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Donald Hess

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Everything posted by Donald Hess

  1. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    You're right Karen, you got us started with these two questions: We've gathered a lot of "pollen" ever since, and perhaps it's time to start making honey. After perusing the subsequent posts, here is what I collected: 😧 A pedagogy of wonder is rooted in questioning C :Teaching children how to question in contemplation, in submission to a thing first, in delight of mystery, and in submission to maybe not finding the "answer" or the whole of the matter… K: I think the act of wonder, on the inside, is a little bit like getting on your knees. 😧 If a pedagogy of wonder is rooted in questioning, then what kind of questioning? 😄 We have lost the art of dialectic and the pursuit of a conversation that may not end up with "one side's" insight "winning" over the other. Just a meandering of wonder, delight, or inquiry is missing in some of our deep conversations. How do we win it back? J: Questioning is rhetorical, and being rhetorical, questioning is particular, and being particular questioning requires a context. K: I sort of feel like the root question in wonder is "what does it mean?" J: How does one use questions that inspire wonder rather than defensiveness/fear? To that I still maintain that thinking rhetorically is helpful, because it accepts the possibility that a soul may need something other than "the questions wonder asks" in order to be provoked to wonder. K: From a pedagogical standpoint, do you think our hyper-focus on assessment is a help or a hindrance? Can we leave our students alone long enough for wonder to do its work? J: …most activities need a form of assessment, but the form must match the purpose of the activity….I think that a certain kind of assessment gets naturally evoked from the right line of questioning. ************************************ Here is my summary: A teacher skilled in the pedagogy of wonder would... Recognize the wonder that is inherent in their students Ask questions that cultivate wonder while avoiding questions that impede wonder Facilitate respectful, dialogical, classroom conversations Consider context and think rhetorically Allow sufficient opportunity for wonder to do its work and then assess their students accordingly
  2. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    Questions indeed start from somewhere and point conversations in a certain direction. Often there is a hidden agenda, be it interrogation, skepticism or self-promotion. I have found that many times when leading a conversations with students or adults, that when I ask a question, unless I explicitly preface it with a disclaimer that I am not looking for a specific answer, they will be reluctant to offer anything to the discussion. Their past experiences taught them to be wary of questions, that questions are not always safe. If a pedagogy of wonder is rooted in questioning, then what kind of questioning? Poetic questioning? Virtuous questioning? Inside-out questioning?
  3. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    Yes I do! The etymology of intuition is to look at, consider, or behold something. Imagination goes a step beyond what is on the surface. What initiates the first step is a question...like the one you asked at the end of this post: "What would a pedagogy rooted in wonder look like?" I imagine that it would be a pedagogy rooted in questioning.
  4. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    That is quite an interesting "thought experiment"! And profoundly theological in that your question probes the mystery of Jesus being both human and God. I had to take a walk in the woods to think more about it. Yes, modern science, by completely embracing materialism, has boxed itself in with strict rules that only admit what can be perceived by the senses or measured by instruments that extend the range of human perception. Curiously, despite these limitations, it claims to be the only source of true knowledge. And whatever can't be explained either will eventually be explained by science, or else it simply doesn't exist. I am also reading a collection of essays entitled Theistic Evolution. One contributor, Douglas Axe, a molecular biologist, argues that we know intuitively that hummingbirds are not the product of a series of purely accidental occurrences. Intuition, coupled with imagination, seems to be the first step to what James Taylor calls poetic knowledge. It is a different kind of "seeing", one that does not employ a microscope, one that leads to a different kind of "knowing".
  5. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    Well said, Karen. Here is an example of confronting "this or that dichotomies": I am now reading Darwin's Origin of Species with the hope that I can reconcile his ideas regarding Evolution with those of Michael Behe and others regarding Intelligent Design. I may have found a third alternative in Samuel Coleridge's Hints towards the formation of a more comprehensive theory of life. One of Coleridge's interests was natural philosophy and his fascinating essay predates Darwin. The challenging part for me right now is to get a better sense of the historical context of these ideas and how they developed over time. I think that is part of the process of reconciling authors, along with not superimposing my 20th century scientific education into these older texts.
  6. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    A little glitch, I'm sure. I'm still learning how to navigate and use the features within this forum. With regard to your question, you are spot on with your paraphrase. Allow me to quote Sertillanges again: The man who wants to acquire from his authors, not fighting qualities, but truth and penetration, must bring to them this spirit of conciliation and diligent harvesting, the spirit of the bee. Honey is made from different kinds of flowers. This reminds me of the lecture Jenny Rallins gave on virtue in the liturgical classroom that included the metaphor of education as a 3 stage process similar to that of a bee gathering pollen in order to make honey. My problem is that I am continually searching for flower pollen, while neglecting the work of making honey. Keeping in mind that bees make honey in community, I also remember KarenG sharing Charlotte Mason's premise that education = relationship. So in an odd sort of way, perhaps this forum could be regarded as a beehive: We're exploring the countryside and bringing back the pollen, but who's making the honey?
  7. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    First, thanks to those of you who responded to my question about the various versions of Divine Comedy. Regarding How to Read Book: I read this for the first time shortly after I retired from medicine about 2 years ago. When I saw the first copyright date (1940) my initial reaction was "Where has this book been all my life!" At the time I was teaching a course called The Art of Conversation to senior students at a homeschool co-op. I was so enamored with the book that I gave them each a copy for graduation. The next year I incorporated what I called "Adler's Strategy" into my course. Adler posits 4 questions to ask when reading a book: 1. What is the book about as a whole? 2. What is being said in detail? (In order to answer this question, you must first "come to terms" with the author.) 3. Is the book true in whole or in part? 4. What of it? (So what?) (What does this mean for me?) I modified these questions and used them as a starting point for students to write a reflection after a classroom dialogue on a specific topic: 1. What was this conversation about? 2. What was said during this conversation? 3. Was "what was said" true in whole or in part? 4. What of it? I found this to be a useful way to encourage students to actively listen during a conversation, in the same way that Adler encouraged active, engaged reading. Let me also mention that Sertillanges anticipates much of Adler's wisdom with regard to reading in chapter 7 (Preparation for Work) of The Intellectual Life. He expands on the importance of coming to terms with an author as follows:
  8. Donald Hess

