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Everything posted by JTB_5

  1. Sometimes the best thought experiments for coming up with good ways of arguing are to identify the bad arguments that one is tempted to make through hasty or slothful thinking. Educators serve on the vanguard of battling against the dehumanizing effects of modern education and advancing the humanizing effects of classical and Christian education. In this battle it is tempting to resort to the tactics of the opposing educational system because we see such tactics winning over parents and families--even those parents and families that would fit best within our schools or co-ops. In an effort to avoid the traps of using bad arguments for a good cause, this thread intends to catalogue some common bad arguments that classical educators use to defend or advance the cause. Here's a procedure I propose: 1. State the bad argument (in its common, but clearest form) 2. Identify at least one major flaw in the argument. 3. Propose an alternative argument to replace it. I'll get things going: 1. Bad argument: Classically educated students score higher on SAT and ACT tests than other students, therefore they have a better chance to earn scholarships to Universities. 2. One major flaw: While this argument is true, and highly relevant to parents, it contains a hidden assumption about what ought to motivate parents to have their children classical educated. The goal of classical education remains drawing humans into the divine, and few Universities continue to promote that same goal. By emphasizing tests scores and scholarships, classical educators implicitly promote University education, which in most cases stands diametrically opposed to classical education. 3. Alternative: Classically educated students perform well in a variety of assessments because they are submitted to wisdom beyond their own limits and the limits of their age; cultivating perspective that allows them to see their own flaws and mistakes, and solve them with truths and habits that draw them and those around them into a more excellent way. Your turn!
  2. Here's another one: 1. Bad argument: Classical and Christian education provides a safe place for children to grow and learn instead of being subjected to the bullying and secular conditioning of public schools. 2. One major flaw: While it is true that Classical and Christian education is safer from violence and bad influences than public schools, being motivated by fear of alternatives does not provide the impetus to receive the goods that Classical and Christian education offers. Treating Classical and Christian education as a haven turns it into a place of retreat or refuge, instead of viewing it as a calling to guard and advance Western Christian heritage. 3. Alternative: Classical and Christian education forms humans in the forge of Western Culture: firing them in time-tested truths, tempering them in the wisdom of our forefathers, forging them in beauty, galvanizing them in goodness, that they may bulwark against buffeting winds of cultural change and break the vices that constrain the glory of man.
  3. What do you consider to be the most important Bible/Theology Curriculum during the Rhetoric stage? Is it Apologetics? Is it knowledge of the various Church traditions/denominations? Is it systematic and biblical theology? Is it historical theology and the development of doctrine? Is it church history and exposition of the major councils? Is it a combination of these or something else entirely?
  4. JTB_5

    Bible/Theology Curriculum

    Regarding your concern in the last paragraph, the short answer is yes, I've seen the same trend in inferior biblical knowledge. We've made some changes (and will be continuing to make more) to ameliorate the problem, but I do suspect the best classical educators can do is stall the retreat--the bulk of the burden falls upon churches and families to be reading and teaching the Bible in their own spheres. One of the things we've done is to treat 7th and 8th grade years as logic-level reviews of their grammar curriculum -- Biblical and Church history. There is so little time in grammar school spent on these things in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn't make sense to expect a 10th grader to remember the details of the Great Schism if the only time they have learned about it was during two to five days of instruction in a 4th grade classroom. I'm not sure how to gain greater and more varied exposure over the course of the entire curriculum that reaches saturation level, especially if the home and church aren't building on, supporting, or otherwise making use of what is happening in the classroom.
  5. I haven't read The Power o Habit, but perhaps you could summarize some of its best points?
  6. JTB_5

    Literature Catechism

    I can't speak for myself, as I haven't used a catechism (though I've tried putting one together), but one of my colleagues is in his second year of using one and he swears by it. His students say it every day and it takes about 15 minutes until they memorize it (which takes less time than you'd think), and then it takes around 10 minutes. He can then have the students use the material from the catechism in class discussions and assessments, which has worked really well.
  7. JTB_5

    Classical Education = Critical Thinking?

