Below you will find my thoughts from Lesson 3 and its discussion questions.
The opening discussion on the Liberal Arts was well put. "Liberal" is from the Latin liberate or to free. The Liberal Arts free us to be. Grammar is something I have always struggled with. I struggled with it because of horrific moments in my education as a small child. I have never mastered it (although Latin and homeschooling has forced me to revisit them). There are jobs or academic moments or ideas for publication that are not possible because I never mastered this and in this way, I am not free.
The idea of freedom came up again with the discussion of the arts. Free is to be good. I believe the classical system viewed the arts as a skill and sciences as a body of knowledge. There were the language arts, fine arts, and the sciences. Even theology and philosophy were once understood to be a science. There is an intimate relationship between the arts and sciences. The Liberal Arts encompasses all of this. Yes, we can think of the liberal arts as specific subjects and many universities do. But we can also see the Liberal Arts as education in a mastery of a set of skills: to be good, to be wise, to possess virtue. And this is then made possible because we have come to know goodness, wisdom, virtue, and have imitated it, and have been mentored into mastery.
In another lesson the question was asked. For what good, or what end, do we assess? Speed drills in Math and Latin, Catechetical Recitation, are all opportunities for assessment. I can become aware of how my children or students are doing in these moments. It is important to remember that they do not give me the full picture. But these forms of assessment do exemplify an assessment aimed at the good of the child. But they can only be for the good of the child if I am involved as a master/mentor. Many schools still use speed drills for assessment but the teacher does them, collects them, grades them, and hands them back. If a student has failed, then they might get some mentoring; but the mentoring earlier on could have made all the difference in the world. There are other examples. I do not mean to suggest that speed drills are the end of lessons but the thought did come to me from combing Lesson 2 and 3, and taking a walk to contemplate the ideas. But these three examples of assessment can be for the good of a child if I use them as a tool in my relationship with them as their mentor. I need to be present to them, I need to offer guidance, and provide practical steps for moving forward.