The classical renewal places great emphasis on the trivium and on language. In contrast to modern progressive education which only “has a mind of metal and wheels,” classical education restores the primacy of the word over the gadget. Rather than the know-how of mechanical manipulation, a language-based education ascends to the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty. And the crowning achievement of language is poetry for it moves us from the mundane to the spiritual through the symbolic layers of its words.
Mozart died at 35 having composed over 600 compositions. I circle that age, 35, over and over again until I fear the pen will rip through the page. Why that number means more to me than the number of compositions underscores a simple reality about learning: we can’t stop ourselves from connecting.
The rhetorician is not safe if he imagines that anything he says can have value when it is separated from or other than the fruit of prayer.
He is a fool if he thinks he can do more than proclaim the crucified Christ as a Herald proclaims a simple message. If his words are for his advantage instead of the blessing of the listener, he is not standing beneath the cross as he speaks.
If his words are not emanations of the light of Christ he has not brought his message from the throne of the heavenly Majesty.
This article is part three in a series of reflections on what The Confessions of Saint Augustine has to say to modern educators.
No one questions the whole idea of homeschooling more than a homeschool mom in February. February is a notoriously hard month for homeschool moms. It’s the month most of us want to throw in the towel, quit, hide under a pile of fun books, and send our children to boarding school. In Switzerland.
Though I have little interest in standardized personality tests, it has always tickled my fancy that I am the same Meyers-Briggs type as Luke Skywalker. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that when I was a child, the Bible and Star Wars were the two texts that most informed my vision of the world, and while other children may have preferred the vest of Han Solo or the cloak of Darth Vader, I intuited my kinship with Luke at an early age. Now, as an adult at the beginning of my first year of teaching, I once again see myself in Luke.
This article is part two in a series of reflections on what The Confessions of Saint Augustine has to say to modern educators.
In a culture obsessed with efficiency, performance, and competition, we often overlook one of life’s simple pleasures--a pleasure that children experience readily until grown-ups teach it out of them. Lewis explains this pleasure in one of the greatest sermons of the 20th century:
A dialogue with a parent, regarding the practice of confessing sins at Morning Prayer (the form of which is taken from the Book of Common Prayer).
It’s early. Sunlight pours into the riparian valley on which the campus of the classical Christian school sits. The Rhetoric School begins to gather at the doors of the auditorium for their ten-minute liturgy of prayer to start the day. Outside, a parent sees the Headmaster and shares concerns.
In a room full of thirteen-year-olds, I shared that my daughter and I had recently finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and that it had now become my favorite book in the series. (Full disclosure: every time I finish a Narnia book again, that book runs the risk of becoming my favorite book in the series...)
“This was my first time to read the book …”, I began to share, only to be interrupted.
Probatos itaque semper lege, et si quando ad alios deverti libuerit, ad priores redi.
One should always read sound literature, Seneca advises, and when one begins feeling the urge to pass on to new reading material, return to the books or authors already read.