    What Should We Read?

    I'm considering reading Dante's Divine Comedy for the first time. My library has several translations, including an older one by Longfellow and a recent paraphrase by Clive James. Does anyone have a recommendation on a translation that I should consider?
  9. Donald Hess

    Routines and Liturgies

    My family celebrates the Sabbath and all of the Biblical feasts. Similar to the daily routine that Cheryl describes, our observance provides a sacred rhythm to our weeks, months and years. This was initially new to us, but over time we've developed our own festive family traditions. We have come to regard our celebrations as "here and now" reminders of God's grand narrative of redemption, salvation and ingathering that has been, and will be, accomplished through Jesus.
  10. You're right, Karen, Culture and Anarchy is dense reading, but I think you got the gist of it. Arnold regards Culture as formative, with the potential to change society for the better, much in the same way that Education is formative. I recall that for the ancient Greeks culture and education were essentially synonymous. "Poetic knowledge" is a useful synthesis of the meaning of sweetness and light. Along those lines, here is quote from Robert Frost's essay The Figure a Poem Makes: As I consider what passes as culture in our day, there seems to be more bitterness and darkness than sweetness and light, more sensuality and folly than delight and wisdom. And then I am reminded of Ps. 34:8: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Taste and see...sweetness and light!
  11. I downloaded Culture and Anarchy from Gutenberg and did a search of the phrase "sweetness and light". It appears several times in the book. In light of Karen's observation that this phrase was also employed by Charlotte Mason and Jonathan Swift, I wonder if it is an (archaic) English idiom that may have been used in contexts other than education. That said, let's explore this idiom by asking others to think of examples of something that they would describe as "sweetness and light". It might be a good starting question for your next table conversation.
  12. Below is a quote from George Macdonald's There and Back. The context is England in the mid 1800's. A country parson (Mr. Wingfold) is tutoring a young woman (Barbara) who lives in his parish. "Wingfold set himself to keep Barbara busy, giving her plenty to read and plenty of work... Among other things, he set her to teach his boy where she thought herself much to ignorant: he held, not only that to teach is the best way to learn, but that the imperfect are the best teachers of the imperfect... When a man, he said, agonized to get into other hearts the thing dear to his own, the false intellectual or even moral forms in which his ignorance and the crudity of his understanding compelled him to embody it, would not render its truth of none effect, but might, on the contrary, make its reception possible where a truer presentation would stick fast in the door-way." We would all agree, I'm sure, that teaching is an invaluable way to learn. But what about the imperfect are the best teachers of the imperfect. Question: In what sense can an imperfect teacher be the best teacher of an imperfect student? Is it a teacher who admits that they don't know it all, they don't have all the answers, but nevertheless they are willing to learn with their students?
  13. Sweetness & Light = Beauty & Truth?
  14. Donald Hess

    Imperfect teaching?

    Jesus certainly was the master teacher, who taught timeless truths via parables and showing his disciple/students the way by asking penetrating questions. I also have concerns about imperfect teachers getting carried away by "strange and diverse teachings" (which abound on the internet) and dress them up in "intellectual and moral forms". Students do not typically feel free to question such teachers, and if the teacher operates in isolation, their doctrines remain unchallenged. This of course is another reminder that education is all about relationships.
  15. Donald Hess

    Imperfect teaching?

    This not only applies to teachers but also to physicians, i.e., the best doctors are the "wounded healers', the ones who have themselves struggled and suffered through illness.
  16. Donald Hess

    Imperfect teaching?

    Yes, I think what you are touching on, Jennifer, is the importance of humility and, perhaps even closer, that of empathy.
  17. Donald Hess

    What will you read in 2019?

