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Donald Hess

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Everything posted by Donald Hess

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Sweetness & Light = Beauty & Truth?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Donald Hess

    Making Connections

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

    Making Connections

    Excellent timing! I was planning on drafting a syllabus for my human anatomy course today and put into writing some of my ideas regarding content and laboratory work. Instead, I've copied your post and all the quotations and will sit with them for a while. This much I know, that the primary question I'd like to explore with my students is this: If man and woman were made I the image of God, what will our study of the human body reveal about Him. As an initial "laboratory" exercise, I may invite an art teacher to provide some basic instruction on portrait drawing and then have the students draw a self-portrait. Does that sound like something Charlotte would do? It has been over 15 years that I've read anything written by her. Now that I've added to your reading list, perhaps you could return the favor. Any recommendations? Keep in mind that my students will be high8school level homeschoolers. I feel like I've entered into a greater conversation...one that touches on relations among philosophy, poetry, science and the arts. I would regard relations to encompass not only discreet bodies of knowledge, but also relationships among people. I see that you frequently post on this forum; I commend you for your efforts keeping the conversations alive.
  17. Donald Hess

    Making Connections

    Thanks for your response, Karen, and sorry it's taken me so long to post a reply. I am now reading Coleridge's Biographia Literaria alongside Owen Barfield's What Coleridge Thought, which is kind of a commentary on Coleridge's philosophy. Interesting that Coleridge influenced Charlotte Mason. I've discovered several literary connections to Coleridge. For instance George Macdonald devotes a whole chapter in his novel There and Back to a conversation about the Rime. And C.S. Lewis references him early on in the Abolition of Man You are so right, for the most part Coleridge is not easy to read. Thanks for posting the quotes. Classic Coleridge prose where he contrasts the meanings of two words. I particularly like your last words: Education is the science of relations. Question: In what sense are you using the word "science" in that statement? The reason I ask is that I am preparing to teach a course on human anatomy and physiology next year and would like to relate it to other disciplines. I recalled da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man and was surprised to learn that he was an anatomist who rendered many exquisite drawings of the body. What a great place to start teaching this course!
  18. Donald Hess


    I just finished the course. This is the Intro to Philosophy that I wish I had as an undergraduate. It was much more valuable for me to learn about major philosophical questions than to be overwhelmed with a long list of names of famous philosophers. I'd like to "hit the rewind button" and watch the lectures again in order to better understand what I've learned. Thank you, Dr. Schenk!
  19. Natural evil could be explained via the FWD as follows: The natural world became corrupted when Adam and Eve ate the fruit. There would be no need to invoke fallen angels.
  20. I’m a physician, not a philosopher, although lately I’ve noticed that medicine and philosophy often interface, particularly in the realm of diagnosis. The difference between an observational v. a conceptual question is demonstrated by the questions asked during a patient/physician encounter. Patients experience unsettling symptoms and will ask their physician an empirical question, “What’s wrong with me?” The physician will examine the patient, gather more data, and transform the patient's question into a conceptual question “What is the diagnosis?” But on closer reflection, even that question could be regarded as an empirical question in that it is based on the physician’s observations seen through the lens of learned diagnostic concepts. This shows how easy it is to confuse observational and conceptual questions. Perhaps in this case a better example of a purely conceptual question would be, if the diagnosis is diabetes, “What is diabetes?” Even so, the diagnostic entity of diabetes has changed over the years as the result of scientific observations. Nevertheless, physicians must remember to first communicate their diagnosis as an empirical, not conceptual, explanation to their patient’s question.
  21. Donald Hess

    Why study poetry?

    Why study poetry? Poetry helps me think metaphorically. This enables me to see connections among all sorts of things.