Classicists do not believe a Golden Age is nestled somewhere in the past. Classicists are not trying to revive a Golden Age, and neither do classicists aim to bring some Golden Age about in the future. Neither classicism nor conservatism has any interest or belief in a Golden Age.
The size of a poem is not something that can be measured by line number. Some long poems are “big” in their moral vision—like the heroic code of the Iliad, the transcendent grandeur of the Divine Comedy. But other long poems are philosophically cramped—like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Say whatever you want about the speaker of this poem (yes, the poet is large; yes, he contains multitudes), but by the end of all that soul-expansion, all that spiritual osmosis, all that singing of oneself, we are still only left with some guy from West Hills, NY.
The classical tradition has much to say about the quest for self-knowledge. Nonetheless, I often hear classicists treat the self-knowledge offered by personality tests as an important and reliable development in the Western quest for self-knowledge. I cannot but resist. Few modern intellectual “disciplines” seem as flimsy, faddish, and prone to flattery as the current intrigue with categorizing personalities. That we might all disabuse ourselves of personality tests (and the shallow conception of personality which attends them), I offer the following seven theses:
Teaching students to think for themselves, to inquire independently, or to exercise intellectual self-reliance is all the rage. This is true of both educational theory and educational practice. For example, Harvey Siegel, one of the world’s leading philosophers of education, says, “Our educational obligation is not to deliver our students to flourishing lives (or happy ones), but rather to prepare them to consider for themselves (among many other things) the virtuousness of the virtues and their place in their own lives” (emphasis added).
The thought of sending my daughters off to college does not excite me, as it has been many years now since I last heard an encouraging news story come out of an American college campus. I do not doubt that good colleges yet exist, although the question of whether I can afford them is another matter. And I am sure that good professors may be found on every college campus in the country, though I am not persuaded that three fine literature teachers can justify a hundred thousand dollars of student loan debt. Nonetheless, beyond high school, my daughters will need something more.
Last Friday, I nearly burned the place down. During my lunch break, I started a pot roast simmering in wine and diced onions, and when I walked back in the door two hours later, the smoke alarm was blaring and the apartment was thick with smoke. My wife and I spent the following day cleaning every inch of our little home. Every blanket, every towel, and pillow case was laundered, and several armloads of clothes were taken to the dry cleaners. We set out bowls of vinegar, bowls of baking soda, and bowls of aromatic oils. We have a professional cleaner scheduled for later this week.
Welcome back to The Daily Poem! Today's show reveals the winners of our most recent contest winners.
For classical educators striving to “integrate the disciplines,” music provides an invaluable instrument of integration. Music studies harmonize with every core discipline of the curriculum: the music of various periods vocalizes the movements of history, the formal structures of music correspond to the formal structures of poetry, the theory of music applies principles of mathematics, the physics of music makes audible the laws of science. Music even bridges education’s theoretical and technical divide, as it can be both contemplated with the mind and practiced with the hands.
In high school, I can remember reading only one work of fiction, which was, ironically, Great Expectations. In my blue-collar town, manual labor and resourcefulness were predominant virtues, so each year our headmaster directed the high school students to set up a large outdoor Fall Festival. One year we repurposed an old rubber swing seat and headed into the woods to rig up a zipline.
Welcome back to the Commons, a podcast about school leadership with Dr. Brian Phillips. On this week's episode Brian continues his reflections on enduring during the challenging month of February, with a particular focus on teaching through those "blahs" and the need for persistent prayer.