Between “Dream big” and “Change the world,” the preponderance of bad advice adults are apt to give children is amply covered. Despite having a positive, vaguely inspirational air about it, “Change the world” is really nothing other than an exhortation to seize power. Progressives tend to not really care what is done with power after it is seized, for newly seized power invariably creates change. Progressives cannot long agree on a destination towards which progress ought to be made, but change does a suitably convincing impersonation of progress.
While I believe there are good reasons for teachers to not use rubrics when grading student work, I also believe there are bad reasons, and I suspect that many people find the bad reasons more persuasive. What are the bad reasons? Simply put, rubrics make it much harder for teachers to inflate grades, and un-inflated grades are profoundly offensive to modern sensibilities.
"He will not have true friends who is afraid of making enemies."
In this episode, I describe the skepticism I felt toward the idea of having "personal enemies" in my 20s. I also explain why I quit that skepticism in my 30s. Elsewhere in the episode: a lengthy discussion of why the claim, "I married my best friend," rubs me the wrong way; why my wife makes me anxious; why it is good I am anxious.
References to Aristotle, Jerry Seinfeld, and Lenny Belardo.
Ex iis quae mihi scribis et ex iis quae audio bonam spem de te concipio: non discurris nec locorum mutationibus inquietaris. Aegri animi ista iactatio est: primum argumentum compositae mentis existimo posse consistere et secum morari.
This is the opening of Seneca’s second letter to Lucilius, and it moves quickly to an argument for the selective reading of a few books over a less attentive gloss of several authors.
Most great human projects will need more than one generation to come to fruition. This means that real progress necessitates that older generations be capable of persuading younger generations that their projects are worth continuing. Otherwise, younger generations will simply tear down what already exists and begin again, their children will do the same, their grandchildren will do the same, and a cathedral which requires a hundred years to build will never move beyond the twenty-five year mark, even though the laborers continue for many centuries.
I have been learning, this month, to make sourdough bread. Perhaps you’ve eaten it. I doubt, though, you know what it takes to bake it; I, at least, did not.
In That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis tells the story of Mark Studdock, a servile man who ironically comes to realize his true freedom in the limitation of a jail cell. However unpleasant it may be, we have it on good authority that “being at close quarters with death” can actually be good medicine for the soul, especially for the Christian soul. Like Boethius and greater men before him, Mark Studdock receives a great blessing in his incarceration (as he comes to see later on). But how can jail time confer a blessing?
It is hard to explain classical education swiftly and accurately, though I think it is enough to say one or two true things about it that will intrigue people enough to look deeper. Here are four ways of explaining the gist of classical education, none of which is longer than a hundred words. If you only have a thirty second elevator ride to describe classical education, you need not persuade anyone to do anything other than take a second look at it later with sympathy and intrigue.
I typically expect to be a little depressed in January. It is my least favorite month of the year and misplaced Christmas-season expectations often leave me feeling empty, cranky, and ashamed. It is possible after a cheerful glass of mulled wine I may have jokingly expressed to my family that “Christmas in THIS house would not happen without me. I am Christmas. Just lay me in that manager.” This terrible confession is true.
Despite their omnipresence and omnipotence, I believe that schools and universities are living through the last days of grades. Within a generation, I expect report cards and transcripts, numerical grades and letter grades, dean’s lists and honor rolls will be widely despised, disparaged, and moving hastily toward a summary demise. The abolition of grades will not be an isolated movement within the realm of education alone, but part of a much larger cultural trend which is already at work in the world.