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"We need to adopt forms of moral pedagogy that are faithful to the ancient and true vocation of the teacher -- to make persons into mature and whole human beings, able to stand face to face with the truth about themselves and others, while desiring to correct their faults and to emulate goodness and truth wherever it is found." - Vigen Guroian, Tending the Heart of Virtue That phrase, forms of moral pedagogy, struck me. Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching - the art. Forms that are faithful to the ancient and true vocation of the teacher? - Forms that make our children into mature and whole human beings. Make as in form, like play-dough, fashion. So as my own children's teacher I am responsible for shaping them morally and academically with math and with myth. "Able to stand face to face with truth and themselves and others." In this podcast, On the Importance of Adequacy,, Andrew Kern makes this statement towards the end about the need for children to perceive reality and not fight against it. That is a tough battle. I am finding I am surrounded by the desire to be more than average, normal, mediocre, or sub-par. And I don't mean any of these terms in the negative. There is nothing wrong with being average. But everyone wants to be olympian. I am an average singer, a slightly above average student, a sub-par cook. I can continue to hone my singing skills, but I will never make the cut of The Voice, let alone win the show. So what! In this YouTube, Facebook world, it is a battle our children will have to face to be average and not seek out attention by trying to be something they are not. Fairy Tales and myths often start with average or less-than-average people who have to face extraordinary circumstances with virtue and character. Moral virtue and spiritual character can belong to anyone whether then have talent or physical beauty. Guroian explains about Belle in Beauty and the Beast that because of her great character, she could perceive the excellence of the man inside the monster. I'm trying to recover my own sense of wonder and character through Faerie. How do you in-form young students with these ideas? What practices do you use?
I've heard Andrew Kern say that a course in rhetoric could be taught using Homer exclusively. I believe it, since Laurent Pernot notes that, "I. J. F. de Jong has calculated that in the Iliad, speeches in direct discourse, by number of verses, represent 45 percent of the entire length of the poem," not to mention that the sheer variety of speech forms in Homer's works covers the spectrum of classical genres. Similarly, much of Shakespeare's work comprises speeches in direct discourse. Though I've not read it myself, Quentin Skinner wrote a book on Shakespeare's use of formal elements from forensic rhetoric. The Poet and The Bard display the full language of life rendered most apt and most beautiful (isn't that what we want to bring about in ourselves and our students?). Not all of the speeches in Homer and Shakespeare are imitable, thus some serve as negative examples to analyze and avoid. Good modeling includes examples on every level (good, bad, mediocre). What is notable for the purposes of teaching rhetoric is that both Homer and Shakespeare afford theory and imitation, which can be put into practice--and theory, imitation, and practice make up the whole program of rhetoric in the classical tradition. One of my long-term goals is to construct a one-year course of rhetoric that used Homer and Shakespeare exclusively. In the meantime I'm trying to incorporate more Homer and Shakespeare into the courses I already teach. What do you all think of the prospect of such a project? Any else tried using Homer and/or Shakespeare to teach rhetoric?