29 April 2011

Pondering Next Year

I'm taking a sick day today. I've been treading water all week, and when our Friday activity was cancelled last night, I decided I was going to rejoice in being handed the downtime I needed on a silver platter.

Or something like that.

I find myself pondering next year {while the children are playing Legos and working on their needlepoint}.

I'm excited for it, even though there will be a number of new things headed our way. First, we are supposed to add these things in Year Four: learning a musical instrument, Latin, Plutarch {one Life per term}, Shakespeare {one play per term}, formal grammar study, and using a Century Book {rather than a wall timeline}. In addition to this, I have Daughter A. entering Year 1.

I think I've decided to ease into these changes. We began piano lessons midway through Year 3, so that helps. At the beginning of the year, I'll commence with Plutarch and Shakespeare. I still need to read up on what is suggested for grammar. We have already tried doing organic grammar, but I can see that formal lessons would be complimentary {and therefore helpful} if they are done correctly. Using a Century Book should be an easy transition, as E.-Age-Eight is accustomed to a wall timeline.

And then there is Latin. I'm pretty sure I'm adding Latin last, after we've adjusted to all of the other additions. I'm still not sure what I think is the best age for adding Latin {other than Song School, of course, which we love}, and so I suppose I'm not in a hurry. {Does anyone have other Latin songs they listen to? I'd like to add some more...}

A.-Age-Six will be commencing with Year One, as I said, and she's pretty excited about it. I know that my main focus with her will be slow and steady narration training. This really is my goal for the first year. Naturally, I want her to keep progressing in her reading ability, I'll begin working with her on penmanship, we'll play some math games, and so on, but I have one main goal: narration. If we finish up Year One with a good handle on narration, I'll consider it a success. Having one main goal helps me to know where to focus my efforts.

My one issue with Year 1 is Parables from Nature. I have read it faithfully {mostly aloud} throughout Year 1...and Year 2...and now Year 3. No matter what I do, I still do not really connect with it, and that seems to be the case {for the most part} with Son E. as well. I would say only about a third of the book has resulted in good narrations and discussion.

Frankly, I dread the days we read that book.

I hate saying this because I really do think that education is, in one aspect, an ordering of the affections. We are to learn to love what is Good, True, and Beautiful. I have learned to trust the AO Advisory, and whenever I struggle with a book, I consider it my duty to try and learn to love it. With every. single. book. {except this one} that has happened. Within a few chapters, I have discovered that it was my own insufficient education which caused me to initially dislike the book.

But no matter how faithful I've been with Parables from Nature, that hasn't happened. I'm really starting to think that it is just the writing style. I usually don't mind Victorian writing, but perhaps this is a little over the top for me?

Ahem.

I still fully admit the problem might be me, but I also can't imagine spending twelve years of my life {4 children x 3 years each = 12 years total} reading this book. It is categorized as Literature on the schedule. We read plenty of that in the younger years, with read alouds in addition to the full schedule. The note on the book, however, mentions the teaching of morals, so I think perhaps this was also supposed to fulfill the character development portion of the curriculum.

I was digging around Simply Charlotte Mason, trying to see if I could find another option, which I noticed their Personal Development page. Finally, I think we have a solution! Right now, my plan is to pull this into Circle Time and have all of the children hear these readings. We'll start with Wisdom and the Millers. I noticed that Peter Leithard wrote something based upon Proverbs also called Wise Words: Family Stories That Bring the Proverbs to Life, but I don't know if they are written with the high literary quality required by our standards. {Does anybody know?}

Reading these together will help the children focus on developing the same character qualities at the same time. I have noticed that when they are doing this, they help one another through gentle {and not-so-gentle reminders}. So, for instance, the other day I heard one daughter yell to another across the yard, "God says to share but not to steal!" {And this in reference to stealing from another child while justifying it by telling the poor victim that God says to share.}

So this is my plan {for now}.

Is anyone else shaking things up for next year?

28 April 2011

The Darndest Things: Elmyra

Does anyone remember the Tiny Toon character Elmyra Duff--that well-intentioned, animal-loving little girl? We have often jokingly called Daughter A. "Elmyra" due to her affection for all of God's creatures. We have seen her inadvertently exhaust a ladybug to death, squeeze a frog too tightly, and so on and so forth.

In fact, when one too many frogs reached an untimely demise due to over-loving on the part of our little girl, Daddy adopted a new rule {borrowed from a family at our church}: If you kill it, you must eat it.

