If you asked Edgar Allan Poe this question, he would give you a definitive “no.” Remember that classic daguerreotype of Poe? The one where he looks like he just spent the night harassed by a legion of bed bugs? Picture that humorless face, and then read this:
After lately delivering a lecture to my students on the benefits of staying close to your parents, close to your teachers, and not having the kind of hobbies and habits which must be protected by lies, a group of young men asked me, in essence, “How then shall we live?” and they really meant it.
Of course, such a question might be answered in many ways. I might have directed them to read their Bibles more often or to pray more often or to talk less, but I am in the regular habit of encouraging students in such things, and I sensed that the young men needed an uncommon answer.
For three years, I used a Harkness table to teach great books, but when I was lately given the option of returning to the use of conventional desks, I took it. The Harkness table I used previously was beautiful, stately, the kind of furniture you might see in the White House. More than a little awe possesses the heart of man entering a room filled with a table that seats twenty, and I would readily admit such awe is absent when approaching a one-seat desk with unsteady legs and a plastic gloss.
“The world is in a great dream and but few are awake in it.”
Mark: Did you know that Brocktoon was actually kind of a scummy guy?
David: What do you mean “actually”?
Mark: I mean not many people know about the really sordid, awful things Brocktoon did. It’s not in “the history books,” if you know what I mean.
David: What are “the history books”?
Mark: The books they gave us as children.
David: Are these things recorded in “the history books” now?
Mark: I think so.
David: Have you read “the history books” today?
There’s a picture of Pitcairn Island stuck to the side of my refrigerator. It’s actually a postcard sent to my youngest son by one of his buddies who had the thrill of cruising with his family to that historic place. Pitcairn Island became the famous refuge of mutineer Fletcher Christian some time in the late 1700s, along with several other dissenting crew members of the HMS Bounty.
The following lecture was given to students at Veritas Christian School in Richmond, VA at the annual Fall Retreat.
When I was your age, I did not pray much.
In my fourteen years as a high school teacher, I have noticed that Christian teenagers do not like to pray. If I ask a class of twenty students, “Who would like to pray?” it does not matter whether the issue at hand is some national tragedy, or some sick classmate, no one wants to pray.
This is the fifth article in a series examining how cognitive science provides empirical support to the methods of a classical education through a set of principles about learning.
I made my most recent journey through The Lord of the Rings this summer. It was, notably, the first such trip that I have taken at the stop-and-go speed of my (too many) annotations, rather than at the speed by which my gleeful hobbit heart might have wished to “get on to the next good part.” Unsurprisingly, this was also the most fruitful re-read yet.