I do with my classes (slightly modified) that involves studying a picture–really capturing a picture in your imagination–and then attempting to express that picture through writing, through words. Essentially, the assignment is designed to demonstrate the way language always involves some sense of loss; when we try to communicate an experience, a feeling, a memory, an image, we often sense how even the best words seem to leave so much out.
Three sounds – a loud shriek, splashing, and the slamming of the toilet lid – brought me quickly from the kitchen to the hall bathroom. Greeted by a smiling, soaking wet toddler walking rapidly from the room, I knew I was in for something special. I was not to be disappointed. Toilet paper had been spun directly from the holder into the toilet and water covered the floor.
Genesis chapter one is all about purpose.
“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that above the expanse. And it was so.”
So God says the expanse – the sky – is necessary to separate the waters. That’s its purpose, its job, and it’s a job fundamental to its essence.
What about the trees and the plants? They have a unique and essential purpose too:
Quae Nocent Docent
[in Christ’s Hospital book]
O! mihi praeteritos referat si Jupiter annos! (1789)
Oh! might my ill-past hours return again!
No more, as then, should Sloth around me throw
Her soul-enslaving, leaden chain!
No more the precious time would I employ
In giddy revels, or in thoughtless joy,
A present joy producing future woe.
Liana Heitlin of Education Week recently reported, “Nearly every teacher in the U.S. now knows about the Common Core State Standards, and 73 percent of math, English, science, and social studies teachers in states that have adopted them say they are enthusiastic about their implementation, according to a new survey.”
Here is the accompanying graphic:
A few days ago, after I got home from work, I took my 3-year old (Ransom) and 2-year old (Calvin) outside to the old, wooden swing-set in our backyard, which is, without a doubt, one of their favorite activities. It is also one of the few things they do in near-silence, so it is one of my favorite activities now, too.
In their book, Bless This House: Prayers For Families And Children (which you can find here), Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe write about how “mornings seem to be the special province of young children”, about how it’s hard for parents to keep up with the incredible energies of a child freshly awake. Bethany and I know this first hand. Coulter has more energy than any creature I’ve ever seen from the moment he wakes up to moment he finally falls asleep, his stuffed animals gathered around him like a pack of friends.