Exhibit A

Daughter A. found herself fretting for an hour or so yesterday. She has recently taken to catching finches, sparrows, and chickadees with her hands {see Exhibit A}. We did not realize until it was Too Late that she did not understand the difference between water birds and land birds. She thought she was doing this poor thing a favor when she dunked her under the water several times. Ducklings love this sort of thing, so this gal would too, right?

Wrong.

Daughter A. brought her to the door sopping wet. She was so wet she could not fly, and she was obviously gasping for air. A. was terrified she was going to die...and that she would have to eat her.

Thankfully, she sat the bird in the sun and she dried off quite nicely. She flew away, and if she tells other birds to avoid our property, I wouldn't be in the least surprised.


27 April 2011

John Bunyan for Families

Ambleside Online assigns a number of years to reading John Bunyan {among other things, of course}. We read Book One of Pilgrim's Progress in Year Two, and Book Two in Year Three. In Year Eight, we read The Holy War.

If you haven't noticed, I have four children. This means I should expect to spend twelve years reading John Bunyan (if we count each reading as a year). It's not that I'm adverse to the idea, but I seem to have inadvertently stumbled into a different approach.

It all started when I decided to incorporate the readings into Circle Time back in 2009. It's worked quite well for us. Today, when we finished up Book Two of Pilgrim's Progress, E.-Age-Eight asked if we could continue reading and start The Holy War {which is actually in the edition we own}.

Why not? I already have a bunch of children who have heard Bunyan at all the "wrong" ages. So far it's worked out well, so why not just continue?*

My new plan-which-became-a-plan-on-accident is to read through Bunyan in constant rotation until my children graduate or my eyeballs fall out, whichever comes first. Here is what we read, in the order that we read it:
  1. Little Pilgrim's Progress. To me, this is equivalent to reading the summaries before watching the opera or ballet. Having a general idea of the storyline helps us understand the complex language in the real version. {Click here for thoughts on reading Bunyan in the original language.}
  2. Pilgrim's Progress, Book One.
  3. Pilgrim's Progress, Book Two.
  4. The Holy War.
I'm not sure what I think of The Holy War for this age yet, seeing as we're just starting it for the first time this week. I may have to come back here and repent at a later date!**

For now, placing Bunyan into Circle Time is working much better for me than trying to use it as an Ambleside reading with narrations for each individual child. That's right: I don't actually have my children narrate Bunyan. That might change in the future, but for now I'm just letting them soak it all up passively as we go along. There have been a few times where I have caught them acting out the story on their own time {ala Little Women}, but that's about it.

As I look at what I've written here, I find myself thinking that this might mean that I don't actually read through each item four times. That's okay with me. All of the children will end up hearing it more than once, so I think in the end it will end up being more exposure, rather than less.

* I am totally open to being wrong in my decision to read The Holy War at this age. I'm going to try the first chapter or so, and if I feel like the children are not connecting with it at all, I'll just continue back in my rotation with Little Pilgrim's Progress and put The Holy War on the shelf until Year Eight as suggested.
** I repent! We tried The Holy War and it really does need to wait until Year Eight, so I'm continuing with my rotation of the first three over and over. Good thing I really like Bunyan!

26 April 2011

Book Club: Poetic Knowledge {Chapter 3, Part 1}

Chapter Three is called Connatural, Intentional, and Intuitive Knowledge and there is a lot packed into this space. I'm going to go on a few related rabbit trails, perhaps, by the end of this post, but what I wanted to do today is focus on some of the definitions of ideas presented in the chapter. The first time I read through this book, it was a huge struggle. Not only was it full of ideas I'd never heard of, but Taylor also uses a different vocabulary. For me, tackling the vocabulary was the first step to beginning to understand the book.

Intuition
Taylor tells us that
intuition means the nondiscursive act of the intellect that grasps first principles without the aid of proof by demonstration.
Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of EducationThe word nondiscursive is key here, for discursive acts are rambling, they proceed by the use of deliberate logic and argumentation, and it takes a bit of time to get there. Intuition, then, is a flash of lightning, the proverbial light bulb clicking on over our heads. Once, we knew not, and now we know, and though what we know may be right and true and have good reasons for it which can be traced and discussed, we know because it came to us, all of a sudden.

It is not surprising to us, I think, that small children learn this way. All of their learning appears intuitive to an onlooker. I remember thinking that my firstborn woke up from his nap wiser than when he went to sleep, he progressed in such jumps and leaps. What is astounding, perhaps, is that we can still anticipate this type of learning from an older child, if we don't get in the way of it.

