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Joshua Butcher

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Everything posted by Joshua Butcher

  1. Who around here does Declamations in their Rhetoric classes? What do they look like? I just finished using a hypothetical Conjecture case with my 11th graders using Hermogenes's On Issues. The students wrote their own issue briefs (in essay form) on each side of the case, and then I broke them into teams for a modified cross-examination debate. They did a pretty good job of following the structures and finding basic claims for each issue, and they did surprisingly well on cross-examination (usually the skill I find students struggling with the most), but they did not do as well in keeping track of opposing claims to address them, and they showed relatively limited imagination in thinking through the possibilities afforded to them by the relatively open-ended fact sheet.
  2. Just for reference, a couple of answers to this question have surfaced at the MRC. Aesthetics in the Classroom
  3. I've posted a thread at the ACCS's Member Resource Center forum seeking a video that was shown at the ACCS Conference last year. In it the headmaster at Ambrose (I think) is interviewed by Christopher Perrin or David Goodwin and they show the aesthetic that the school has built into its Building and Grounds and classrooms. Hopefully they can find it and let me share it. Do you have access to the Member Resource Center?
  4. I understand that completely! I will say that one of the thing that you can do as a faculty is to read one of the Socratic dialogues together and get a discussion going on what Socrates does to move through a discussion. I don't know if it is still available anywhere, but Jenny Rallens did a presentation on virtue formation in the classroom that involved her preparing a class of 5th graders for a discussion on The Lord of the Rings. You might try searching for that, or contacting Rallens to see if she has some resources to share.
  5. You're welcome. Also, my name is Joshua. I didn't think ahead very well when considering a username.
  6. Are you looking for the Socratic Evaluation sheet? I found one in the 12th grade Letters section of the Ambrose CG. https://www.classicalu.com/ambrose-curriculum-guide/acg-7-12-letters/acg-grade-12-letters/
  7. I don't know of anyone in that capacity, but Matt Bianco of CiRCE Institute does Socratic Discussion training and would probably be willing to come out and do it for your teachers at the school. I don't know how much investment you are willing to undertake, but CiRCE also has 3-year mentorship programs, some of which includes Socratic teaching.
  8. I don't know how to cultivate affections in a systematic way, but much of it seems to come from exposure, experience, and imitation. Kids can't love what they don't know anything about, so if we want them to have affection for the cardinal virtues, or theological virtues, or the fruits of the spirit, or the beatitudes, or great literature, or mathematics, or whatever, then we have to expose our students to those things. Exposure isn't enough, however. It must be meaningful. It must be woven into an experience that either a) captivates, or b) cultivates, or both. Captivation seems to come from beholding beauty (which stirs adoration and admiration) or sublimity (which stirs humble fear and awe). Cultivation seems to come from consistently repeated habits. Captivation seems harder to manipulate, whereas habits can be trained through careful ordering of practices. For example, do I want my student to love good penmanship? Then I have to make him write and rewrite paying careful attention to the way I place the paper, the way I hold the pencil or pen, the way I make the strokes, etc. all the while praising the beautifully done aspects, cheerfully correcting the poorly done efforts, and faithfully rebuking the slothful efforts. The demeanor of the instruction just mentioned leads into imitation. Whoever is leading the students' cultivation must herself exhibit what she would have her students learn. I'll admit that this is where I have the most trouble with my own children, because of my selfish impatience for them to "get it right the first time." I don't know if these thoughts bear out the truth, or if I am missing something or am mistaken in some way. If only Socrates were here to test these thoughts, or I had some way to see how students who have been given these things have turned out, I could have more confidence in their success!
  9. I'm not sure what happened with the change of questions. I just checked the course and I see the second question, which you've asked about. As for answering the question, what possible presuppositions do you think progressive and conservative thought hold? The names themselves are suggestive of at least one or two. What makes a progressive seek to progress? A conservative, seek to conserve? The three differences discussed in the lecture are beyond my ability to help you with at the moment, as I've not gone through the course.
  10. Are you asking for examples of how to answer the question in particular, or help interpreting the terms, or something else?