    Hi Karen, Great question, timely too as I just added a few more books to my reading list. Whether I actually read all of them time will tell. First I'll need to finish the ones I started in 218. Here is my short list: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Theory of Life, an essay in Selected Poetry and Prose of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Donald Stauffer), and A Short History of Anatomy and Physiology (Charles Singer). You will really enjoy Longing to Know. I like the way the author starts with a proposition and then builds her argument as narrative in chapter format. And yes, now that I think of it, she emphasizes the importance of relationships. She also does a fine job distinguishing certainty as opposed to confidence. Her description of the epistemological process correlated very closely to the diagnostic process in medicine. Regards, Don
  18. This topic relates to the last course discussion between Christopher Perrin and David Schenk. Christopher started with a question How does philosophy create connections? and David quickly noted that philosophy doesn't create anything, it discovers things. I've just finished Lewis' Perelandra. It ends with the Great Dance, Lewis' beautiful portrayal of how everything is connected. His prose in this novel seems to be a poetic mixture of philosophy and theology. I am also currently reading a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In it the author describes the uncanny parallels between Coleridge's life and the character of the mariner in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Evidently, even though Coleridge was well known as a poet, he also had a great interest in philosophy, particularly metaphysics. As I attempted to make my own connections between what I've been reading lately and what I've been learning in the philosophy lectures, it occurred to me that philosophy and poetry are connected. They lead us to the exploration and discovery of the intertwined essence of things. The difference is that they do it in different ways. Philosophy's domain is the ratio; poetry's is the intellectus. I invite anyone who views this topic to explore with me the connections between poetry & philosophy. How do they uniquely enable us to discover connections in our chosen disciplines, our personal devotions, our daily lives?
  19. Donald Hess

    Making Connections

    I found one answer to this question while reading Coleridge's Aids to Reflection. What follows is from Aphorism 1: Coleridge would likely agree with Dr. Schenk that philosophy doesn't create connections, it discovers them. And philosophy, as well as poetry, helps us to rediscover the truths that are slumbering inside us. This prompted me to consider what truths might be lying dormant in my soul. At this time of year, what could be more awful and interesting than the Incarnation? Emmanuel dwelling among us as a man? I suppose it could also be said that both philosophy and poetry, in their own unique way, point us to truths that are outside us, the ones that we have not yet learned. And that's where we as teachers do our part, no matter what it is that we teach. What helped me see this more clearly was watching Dr. Phillip Carey's lecture on the Concept of Truth. You can find it under the Lecture Hall series here at ClassicalU. Dr. Carey is a philosophy professor at Eastern University. It's well worth your time.
  20. Thanks for letting me know about the classical connections to The Lego Movie, Patrick, and the link to the article. I'll check it out, but maybe I should see the movie first!
  21. I am a retired physician who is planning on teaching a new, high school level course on human anatomy & physiology at a homeschool co-op. I'd like to connect with someone who teaches human A&P in a classical setting primarily to learn what materials they use for the basic content and how they integrate the subject with other disciplines. Thank you for your suggestions.
  22. Nicely said, Cheryl! And feel free to call me Donald. I've always wanted to be a teacher and was encouraged when I learned that doctor, from its Latin root, also means teacher. So I'm honored to have entered this community of classical educators as a colleague.
  23. Cheryl, Thank you, thank you for sending these suggestions! I look forward to checking them out. Macro to micro...an intriguing way to orient things. I find it remarkable that once I agreed to teach this course, all kinds of possibilities have opened up for me, one thing has led to another. I initially began by wondering how da Vinci's famous Vitruvian man might be helpful as I prepared. I was fascinated to learn that Leonardo was not only an artist but an accomplished anatomist. I have a book of his anatomical work and it is like I'm looking at the illustrations in Gray's Anatomy. Notable it is that I attended a medical school that called itself the "home of humanist medicine". Why is that I am only now aware of Leonardo's significant contributions to art & science of anatomy? One other thing that I'd like to share is that Vitruvian Man is so called because it was based on the writings of a Roman named Vitruvius, an architect who was interested in the proportions of both buildings and the human body. Vitruvius is also known for the Vitruvian Triad, three important principles in the design of a building: firmitatis, utilitatis, and venustatis (stability, utility & beauty). I have a feeling that this triad will be useful construct as I teach this course.
  24. Donald Hess

    All Things Wendell Berry

    I've read Berry's novels, essays, and poetry over the years and what I remember most is his portrayal of "membership". Therein lies the appeal; many of us long for community. Probably the closest thing to Port William that I have seen on this earth are Old Order Amish communities. Both are "high context" cultures as described by Edward Hall. The difference is that the "glue" of Amish communities is their shared faith which involves a binding commitment to intentionally live together. A shared faith seems to be less of a factor in the Port William stories.
  25. Donald Hess

    Making Connections

    Thank you for helping me expand this idea, Cheryl! All good suggestions. Fractals & patterns, oh yes!
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