Taylor later adds to his initial definition by saying that
intuition is the spontaneous awareness of reality, that something is there, outside the mind but that the mind cannot help but know.
It is most interesting to note that Aristotle said that
"no other kind of thought except intuition is more accurate than scientific knowledge,"...and, as a result, "intuition will be the originative source of scientific knowledge."
 This makes a lot of sense to me. I feel like a lot of things in my life I first grasped intuitively, and later backfilled with logic and reason--the intuitive experience came first.

Taylor confirms this when he says,
[H]ow well this squares with common experience and conventional wisdom can be recalled in numerous stories throughout history and in our daily lives where the answer to some problem that has puzzled us is revealed exactly when we cease to address it directly.
I used to try to leverage this in college by reading difficult passages and then {deliberately} falling asleep. When I awoke, I often understood it all better than prior to sleep. {I'm not saying I'd suggest this as a study habit!}

Gymnastic
I'd like to read a whole book on the gymnastic mode. This is the only book I've read that really mentions it, though I do think Charlotte Mason talks about it without using this word. Taylor writes:
[W]e can think of the gymnastic mode first of all as direct experience with reality, for example a life lived more out of doors; the difference, say, between a child walking to school in all kinds of weather an being driven in a climate-controlled automobile or bus. The direct confrontation with the most simple realities of nature, the gymnastic, participates in the poetic mode. But the gymnastic can also be seen in more refined circumstances: the difference, for example between listening to a Strauss waltz and actually dancing, in full evening dress, to a live orchestra playing the Blue Danube.
If you recall, Charlotte Mason, in her first volume especially, suggested children under nine be outside four, five, even six hours per day. She wished their mothers or governesses would take them to the country, daily if possible. She encouraged mothers to allow their children to take walks in inclement weather {while offering a proper change of clothes promptly upon their return, of course}, that they might grasp rain and sleet and storm more directly. If this is not an emphasis on the gymnastic mode, I don't know what is.

It seems to me that the gymnastic mode is informing the poetic. The poetic mode intuitively draws conclusions about what has been taken in through the senses via the gymnastic mode.

Or at least I think that's how it works.

Intentional
Remember, please, that Taylor is using three words {connatural, intentional, and intuitive} to better explain the nature of poetic knowledge to us. In regard to this next word, then, Taylor writes:
The intentional order of knowledge is prelogical knowledge in the poetic mode because it knows reality by inclination toward the object in a sympathetic manner, like seeking like, still based in the senses, though higher than intuition, but still far from rational or analytical activity.
I don't know about you, but my first response to that sentence was, "What??"

Taylor tries to help us when he breaks down the word intend for us:
The "intentional union," this intentional knowledge, are the terms used to distinguish that part of man that "becomes" the thing. Clearly, it is not the man in the order of nature that achieves union with objects, but rather the tendency toward (in + tendere, to stretch forth) the mind as it receives the immaterial representations of objects, that is to say, their forms. {see forms below}
Taylor says this as a way of fleshing out Aquinas' idea that knowledge forges a union {and he uses the phrase intentional union} between the knower and what is being known. So intentional knowledge involves a stretching forth toward the form of the thing being known.

Forms
The concept of forms is an Aristotelian idea--it tells us that everything has a spiritual aspect, which is its form. So when I come to know a rose, and I walk away without picking it, I still possess the form of the thing--the memory of it, yes, but to call it a memory is not saying enough about it. I have the form of the rose inside of my soul and I possess it for as long as I remember it. This is not a scientific sort of knowledge, but is rather based upon my intimate experience with the rose. There is a sense in which the rose has become a part of me, a part of who I am.

This is, by the way, why I think Charlotte Mason can say that education is making more of men. As they learn, the things they learn become a part of them, and their soul literally expands. This is what John Hodges was referring to when he said that reading Thomas Hardy will not save you, but there will be more of you to save.

Connatural
This is something so very childlike that I sometimes think I have lost much of this capacity:
To be connatural with a thing is to participate in some way with its nature, as distinct from its intentional form, to share a likeness of nature.
We see this in children, when they try to become the thing they are thinking about. Children act out their lessons--sometimes in large ways, sometimes in small--and the result is that they internalize what they have learned. They begin to "share a likeness of nature" with the thing.

Charlotte Mason was trying to harness this when she had her students narrate every single thing they read. By saying it back in their own words, the words became their own--she encouraged that connaturality {is that a word?} with the ideas.

