All tagged Winter 2017

The School as Tapestry: The Six Dimensions of School Life

In school life, the weavers of destruction are not nearly so violent and their intentions are not so plainly malignant. In fact, their weaving can often seem quite reasonable at the time. They may see their actions as honorable, even necessary. Often this destruction can come in the form of a headmaster or teacher being removed too quickly (or for the wrong reasons), disciplinary matters left untended, or a school culture that runs contrary to wisdom and virtue.

The Quadrivium and the Character of God

Sometimes when reading or studying or listening, I catch a glimpse of ideas and connections beyond my current understanding. At times these ideas are nascent and ephemeral—mists that have not yet solidified (if they ever will). It is as if figures are coming together on the periphery of my vision, and I fear that if I look at them directly, the forms will dissolve into vaporous ribbons and float away. Some passages of scripture are like that—for a moment I can grasp a spiritual truth or significance that swells beyond my comprehension. I am encouraged by the fact that even the Apostle Peter said that Paul was hard to understand. 

How Not to Teach Poetry

You might think that loving to read (or even write) poetry would make you qualified to teach poetry, but it doesn’t. I can still recall that sinking feeling in my stomach when, after reading a poem to my 10th grade class, I realized that I had to say something about it. It was a helpless feeling: “If you cannot simply see the beauty of what we read just now, what can I possibly say to make you see it?” It’s a bit like Chesterton explains in Orthodoxy: the things we are most convinced of are often the ones we find most difficult to explain or defend, like if you were suddenly asked why civilization should be preferred to savagery: the multiplicity of reasons is so overwhelming response is impossible. 

The Arts & The Education of Attentiveness

The smallest things often spark the greatest alterations; our happenstance changes and choices, like pebbles dropped in still water, ring their way outwards till the whole of life’s encircled. Had you been a reflective Italian tradesman in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, your attention may have been captured by the wonderful and terrible Great Events happening all around you: the city-states finding independence from the papacy, sublime cathedrals springing towards the skies, a whole new class of merchants bridging the class divide, rumors of a Black Death prowling nearby. And with your whole world convulsed in the eager pangs of a new birth, a Renaissance, perhaps you would not have assigned much significance to the changing of the bells. 

The Seeing of the Eye: On Job, God's Revelation, and the Problem of Evil

Classic literature is one of the great humanizing forces of our civilization. This is because literature can take an arcane philosophical problem and clothe it with living flesh, forcing readers to grapple with universal questions in the context of human relationships. At its best, classic literature calls forth essentially human reactions from its readers; the more we read it, the more human we become. 

Re-visiting Honey for a Child's Heart


 no longer have my original heavily underlined copy of Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart. I lent it to a ‘friend’, once, and then later noticed it on her bookshelf. I hesitantly hinted that it was mine. Perhaps she didn’t hear me, but I came very close to stealing it back. The booklist in the back of that copy was covered in notes and codes: O for own, RA for read-aloud, initials of children who had read the book, and so on. I miss that old friend. The book, that is, not the thief.

Andrew Pudewa on How He Discovered Classical Education

 For years Andrew Pudewa has been speaking about writing, music, spelling, memory, and much more, but, of late, he can also be found at various classical education events (including at CiRCE conferences). In a way this makes sense, because classical education brings together so many of his interests; but he was late in discovering classical education, as he explains here. 

5 Books on the Moral Imagination

I have been asked to recommend five books on the “moral imagination”—an assignment that sounds easy on the face of it and yet is very hard. It has caused me to ask myself what exactly is meant by the expression “moral imagination,” an expression one rarely runs across these days. It lacks the rational or technical flavor we modern people like in our language and therefore appears to lack precision.

So my first task is to determine its meaning. How might this be done?