    Modern catch phrases tend to be fruitless. If a students learns how to think in the way a classical education teaches one to think (grammatically, logically, rhetorically, historically, contextually, etc.) then such thinking will automatically stimulate criticism when encountering fallacious reasoning and misconstrued perspectives, and if they've learned any compassion for ignorance and enslavement to error, then such criticism will be aimed at correcting rather than ridiculing the source. But that's just pointing out the different aim, without getting at the "how" as you asked. Perhaps the question could be phrased, "what temptations should we avoid?" as well as what actions we should pursue. A good starting point would be for the teacher to model what a thinker should be, and be quick to correct a student who uses his powers to preen his pride.
  8. JTB_5

    Biblical Rhetoric

    I teach three classes, and they get treated somewhat differently with respect to incorporating the Bible. As a general principle, I don't do a lot of integration, because, although we don't want subjects sequestered from one another, we do like to have a division of labor that allows each class to do what it does best, most. We don't want the rhetoric teacher teaching a Bible class, or the Bible teacher teaching homiletics only. That being said, in one of my classes we also read a daily Proverb and pay attention to some facet of speech (whether it be what we say, or what we hear, or what we conceive in our hearts to say). I have also sometimes used examples from the Bible for essays and speeches. For example, I've used the story of David taking the showbread as a prompt for a forensic essay where students have to defend or attack David using one of the concepts from Hermogenes' On Issues. There are a lot of good resources on Biblical rhetoric, but I do hesitate to apply too much of the classical rhetorical system to the Bible. Unless students understand that it represents a partial perspective of the text, and even one that could potentially detract from the point of the passage, then there is a danger of missing the structural elements there that aren't made manifest by categorizing them as logos, ethos, or pathos (for example). I'm much more comfortable with identifying rhetorical elements that operate more grammatically, like figures of speech or embedded structures like chiasms. Audience analysis makes good sense to identify as well.
  9. What do you consider to be the most important Bible/Theology curriculum during the Dialectical stage? Is it continuing to grow in experience of and understanding of the Biblical story begun in the Grammar stage? Is it branching into basic principles and practice of interpretation? Is it getting into Church history or historical theology? Is it some combination of these, or something else entirely?
  10. I am unaware of the source you cite here, but and I couldn't find any direct references to diegesis in my generic rhetoric resources (Sloane's Encyclopedia, Halsall's Dictionary of Literary Terms, or Silva Rhetoricae). However, the exercise in narration in the Progymnasmata is similar to diegesis. Both Aphthonius and Hermogenes make the following comparison (I'm using Hermogenes' description found in Kennedy's Progymnasmata: Greek Textbooks of Prose Composition and Rhetoric😞 "A narrative (diegema) differs from a narration (diegesis) as a piece of poetry (poiema) differs from a poetical work (poiesis). A poiema and a diagema are concerned with one thing, a poiesis and a diegesis with many; for example, the Iliad is a poiesis and the Odyssey is a poiesis, while the "Making of the Shield" (Iliad 18) and "Descent into the Underworld" (Odyssey 11) and "Killing the Suitors" (Odyssey 22) are poiemata. Again, the History of Herodotus is a diegesis, as is that of Thucydides, but the story of Arion (Herodotus 1.23) or of Alcmeon (Thucydides 2.102) is a diagema" (75). Thus, it appears the narration (diegesis) is a whole, made up of narrative (diegema) parts. The narrative exercises in the Progymnasmata would thus train students in the parts of narrative that could be combined into larger narrations (dramatic, historical, or political; to use Aphthonius' division). For more complicated varieties of narration, I can copy and send the entry on "narrative" from A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z, which includes a complete technical exposition. Pedagogically, it seems, narration is quite different from socratic teaching, since narration does not engage in dialogue in media res, despite its reproduction of direct speech and dialogue. The closest identification of narration and socratic teaching would be Plato's dialogues, which are written after the fact (narration) as dialogues containing a great amount of dialectic method on display (questions--maieutics; and refutation--elenchus). I'm ignorant of Charlotte Mason's explanation of narration, but from within the Platonic method, I'd say that narration would dovetail with dialectic pedagogically. We see this in his dialogues, and it occurs in different orders. In Gorgias there is an opening question, which is developed through dialectical exchanges with five separate characters, but predominantly through Socrates and Callicles. At the end, after much frustration, Socrates resorts to a myth in order to establish ethical force to his unaccepted (at least by Callicles) refutation. In Phaedrus, however, a speech initiates the dialogue and culminates in a lengthy speech that includes a myth, which then gets explained and applied in a subsequent dialectic discussion between Socrates and Phaedrus. The narratives (not narrations) serve to illustrate and support the arguments and ideas, but they can precede or follow in order. As an interesting additional point, it is my belief that Phaedrus, as a dialogue, presents itself as an example of the method the dialogue sets forth, and thus serves as an example for imitation.
  11. JTB_5