Taylor says:
It is the habit of noticing what is happening here and now and reflecting with the natural powers upon that experience that cultivates the connatural degree of knowledge.
That "habit of noticing" could also be called attention, though not strictly so {I think there is more to it than mere attention}. A side benefit of narration is that it trains the student to notice--to attend to--everything they read. Because they are accountable for the information in the form of a narration of some kind, they are more careful to attend to the lesson in the first place. Many of Charlotte Mason's outdoor games {found in Volume 1} played upon this same habit. Children were sent, for instance, off to look at a place, only to return and tell Mother all about it. Or in artist study, children were to look at a picture, internalize it, and then try to describe it from memory. All of this was an attempt to build that "habit of noticing."

In fact, Taylor is virtually quoting Mason, too, when he paraphrases Aquinas {or perhaps Mason and Taylor were both quoting Aquinas?}:
given a familiarity with a thing, a habit of its being, the rigors of reason are bypassed and one "judges rightly..by a kind of connaturality."
To some extent, we are our habits. If we have habits of lying, we are liars, for example. This is why Charlotte Mason was so deliberate in habit training--because we become the thing over time.

Mason never used the word connatural, at least not if I am recollecting properly, but I see her encouraging this nonetheless, she just uses different words to discuss the subject.

Poetic Knowledge
I know we've been talking about this phrase off and on for weeks now, but I thought I'd add in a few quotes because I think Taylor is continuing to fill out our mental picture of the idea. In this section, he specifically contrasts poetic knowledge with "trendy" mystical experiences prevalent in the 1960s. So, for instance, mystics think of the surface of a thing as something to be gotten past, something to try and see through. Taylor calls this
radical neo-Platonism where all that really exists are Forms: and, with Coleridge, where poetic truth is hallucination, drug induced, or the druglike effect of a distorted reality.
Poetic knowledge is, thanks be to God, quite a bit more simple that this.
[T]here is the habit of poetry practiced by poets and those who see by the light of poetic experience, whose gaze catches the "ordinary" and sees that the surface presence, rather than to be repudiated as mere matter that veils its airy form, is quite significant just as it is. Here, where the ordinary becomes illuminated, is when the habit of poetry sees something marvelous in the thing itself...[snip]...Poetic knowledge does not describe essences; that is the world of advanced philosophy. Poetic knowledge is the wonder of the thing itself--not the essences of trees but the stately presence of the hawthorn in summer is the stuff of poetic experience.
In other words:
it always deals with the really real.
Why Are We Even Talking About This?
I actually think this is a really interesting question, and Taylor answers it concisely:
Even though both St. Augustine and St. Thomas wrote treatises on education, both titled De Magistro {and there are indeed numerous articles on teaching and education throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance}, still, there is no specific and detailed treatment of the poetic mode of knowledge, no self-conscious attention given it, simply because {presumably from some point before Homer} the credibility of intuitive knowledge was a kind of given in the power of the knower. The deliberate treatment of poetic knowledge by Maritain and others becomes necessary only after the seventeenth century and the ascendancy of science as the preeminent method of learning. {emphasis mine}
As we have allowed science to rule the classroom, we have {ala Pieper} translated learning into the world of work. We say that learning requires hard work, that, therefore, children need to be forced to work to learn, or motivated by grades and prizes, awards and class ranking, the promise of a good college and scholarships and a good job, and so on. In other words, we deny in practice that children can {or even that they will} come to know all on their own. Around a century ago, Charlotte Mason said of this:
It so happens that the last desire we have to consider, the desire of knowledge, is commonly deprived of its proper function in our schools by the predominance of other springs of action, especially of emulation, the desire of place, and avarice, the desire of wealth, tangible profit...[S]o besotted is our education thought that we believe children regard knowledge rather as repulsive medicine than as inviting food. Hence our dependence on marks and prizes, athletics, alluring presentation, any jam we can devise to disguise the power.

[snip]

The work of education is greatly simplified when we realize that children, apparently all children, want to know all human knowledge; they have an appetite for what is put before them, and, knowing this, our teaching becomes buoyant with the courage of our convictions.
Mason was addressing the tendency of everyone--from parents to headmasters to teachers--to try and manipulate children into learning. The poetic mode had faded from view, learning was no longer viewed as natural to humanity, and so the world debated on about how best to motivate children. What she found was that as students were motivated by something other than love of and appetite for knowledge, their character was corroded. When we appeal to lesser motivations, we appeal to their sensual appetites and besetting sins, and the result is, in the end, the death of learning.

