There’s a dark irony within our current educational institutions. It appears as if the very time in which we began to place a heavy emphasis on test scores and practical skills is exactly when our schools and students started heading downhill. Don’t misunderstand me. I do not mean to imply that there was once a “glory day” for schooling, as if everything was once perfect and has only recently begun to break down. Nor do I wish to claim that an emphasis on testing and practicality is somehow the only factor contributing to poor education.
Nautae caelum et terram vident is a humble Latin sentence. It means, “The sailors see the sky and the land.”
It’s simple, yet it involves interconnecting thoughts and the ability to organize them in a systematic, coherent manner.
This sentence is relatively complex in the knowledge and skills it requires. To translate it, you must identify the syntactical attributes of each word, define each accordingly, and assemble them in English.
Now that we’ve been back at school for several weeks, there is a certain type of Facebook post that has become commonplace amongst my friends whose children go to school: the drop-off and pick-up line angst post.
This should really be a Facebook post genre in its own right, up there with posts about politics, extreme weather, and arguments about obeying the gods.
Is Shakespeare a moral enigma? Many critics have thought so. Take the late Anthony Nuttall, who contended that “we have no idea what Shakespeare thought, finally, about any major question”—or Harold Bloom, who has argued that the Bard was “too wise to believe anything.” Such remarks challenge Shakespeare enthusiasts: When a play like Twelfth Night contains such a diverse cast of characters, such a motley crew of moral viewpoints, how can we know which characters represent the playwright? How can we know what Shakespeare thinks?
It is pivotal that we read the right stories to our children when they are young so they will learn three things. The first is to never get involved in a land war in Asia. The second is to never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. And the third is to never—never—accept and eat any food that is offered to you by a witch.
“There was once a little man called Niggle, who had a long journey to make. He did not want to go, indeed the whole idea was distasteful to him; but he could not get out of it. He knew he would have to start some time, but he did not hurry with his preparations”: so begins Tolkien’s short story “Leaf by Niggle.”
The results of a new study in Australia highlight a perennial concern in education: significant education gaps in the classroom. The Australia study suggests gaps of 5-8 years in a single classroom, or, to put it in American terms, where students expected to do 7th grade math have not mastered 1st grade concepts. One of the study’s authors writes:
- The nature of a child and education come together, either to mar the child or to help the child flourish. When a child is not taught according to his or her nature, it is like cutting against the grain, dulling the knife and marring the wood. Yet when a child’s instruction aligns with his or her nature, the process is beautiful and the child thrives. Parents and teachers must understand the nature of a child so that their teaching can harmonize with that nature and cultivate him or her into a virtuous and flourishing adult.
The Meno by Plato begins with the direct and forthright question, "Can virtue be taught?"
It ends with the conclusion, stated by Socrates, that it is a gift from the gods. Which, if he is right, is a wise thing to say. And if he just spent a whole dialogue guiding Meno to that conclusion, then he has just led him along the path to wisdom.
Not that Meno has arrived (or that Socrates thought he had), but that he has progressed. He has, if he has a willing soul, moved in the direction of becoming wiser.