    Rhetoric Resources

    In recent years classical presses have put out some very excellent textbooks on rhetoric and writing. Many rhetoric teachers also know (and some make use of) classic treatises or dialogues on rhetoric (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine). I'm sure quite a few folks have also used some modern textbooks that adapt traditional rhetoric (Corbett's Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student and Crowley and Hawhee's Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students). I do wonder how many teachers of rhetoric (including homeschool and co-op folks) are aware of modern supplementary rhetoric texts? Here are some books that I've made good use of as a teacher, and which I've also developed some lectures and assignments from: Silva Rhetoricae (rhetoric.byu.edu) - has good summaries of the canons, figures of speech, rhetorical exercises, etc. Figures of Speech: 60 ways to turn a phrase, by Arthur Quinn - a short, pithy handbook on figures of speech. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, by Richard A. Lanham - a short handbook that includes many rhetorical terms, including figures of speech and argument forms. A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus A-Z, by Albert W. Halsall - a well-stocked treasure trove of literary terms and devices. Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric, by Ward Farnsworth - the best modern treatment of figures of speech. Farnsworth's Classical English Metaphor, by Ward Farnsworth - the same of the figures book, but for metaphors. The Legal Analyst, by Ward Farnsworth - an excellent modern resource for forensic topics / thinking. The Office of Assertion, by Scott F. Crider - a superb treatise on academic writing. There are definitely more, but these are ones I've found most helpful to me. What resources do you use in class, use to supplement what you are doing in class, or use to create lectures/assignments?
  12. JTB_5

    Rhetoric Resources

    I've had the same questions, Karen, and I don't have any great answers, unfortunately. The universal nature of education in our day is unprecedented in history. The classical and medieval educational models were meant to serve a minority from the upper class portion of the population. Today classical education offers itself to all classes, and so there must be adaptation of the old material into the new context. Combine that with the fact that today's children are generally less mature than children several decades ago, much less several centuries ago, and it is difficult to set the standard appropriately with the frame of the student. However, I think the current formal rhetoric curricula being produced by classical presses do justice (however limited by our as yet inexperienced application of the classical tradition to contemporary life) to both the classical content and the modern student. I tend to take a more general approach to thinking about the rhetoric my students must be trained to use: few, if any, of them will be statesmen in any classical sense; a few may become political office holders, lawyers, or pastors. Some will become educators or leaders who will need to communicate clearly, vividly, and persuasively. Almost all of them will become parents and active church members who will need to navigate the interpersonal and organizational realms of home and church. The skills of rhetoric do aid in those spheres if students recognize it (whether I emphasize it or not--and I do wonder how often to make explicit such emphasis). One aspect of the Puritan vision was to have an educated populace that could read, understand, and use the Bible in their own households as well as in the community of the Church under the authority of the elders. Their efforts produced one of the most industrious cultures in history despite its decline into secularism. I hope that classical educators share something of that same vision--to see all of our students, our children, well educated into their Christian and Western heritage that they may rebuild, maintain, and defend it even if they find themselves in vocations that are not stately or academic.
  13. JTB_5