  11. I haven't seen the video, so I'm jumping in a bit blindly. Your claim would only make the thesis irrelevant if the original point is to prove something other than the thesis that academic achievement is the goal of education. That claim is disputable, but it isn't irrelevant to one perspective about education. I think the example would have to be arguing that extra-curricular activities that show data supporting academic achievement are irrelevant precisely because they are extra-curricular. I do think that Russel's point is valid, if I understand him correctly. While you couldn't make the example a main point, or the thesis itself, it could serve as a supporting claim for a thesis or major claim that was more direct. A similar argument might go like this: studies show that humans who believe in the resurrection of Christ have more hope than those who deny the resurrection. This thesis is irrelevant to whether or not the resurrection is true as an historical event, but it does provide supporting evidence for the resurrection from grounds other than history. Another possibility that occurs to me in the original example is that the argument is a potential correlation/causation fallacy. The fact that data show a correlation between sports program participation and academic achievement does not imply that sports participation is the cause of academic achievement. It may just show that high academic achievers also enjoy athletic competition.
  12. After reading again the chapter on Music, I have some additional questions. 1. Is musical education similar to the way the score to a movie works; forming the proper affective background to form the audience's attitudes and reception of the narrative? 2. Would music operate in conjunction with gymnastic as the proper form for training bodily control? Armies use drums to train unified marching, would classical education use music to train certain skills of the body? 3. Would reading be lyrical? Like bards who sung their tales, would classical educators need to make reading come alive through the musical quality of our reading?
  13. Despite referring to Gymnastic and Music as the foundation of the liberal arts, Clark and Jain offer little to know examples of implementation of these critical disciplines of classical education. I have spent a little bit of time brainstorming what gymnastic might attempt to teach and train. I'm curious to know what others think about implementing gymnastic and music curriculum/pedagogy, or identifying where it already exists. What does gymnastic look like in practice? Teaching and training skillful control of the body through: 1. Standing, sitting, walking, running, lifting, singing, dancing, etc. 2. Tool-using such as writing, cutting, organizing, etc. 3. Self-control exercises such as fasting, sleep regulation, praying, directing attention, etc.
  14. Hi Brandon, I don't know of anyone who is currently writing about how to renew higher education in light of CCE, but I do know of some institutions of higher learning that are using classical education: New Saint Andrews in Moscow, ID; New College Franklin in Franklin, TN; Templeton Honors College at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA are three that come to mind. You can also check out the Integrated Humanities Program project that took place at the University of Kansas back in the 1970s. Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain interact with it quite a bit in their latest edition of The Liberal Arts Tradition. You might also try contacting Veritas Press, who spearheaded online classical education for secondary education. They might be able to point you to some resources on higher education.
  15. Welcome, Sara! What has brought you to ClassicalU Forum?
  16. How do you make haste slowly in your lesson planning? What does it look like in your classroom or homeschool environment?
  17. Anthea, I've not read The Black Arrow, so I can't honestly comment on its value. The nice thing about Dickens (or Shakespeare) is that there are inexpensive editions. I hope whatever choice you make turns out well!
  18. I love Tolkien and Lewis, but your list is pretty heavy on fantasy. Shakespeare would be a good choice, but only if you have the students read it in parts (or watch the play before or after reading). What about something like Robinson Crusoe or a Dickens book like Great Expectations? Lord of the Flies would be an appropriate choice for that age, as well.
