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Joshua Butcher

Festina Lente in the Classroom

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I am trying to think in the ways that Joshua Gibbs suggests about covering a book. He says you read the book in class (or together in a homeschool) more than they would read on their own. He stops and makes comments or observations, asks questions, and "waits" to see where the conversations might lead. I don't think he means that a book shouldn't be finished, so there is a sort of tension between making sure to enjoy and glean from the book, while also being timely. 

In math, we "get on the road." So, we may never make it to calculus: that is not my goal in my home. But it is my goal that we proceed consistently and with our best abilities. While we are on "the road," and because we don't have such a strict destination, we make humane and divine observations along the way - especially once we reach abstract concepts that aren't easily made concrete. geometry is especially a fun place to find such attractions, but so is algebra.  

 - For example, as I was reviewing for myself in Saxon's Algebra II, I began to ponder the concept of absolute negative five |-5|. In my mind I was remembering two things: One was some propositions Dorothy Sayers makes in her book, The Mind of the Maker. She was reviewing the differences between natural law (the laws established by God) and moral law (laws established by man that may not coincide with natural law - dress codes, for example). The other thing brought to my mind that commingled with Sayers and absolute value was a heated discussion with an agnostic facebook friend about a news story of an 11-year-old girl who had stolen a backpack full of food, was belligerent to the arresting officer, and tried to run. My friend's outrage was with the officer's light reprimand for using a TAZER on the girl for running. 

I had argued that she broke the law, blatantly, on multiple accounts. He steamed that a grown man, and an official, should have been able to take care of the situation without using a dangerous weapon. I just couldn't see his point, or the reason for his outrage. She was cognizant of her actions and the possible outcome. The Law had been broken. He didn't care about the food, or the stealing, or the belligerency. It was the man's responsibility. I was concerned about bedlam. 

Days, later, after pondering whether my fb friend was just being an agnostic, anti-police, anarchist, or whether he may have a deeper truth that I, the Christian, the Sayers argument came back to my mind and coalesced into: The higher law is the humanity of the girl. Her dignity was more valuable than all the food in the backpack. The officer, and society at large, has been trained, deadened and hardened to love law more and people less. And the law they love is often a man-made mutable policy. 

When I began to spend time pondering |-5| - I realized this helps me see the absolute value of a human being. Whether they are in the womb, lacking a chromosome, or lost their mental faculties, they have absolute value in the sight of God! But I can't think that if I don't understand "absolute value". So, if enough time isn't spent on a math concept, it will be hard to meditate on it's invisible and farther-reaching attributes. 

But, if I had to hurry up and finish those lessons because I had to complete so many in a day, in a week, in a year, in my school career, so I can hurry up and get the right grades, for the right college, for the right job... I wouldn't have thought about the right value of a wretched, or weak, or wrongful soul: Absolutely Imago Dei. 

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