    Rhetoric Resources

    Classical rhetoric curriculum began after the Grammaticus completed preliminary training, say, around 14 or 15 before a pupil would be tutored by a rhetorician. The Progymnasmata content would have come first, and then more fully formed exercises in forensic and deliberative speech. But even with this, rudimentary is a good fit for what the pupil would have been able to gain, since the telos of education was a fully formed rhetor--something that required experience in the assembly. For contemporary students, I think that exposure to the tools is a good goal, with imitation and practice with the tools being more heavily emphasized than understanding all of the theoretical parts and distinctions. Like most practical arts, a deep understanding of the tools and theories comes through experience using them. A 17 or 18 year old can "get" Aristotle, but not so much by reading him as putting his tools into practice through speaking and analysis of speeches. That's how I've come to see it over my years of teaching it to high schoolers and college students. I'll add that if a classical program (homeschool or meeting school) doesn't teach rhetoric across the curriculum isn't following the classical model very carefully. The formal classes just serve to make explicit, emphasize, and more acutely train what students should be exposed to throughout.
  14. We have a faculty member doing a PhD at Faulkner right now through a distance program. He speaks well of it. We also have a faculty member who did an MA at the University of Dallas and he speaks highly of their program and teachers. Given their comments, I'd second Cheryl's comments.
  15. Here's some additional context for consideration. Tripp has used an anecdote before that perfectly fits the idea of liturgical training. He says that when he was a kid, his mom made him sweep the kitchen. He didn't enjoy it, but it was his chore, and his mom was faithful to make him do it again and again, without fail. At one point in his adulthood someone made a mess in the kitchen and he found himself automatically going to the broom closet to get a broom. He says that he realized that he had been trained by the habit into doing the right thing automatically, without complaint. So I would hesitate to say that Tripp believes all training comes about by conversations about the heart. He is mainly attacking those who would seek to gain righteousness through behaviorism. I also would hesitate to claim that Tripp thinks he can see into a child's heart. I'm sure he falls prey to the natural fallen human temptation to impute motive when offended, but as a matter of principle his method isn't SIMPLY approaching the child with a predetermined plan of what sin the child is guilty of in order to train the child how to recognize his own sinful motives. Certainly there are many cases where the motives of a child are plain, and I think he's aiming at those kinds of scenarios with a lot of his teaching. You don't teach a rule only using exceptions to it. At the same time, I do think Tripp's method gets conveyed far more simplistically than it really is to put into practice. For me, the most difficult part of handling my own child's sin is making sure that I've got control of my own pride and contempt. I don't want them to sin, and I don't want my expectations unmet, and if those things aren't mortified, I'm never going to be effective in helping my child get to the heart of what's motivating them, because I'm going to be focused by what motivating me, which isn't righteousness or a desire for truth. Tripp is helpful on that point, though he isn't always rhetorically sensitive in making that point. Similarly, I've had some correspondence with Jenny Rallens about some of the liturgical aspects of her classroom, and some of the things she is able to do require a great amount of preparation of the students as well as the teacher. Some of that has to do with the fact that some structural aspects are invisible and operate benignly (a student doesn't have to know why he raises his hand in order to speak, though it can be good to know why), while others are manifest and must be trained (students will engage in disagreement during discussion, but they must understand what disagreement is, why it is useful, how it can be done wrongly, etc. in order to make the structure of discussion work toward the liturgical end).
  16. JTB_5

    Rhetoric Resources

    Good question. I have gone back and forth with reading classical sources. I've never had them read Aristotle in his entirety, though we've read portions (it is just too much of a slog for students). I lecture Aristotle these days. I used to read the entirety of Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus, but this year I lectured and only read portions. We read Gorgias' Encomium of Helen as an example of Sophistic elements of argument and style. I've used the Ad Herennium as well in portions. I also used portions of Cicero's De Oratore for theory and his Pro Murena as an example of classical speech. All of these have garnered mixed results. This year I've turned more toward using examples for imitation. I've tried to have students write 750-1000 word speeches imitating a forensic, deliberative, and epideictic speech. I usually give them about two weeks in which we read, discuss, and then they write (eight 50-min periods). Here are the speeches I've used or am planning to use: Chrysostom's Eulogy of St. Ignatius Aristides' Apology before Emperor Hadrian Urban II Speech at the Council of Clermont Booker T Washington's Speech to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition Eugene Debs' Speech to the Supreme Court FDR's Four Freedoms As you can see it is eclectic and spans a lot of ages. These do not follow the classical structure, but there are elements that I draw out in particular for them to imitate, some of which are structural, some of which are stylistic, and some of which are argument forms. I have them adapt the speeches' original themes to things in their realm of experience or imagination as well. Dr. Buhler posted some excellent ideas for composition/speech in another thread I started called "Rhetoric with Substance" that you might find useful.
  17. Our school has also used bother of these resources for teacher development. It has been a few years since we did so, so I'm relying upon recollection more than recent review. I do think that Tripp puts a heavy emphasis upon "getting to the heart" and in ways that don't always work well with younger children, who remain largely unaware of their motives. To be honest, some of his introspective focus doesn't fit with adults, as our own motivations remain unknown to us in many cases (and are often habitual). At the same time, I don't think that Rallens emphasis upon liturgy excludes "getting to the heart." Smith, in his book, says that he assumes the necessity of internal conviction, but sees liturgy as an "outside" way of affecting the "inside". In short, I think there are ways of reading both sources that can allow them to be harmonized, even if Tripp or Rallens found reason to dispute each other's particular claims. Does that make sense?
  18. JTB_5

