Kate Deddens Jul 11, 2018

Allow me to tell you The Fable of the Fearsome √2, a proud irrational number with an unsettlingly sinister story behind it.

Feel free to share this story with the little children whom you tuck in. Please note that this is, like any respectable fairytale, the stuff of legend. Furthermore, as is a storyteller’s prerogative, I’ve taken a few minor liberties—mostly with respect to vocabulary—in retelling the legend.

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Christine Norvell Apr 19, 2018

I have at times attempted to define classical education by referring to the liberality of the liberal arts. Maybe I aimed too high, but surely a word that denotes generosity and freedom is favorable. That word liberal, however, is so misused today that it brings confusion not clarity. No, I’m not speaking of the political spectrum. This isn’t about a liberal bent in social issues. 

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Kate Deddens Apr 6, 2018

In my last article, “Can Mathematics be Parables?” I considered the fantastical realm of “imaginary” numbers. Now, wander with me across a terrain of numbers even more dazzlingly head-spinning . . . and even more hazardous, perhaps, to encounter.

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Greg Wilbur Mar 14, 2017

The idea of the interconnectedness of various disciplines, and the Quadrivium itself, hinges on the necessity and reality of there being an intentional order in the cosmos. If there is no order, then laws of nature, discoverability, and knowledge become chance, capricious, and subjective. If there is no intentionality, then happenstance, luck, and coincidence replaces an almighty but personal God who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

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Andrew Kern Jan 5, 2017

Freedom is a great practical thing, not an ideological idea.

When people rule you on the basis of their own authority, you are not a free person. This is just as true in the classroom, the office, or the shop as it is in Washington, DC or London.  

But how can that be prevented?

True freedom has everything to do with how behavior, work, and thought are measured. Where do the criteria arise? This is not as obscure a thought as it might seem. Whoever assesses you is your boss. So where do the standards of assessment come from? 

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Andrew Kern Dec 14, 2016

Among the most profound mistakes of our era, I am convinced we would have to list the shift from the liberal arts to subjects in our schools. 

If you teach subjects, one of the many unfortunate things that happens is that students quickly catch on that there is content (i.e. information to be remembered) in this subject. If they like it, they will pay attention, if not, you need something else to get them to do so. 

Tests will do, thank you very much. But that's only one of the myriad ways teachers are taught to manipulate the students affections and minds. 

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Lindsey Brigham Knott Dec 10, 2016

We had been practicing the common topics of rhetoric for several weeks when one of the students approached me after class, brow furrowed. “Miss Brigham,” he confided, “these things are messing with me.” 

(My teacher’s heart rejoiced within me. If “things messing with me” means assumptions and desires being displaced, upended, rearranged, then surely this is an excellent—albeit colloquial—definition of learning itself.) 

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Andrew Kern Mar 8, 2015

Late 19th century and early 20th century industrialists had to prevent workers from making decisions, because that would interfere with productivity. The effect was to reduce the lives of the works to sub-human routines (it may be worth comparing that practice with Josh Gibb's article from yesterday about the place of liturgies!). 

The labor unions were formed to defend the workers from abuse, but to a great extent they accepted the industrialist premise. People should not have to make their own decisions. 

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Richard Marsh Jan 21, 2015

As a physics teacher, I get to play with toys as part of my job.  Physics labs give me the chance to dig out classic favorites such as Slinkys and Hot Wheels cars and put them to educational use.  Occasionally I get catalogs from laboratory equipment manufacturers full of strange and sterile contraptions, but I find that students learn better when they personally connect the lessons to familiar things, and the more nostalgic the better.  And so, where I am able, I make the childhood playground my laboratory.

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David Kern Jan 14, 2015

Christopher B. Nelson has been president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, since June 1991. He is an alumnus of St. John's (B.A. 1970) and a graduate of the University of Utah College of Law (J.D. 1973), where he founded and directed the university's student legal services program. He practiced law in Chicago for 18 years and was chairman of his law firm when he left the practice to take his current position at St. John's College.

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