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Everything posted by JTB_5

  1. Josh Gibbs speaks to the new teacher or second-year teacher who has been given a long list of great books (which may or may not have been read before by the teacher) to teach without much time to prepare. In the lecture he makes a distinction between "representational art" and "presentational art." The former, he says, plays to the intellect or soul while the latter plays to the senses or the body. In discussing presentational art, the interlocutors can only present a second time the aspects they took in with their senses during the initial sight of it. Folks talking about the latest Transformers flick will only be able to speak of the sheer size or sublimity of the film and not much else. In discussing representational art, on the other hand, interlocutors present anew elements of the art that have inspired or elicited intellectual curiosity. Instead of drawing attention to itself, representational art draws attention to the ideas, questions, or elements that open up to conversation that transcends the art itself. Great books are representational art and thus require the time to read, rest, and reflect upon the book and the thoughts and questions the book inspires--to be filled with time rather than destroyed by time. Because they do not play to the senses, they will not necessarily delight the reader immediately the way that a work of presentational art might. If students aren't aware of the nature of this difference, they'll be tempted to see the love of great books as a game, an exercise in faking it. Josh recommends that the teacher be explicit with the students about the limitations of popular art and tastes for such art to withstand the destructive force of time--what you enjoy today will be boring and forgettable in ten years. The great books, the representational art forms, on the contrary, not only survive time but absorb the force that time possesses and can become even better. Thus, the apology for reading great books. Josh's lecture raises some questions that he doesn't answer (at least not explicitly), and I'm curious to discuss at least a couple with others here. 1. How does the teacher who is reading a great book for the first time provide to the students the right context for reading, resting, and reflecting on the book when the teacher may not have figured out that for himself? In other words, how does the teacher give what she doesn't yet possess and avoid being disingenuous? What can the teacher bring to a first read of a great book that will help the students get something good from it? 2. What traps does the teacher need to look out for in trying to distinguish representational art from presentational art? While the curriculum of great books is more or less given to the teacher without much input, it is the teacher who is more or less responsible for the examples, analogies, anecdotes, allusions, and experiences she will use to move students into discussion of the book. In his lecture, even Josh makes judgments about contemporary films that fall into either category. How does a new teacher discern the difference?
  2. JTB_5

    What Should We Read?

    I have read the translation of Inferno by Dorothy Sayers. The notes are wonderful, but for me it introduced me to numerous vocabulary words I'd never heard of before (which made for some difficulty in the flow of reading).
  3. JTB_5

    What Should We Read?

    A friend of mine recommends the Anthony Esolen translations. The Everyman's Library all-in-one version by Mandelbaum is supposed to be good as well, but I've not read either of them myself.
  4. JTB_5

    What Should We Read?

    Wouldn't it be awesome if a movement toward read-aloud book clubs started?
  5. I saw the picture in both posts, Patrick.
  6. What routines or liturgies do you do regularly that enrich the experience of your family?
  7. While I think the term "liturgy" and "routine" are often used interchangeably, in my original post the former implies a religious purpose whereas the latter does not. Starting my class with a riddle would be a routine, but starting with a Scripture reading would be a liturgy.
  8. JTB_5

    What Should We Read?

    These comments are very helpful, thank you. I've noticed over the years of teaching that when I read books aloud to my students I discover things that I had not discovered reading them silently to myself. Something about putting voice to the words slows down the mind and allows it to take notice of small details.
  9. What routines or liturgies do you (or your school) do regularly that enrich the experience of the class and community?
  10. JTB_5


    I think one of the major difficulties with "worldview" analysis occurs when those using it seek only to reduce a book, or a person, or a position to a label, which they can summarily dismiss as irrational or false. I do think there is a place for a reductio ad absurdum argument, which seeks to adopt the position of the opponent in order to demonstrate that it is illogical or inconsistent with itself or with application to how one lives. However, that sort of analysis requires great skill at logical analysis. Even when it is done well, it isn't often persuasive, as it merely takes down defenses that an opponent may have, leaving the ground clear for a positive articulation of an alternative. That being said, I think Douglas Wilson presents a fuller picture of worldview analysis that tries to get at the concept from multiple angles, using the metaphor of a wheel: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
  11. I've been noticing how many folks have been joining ClassicalU Forum, and that the overall numbers of folks singed up is rather large compared to the number of people who are posting regularly. If you are a lurker, I'd love to get some information from you to help make this place the best online forum for Classical Education: 1. What brought you to ClassicalU Forum, and what are you interested in getting out of your experience here? 2. What sort of content and discussions would be most helpful and interesting to you? 3. Would you be interested in using the forum as a way to facilitate regional face to face opportunities? I'm sure there are other questions that could be asked, so feel free to ask and answer your own questions. As someone who has greatly benefited from online forums as part of my own intellectual maturity and character formation, I'd love to see ClassicalU become a hub for classical educators (whether homeschool or other forms) to learn and grow together. Let's hear from you, lurkers!
  12. I don't have a virtue poem per se that I have my student memorize, but I do have my students memorize Shakespeare sonnets and speeches. The closest I come (which I may not be able to do this year because of scheduling changes) is to have my students scan, analyze, and imitate John Donne's Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward as we approach the Easter season. It is a lovely poem and has a lot to teach students about poetry (and, I think virtue as well, though less explicitly) Here's my own analysis of the poem.
  13. JTB_5