    Rhetoric with Substance

    Thank you very much for this list of ideas. I am always looking for great writing assignments, and these look wonderful. I appreciate it! Edit: I wrote "writing," but of course debating with these would be just as good. Thanks again!
  19. I've taught Rhetoric in some capacity for about a dozen years, and ten of those in classical education. One of the enduring difficulties of teaching students to speak well has been helping them have beautiful style that isn't just fluffy nonsense or pandering to a like-minded crowd. Admittedly, I find my own writing often lacks the sort of substance I want for it, so perhaps it is a problem in the teacher as much as in the students, yet it is frustrating to try to give good feedback when students are technically doing fine, but don't really have anything meaningful to say. Am I alone in this difficulty? In recent years I've been trying to draw upon some specific sources to help me get more out of students than their maturity and my own limitations afford. I've turned to Shakespeare mostly, but even this year I'm doing more imitation exercises of substantial speeches rather than prompts that draw more heavily upon student reserves. I have been pleased with how the students gain facility with the style and delivery of Shakespeare, though I don't know to what extent their own writing or speaking has been influenced by the bard. What are some strategies you use to help students speak with substance and not just with shimmer or shine?
  20. JTB_5

    Distracted from Delight

    I think the words of Deuteronomy 6 apply well to the consideration of cultivating virtue: "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." There is teaching that goes on continually in the most mundane moments of life, and that constitutes formation. Later in the chapter it also indicates that all of the liturgies that God commands shall serve as prompts for teaching: when the children ask "why do we do these things" the parents narrate the history of God's salvation in the Exodus. The pedagogy arising out of Deuteronomy six is thorough, proactive, and responsive: it prepares for and responds to every situation, it provides habits that prompt further explanation upon maturation, and it does so in the context of God's ordination (His law and commandments applied to the circumstances into which He brings His people).
  21. JTB_5

    Rhetoric Resources

    I want to add another resource that has been particularly helpful for me since I use a lot of Shakespeare for student recitations. Playing Shakespeare by John Barton. There is a book (which I have but isn't as helpful) and a DVD series. The DVD series is a bit hard to come by, although YouTube has (or had at one time) videos from the series. It is basically John Barton laying out his philosophy of how to direct actors in Shakespeare plays. He covers the traditions of acting (Elizabethan and Modern), the use of verse, language and character, use of prose, set speeches and soliloquies, use of sonnets, irony and ambiguity, passion and coolness, rehearsal, exploring character, contemporary appropriation of or response to Shakespeare, and poetry. It is marvelously helpful in getting students to move beyond generalizations of emotion or intention in the speeches from Shakespeare that I have them recite, and I believe it pays dividends beyond those imitations into their original speeches as well, as they think about the sort of intention and emotion they want to illicit with their words.
  22. Isocrates is a great read, and presents a different picture than you get from Aristotle and Plato. He strikes me as more of a Cicero-like statesman. I've read all of the original sources (except for Quintilian, of whom I've only read portions), and portions of the historical sources on particular topics of interest. As for the last two, it depends on what you are interested in. The Clark book is broad and gives a good overview of the place of rhetoric in the entire educational program of Greece and Rome over a large period of time. The Russell book more narrowly focuses on the way declamation exercises worked and what they meant for the education and culture of Greece. If you are looking for potential rhetoric exercises, I'd go with Russell, but if you want a big picture of the place of rhetoric in education, I'd go with Clark.
  23. JTB_5

    American Literature Texts

    I don't teach literature at our school, but my colleagues have their favorites. One teacher loves teaching Hemingway, another loves teaching Golding's Lord of the Flies (British, but modern). One teacher enjoys The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird, though I think we've only done those as extra curricular books. Our younger students read The Call of the Wild and a couple of Twain books.
  24. I'll add a few classical period texts that are about education: Isocrates' Antidosis Plato's Republic Quintilian's Institutes of Oratory Tacitus' Dialogue on Orators provides good context on education after the Roman Republic has collapsed. A couple of good historical sources that are helpful to know what the classic period education looked like are: Education in Ancient Rome by Stanley F. Bonner Education in Antiquity by H. I. Marrou Rhetoric in Greco-Roman Education by Donald L. Clark Greek Declamation by D. A. Russell