  19. I suppose there are some general principles that could be laid out, but I also imagine that applying them will look different depending on the age of the student and the objective. An example from my own teaching: I have my senior rhetoric students memorize and perform several speeches from Shakespeare. My goal is three-fold: 1) to have etched in their mind well-crafted words, 2) to better understand human nature, which Shakespeare displays so well, and 3) to have better command of their own rhetorical delivery. First, I perform the speech for the students, to show them a model of what they will themselves look like when they've completed the task. From this point forward, we'll practice the speech in class daily as a simple repetitive exercise until the students have the speech memorized. I have a variety of exercises beyond bare repetition to help the students enjoy the activity in different capacities (for example, I'll have one student be an actor and another be a director who must order changes of emotion--angry, sad, happy, contemplative, etc.--just to get the students thinking about what such emotions would look and sound like with the words). Second, we watch other examples of actor portrayals and discuss the different choices that the actors have made. This allows the students to see that the character isn't limited to one way of portrayal, but it also sets up opportunity for debate once we've read the play and have to draw some hard conclusions about the character that will close off some interpretations actors have made. I also use John Barton's Playing Shakespeare video series to help students understand some of the principles that go into performing a character in Shakespeare. Third, we read aloud the play together, pausing to make sure everyone understands the action, and to discuss the character whose speech we are memorizing at various points in the play. At this point the students know the speech pretty well, but having it in context often brings out things they hadn't considered before, and maybe even impact how they've imagined the pace or emotion of the speech that they've been assuming (or adopting from one of the examples). By this time the students have pretty well memorized the speech and made their own choices about performing the character. Fourth, we watch a version the play together to put the whole package together and as a kind of celebration of their work. Even my weakest speaking students perform beyond their average ability, and they all come to some clearer understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's characters (and I hope, though it is harder to tell, of human characters), though they don't always agree with me :-).
  20. David Smith gave a talk at the Alcuin Retreat in 2014 (I think), which used to be available, but has since disappeared. He taught an upper level German language course to college students in a unique way that perfectly illustrates what "attention getting and keeping" can look like. Instead of giving a spoken lecture on German culture, he decided to open a window into a very tiny slice of Germany during a time when non-Germans would consider most Germans to be monsters: WWII. His goal was to have his students see Germans as human beings with whom they could relate--to make the foreigner into a neighbor. He did this by having a sign at the classroom door indicating that the students should enter silently. The room was darkened and a single black and white photograph was projected onto the front wall or board in the room. After giving the students a few minutes to just look at the photograph he began asking them questions, beginning with very basic things like "how many people are in the picture." When the students seemed to be getting hasty or too rhythmic in their responses, he would interject another question that would challenge an observation or get the students to think again, more carefully. What this did was cause the natural curiosity of the students to engage in the story behind the photograph--Who were these people? What were they doing? Where were they doing it? Why were they doing it? The picture happened to be one of Sophie Scholl and her brother, two university students who secretly protested the Nazi government during WWII (along with several other students), and who the Nazi eventually caught and executed. The students not only were engaged in the photograph and its story, but were introduced to Germans, real Germans who did real things with which the students themselves would be sympathetic to and identify with as university students and haters of Naziism themselves. I think Smith's illustration shows the potential of getting attention, but also shows how much thought and planning it can take to ensure that attention is directed toward some desired end. Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are abstract values, which must be attended to in the concrete particulars where they are manifest. The job of the teacher or the parent is to train a child's attention on the concrete in such a way that the abstract values become apparent--if not to the mind and affections both, then at least to the affections.
  21. Some aspects of teaching style vary depending upon the age of the student, but one constant is imitation. Whether in writing or in speaking, the most palpable and long-lasting agent for student development comes through the imitation of good examples and the recognition of error through observing and analyzing bad examples. Above any other methods, I'd say imitation is the only failsafe. I like to use Corbett's method of writing imitation, which he lays out in Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. I've also taken the Four Categories of Change and collected the figures of speech associated with them and had students insert figures of speech into samples of prose, or write their own prose using the figures. It makes for some clunky and bad style in many cases, but it does force them to think about what the figures look like, mean, and how they get used. I've also had student find certain figures of speech in Shakespeare plays (usually Julius Caesar, but I've also used Merchant of Venice). Familiarity with the figures doesn't necessarily improve style, but does help them recognize it a bit. As resources on the figures, I've also found Ward Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric and Classical English Metaphor indispensable aides.
  22. Thanks for posting this, Patrick! I recall listening to that podcast episode. One of my side projects is to read through several translations of The Iliad (and also the Odyssey) and get familiar enough to use it to supplement rhetorical instruction (if not eventually replace it!)
  23. If one takes the term "religious" broadly, then I don't think it is possible to have a classical education without religious foundation. It has never been done before in the history of man, and modern education that has sought to eliminate religious authority has jettisoned classical as well--precisely because the two cannot be separated, I'd argue.
  24. We are surrounded by easy distractions. It takes no effort to give over to them. Poverty has its own temptations, but they seem far less numerous than those of luxury. God help us!
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