A couple of weeks ago, I was angry at a friend. During a conversation, he had said some things that frustrated me, made me feel unwanted, and it resulted in me not wanting to be around anyone else for awhile. Shortly thereafter, a couple of other friends invited me to lunch, and I refused to go with them because I was too irritated to be around anyone else. I drove off to get some lunch, alone. As I was pulling into the drive thru line at a fast food chicken joint, two vehicles in front of me crashed into each other.
We often get asked about the best books on education. So I asked around the office a bit. Here's what some of the folks on our team had to say.
It has been said that greatness in art is marked by the impossibility of imagining alteration. The story that could only have come right that way, the sculpture of which every contour begs contemplation, the music whose melody would fall flat were any one of its notes missing or moved—it is a quality that we recognize in such works as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, or Michelangelo’s Pieta, or the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In the preface to his translation of Plato’s Republic, Allan Bloom defends literal translations against contemporary conventions, which attempt to update old authors like Plato to modern standards. Bloom’s insights portray the kind of humility, deference, and intellectual curiosity indicative of the classical mind—the qualities classical teachers desire to embody before and impress upon their students.
At the 2015 CiRCE Conference, A Contemplation of Harmony, Andrew Kern and I led a breakout session called "Transcending Method: The Art of Classical Teaching". What did we mean?
In my last post I described how my class of high school sophomores struggled to believe Socrates’ arguments that a Just man is more powerful than a Tyrant. I turned to Aristotle for consolation, who confided to me that youth desire honor and victory. They hope for their future in the body moreso than do older people. They feel ashamed to challenge conventional norms moreso, too.
In Plato’s Gorgias, beginning in section 466b, Polus and Socrates disagree about what gives men power in the polis.
Polus argues that the ability of the tyrant to kill whomever he wills, plunder whatever he wills, and imprison whomever he wills demonstrates his enviable power. Socrates argues that knowledge of — living in accordance with — justice demonstrates power, and that tyrants are actually least powerful in the polis.
Last night I watched The Dead Poets Society, and I thought about how every teacher longs to have his John Keating moments. These abound in this story of an unorthodox English teacher’s misadventures at a stodgy 1959 boys’ school: whistling his way around (or on top of) desks and administrators, physically spinning metaphors out of the quietest students, igniting in grade-obsessed high-schoolers a love for poetry that sends them out of their beds at night, and lining them up to whack at a ball while yawping grand dictums to Beethoven’s swelling brass.
Heraclitus (in)famously claimed that all is flux; that change is the only constant. Excluding the Triune, Infinite Being, there is plausibility to the more limited claim that all finite beings are flux, that change is a constant. The frail, clumsy body of a child grows into the strong, supple one of an adult. Even the soul of man grows out of infancy into maturity, out of frailty into fortitude, graced by wisdom and virtue.
I recently re-read this article, written by Josh Gibbs in the winter of 2013. The title makes it seem like the article is about sports, but its particular point is about grades. The general point, however, has to do with the natural affections of the human hearts which have been entrusted to teachers in Christian classical schools to be shaped and molded into lovers of truth, beauty, and goodness: lovers of Christ.