    Classical Education in the News

    I do think arrogance is a danger--a danger that comes with ANY kind of privilege (real or perceived)--and is not particular to CCE families. Still, the danger is real, and probably worse when it manifests because the common sentiment stands opposed to CCE.
  14. I don't do a very good job of balancing my reading, unfortunately. Here's what I have typically going on (more or less regularly): A book on parenting. A book club book (usually literature, but sometimes history, theology, or philosophy, etc.). A disciplinary book (I teach rhetoric). A bible study book (usually a commentary on a book of the Bible). A random "catches my fancy" book. As for books from non-CCE folk that have had the biggest impact, I'd say Plato, simply because I've read and reread a few of his dialogues that touch directly and fundamentally on the problems of knowledge/virtue: how to attain them and pass them on. One day, if I ever get around to it, I'd like to write a book on pedagogy using Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus.
  15. JTB_5

    Classical Education in the News

    You are a kinder person than I am, Karen.
  16. Here's the list Christopher Perrin provides in his Lecture Hall session on the top ten books on Classical Education (for new classical educators). The Liberal Arts Tradition An Introduction to Classical Education How the Irish Saved Civilization The Great Tradition A Mathematician’s Lament The Abolition of Man The School We Need Only the Lover Sings Desiring the Kingdom The Seven Laws of Teaching Which ones have you read, and what was most helpful about it? Which one would you replace with another choice, and why?
  17. Man, if implementing anything pedagogical were as easy as reading about it, life would be far less difficult.
  18. JTB_5

    Classical Education in the News

    My first response: ignore it (but I realize that's probably not the best response). There are a lot of problems with the essay: 1. The writer is responding to and interpreting a tweet and drawing generalizations that go well beyond the scope of what a single tweet implies. 2.The writer is basing the entirety of her criticisms of Latin and poetry memorization on her own personal experience. One anecdote does not indicate a general trend. 3. I don't know of any classical educator who would classify G.A. Henty as an author of any "great books." The writer seems to conflate "good" literature that homeschool or classical school students might read and "great books" of the Western Tradition. 4. Even if the writer didn't make this conflation, she seems to reject books that don't talk about (or aren't written by) contemporary socio-political-cultural identities. 5. The writer presumes that the current cultural paradigms represent the future, as opposed to acknowledging that books and traditions that have withstood the test of time may outlast our contemporary mores. 6. For additional context on the writer's starting point: I found this from the "about the author": "Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive." I don't think the writer is interested in the merits of the argument, so much as she is interested in renouncing the world out of which she came and has since rejected.
  19. Yes, Norms and Nobility is a greater challenge than the others (though not, perhaps, greater than Abolition of Man, except for the size), and certainly expensive!
  20. JTB_5

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    That's a helpful division, Patrick! One of our teachers has been using some resources that the National Archives have. They are pretty useful for handling primary sources: https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets
  21. Interesting choices Patrick! Have you read any of Douglas Wilson's books on classical education? When I read Wisdom and Eloquence it seemed that Littlejohn was addressing his views in large part in reaction to Wilson. If I were to recommend it to a new teacher I think I'd include one of Wilson's books as well to give the complete picture of the debate (either Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning or Repairing the Ruins). The Kirk, et al. book sounds very promising! I've added it to my wish list 😁 I've also only read half of the books on Perrin's list. I'm a little surprised that he didn't put Norms and Nobility on his top ten for new teachers, but I'm guessing it shows up on his 102 list (I haven't watched that lecture yet).
  22. JTB_5

    First Grade Entrance Exam

    I sent you an email. Please let me know if you do not receive it.
  23. JTB_5

    Sad, Sad Week at Our School

    Such sad news! May God have mercy upon this family and your community. We have lost two dads in our community to cancer, and currently have two who are highly influential who are battling cancer. For the two we lost the battle was exhausting for the families and the aftermath involved a lot of different involvement, depending upon the closeness of relationships. For most of us it just meant being present, helping the students get back into a routine of life to keep moving, and frequently telling them and showing them love as we were able. I can't recall what books the families read to help them think through grief and the grieving process, but I'll try to ask around and reply if I find out. You have my prayers.
  24. JTB_5

    Short but ultimate classical book list

    Antigone is a great play to discuss as an example of ambivalent rhetoric, since it is possible to mount plausible arguments supporting Creon as well as Antigone. It works even better if you also use the French playwright Jean Anouilh's 1944 version, which he wrote and directed during the Nazi occupation. It makes clear references to the French Resistance and Nazi leaders, but both the French and Nazi audiences recognized themselves favorably in their reception of the play.
  25. JTB_5

    Technology for children

    That's a good point. We have probably always had distractions of a variety of kinds--I know I had my own share (like yours, actually). I do think that "saturation" is a bigger issue today than twenty years ago.