And so again I am reminded that the best thing we can do is to stay out of the way and not kill the natural appetite, the natural inclination to know. We feed that love of knowledge, our friend Charlotte said, by
placing books in the hands of children and only those which are more or less literary in character that is, which have the terseness and vividness proper to literary work. The natural desire for knowledge does the rest and the children feed and grow.
Because children can make their own relations, after all.

Poetically, it seems.

_____________________________
Read More:
-book club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-buy the book and read it yourself

25 April 2011

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

Happy Day-After-Resurrection-Day! I completely enjoyed my week off, and starting school this week is something of a challenge. I think I am ready for summer. The weather has been perfect--not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuuust riiiight. Perfect for spending hours outside doing something or nothing at all.

In other news...
  • Please continue to pray for my friend Emily, whose husband is still in the ICU here in town. I cannot tell the whole long story here, and it isn't really mine to tell anyhow, but know that she needs your prayers. Her husband has a lot of tests today, and we have seen miracle upon miracle this past week, but {unfortunately} their family still needs more.
  • For those of you who care about such things, our baby ducklings are three weeks old today. They have officially reached the Ugly Stage. {Bet you didn't know all ducklings are ugly ducklings at some point!} They are losing their baby down, so patchess of dark skin show through, and  one of them already has her voice changing to a scratchy quack. Their big feet are making a gigantic mess of their box, and yet they are not ready to face the elements {or the big flock, for that matter} in the yard. This is time for Tough Love.
  • Even though LindaFay doesn't update her blog anymore, she still updates her shared items, which I read quite faithfully. {If you are interested in her shared items, check out her "Latest Finds" in the right sidebar.} This past week, she shared an article over on TruthQuest History that was basically a cutting and pasting of some of Karen Glass' amazing wisdom and insight. Personally, I've noticed some versions of "classical education" going around that don't actually mesh with what I have read about the subject. They are usually based upon Dorothy Sayers' essay which, though brilliant in a lot of ways, doesn't actually represent the tradition throughout history in its fullness. It's more of a creative application of the tradition. Anyhow, the article addresses a few of these errors. One of my favorite lines was:
    Any educational method that focuses on intellectual development, without considering the spirit or heart of man, is *not* classical.
  • Homeschooling catalogs are starting to flood our mailboxes, right? That means it's time for Cindy's annual catalog rant! So true...and so hysterically funny...
  • Struggling with interruptions during read-alouds? The question is really whether or not interruptions are important? True distractions? Do we encourage children to interact with the text as we go along? Or does this cause them to miss the forest due to their discussion of every single tree along the way? Simply Charlotte Mason posted a wonderful explanation of Charlotte Mason's response to this type of problem.
I suppose that's enough for today. As usual, if you have an interesting link you're looking at, please share it in the comments!

22 April 2011

Good Friday

Who hath believed our report?
and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment:
and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed,
he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul,
and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

21 April 2011

Quotables: Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

 Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred
Did I Kiss Marraige Goodbye?

I've often heard married people say to singles that we won't get married until we're content in our singleness, but I humbly submit this is error. I'm sure that it is offered by well-meaning couples who want to see their single friends happy and content in God's provision, but it creates a works-based mentality to receiving gifts, which can lead to condemnation. The Lord doesn't require that we attain a particular state before He grants a gift. We can't earn any particular spiritual gift any more than we can earn our own salvation. It's all of grace. {p. 30}
I wonder if we can assume that being single requires us to live different from other Christian women who are married. I've thought this, too, in the past--and even wondered when I might need to make some sort of shift to living permanently as a single woman. I suspect that this concept has worldly roots--roots planted during the late nineteenth century when many women were shaking off both the institution of marriage and the authority of God to carve out a lifestyle independent of men and religion. While I am grateful that these women demanded changes in the law that benefit me today--such as a woman's right to vote--I see where they also introduced the model of lifelong singleness that spurned any aspect of traditional femininity.

We want to emulate a biblical model. We need to think of ourselves not as single women, but as women who are single. The emphasis in Scripture is first on our femininity. {p. 34}
Naomi had surveyed her circumstances and concluded that the Lord had no further blessings for her. But God was not finished. For standing next to Naomi was the Lord's provision for material and relational blessing--Ruth. And just beyond Ruth, the barley harvest was ripening in the fields of her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. God's quiet providence was already at hand, but Naomi couldn't perceive it.

[snip] Here we have two single women, one of whom has evaluated her present unhappy condition and decided that God was always going to be dealing bitterly with her...

[snip]

Naomi's experience reveals God's faithful provision for one individual. But this biblical account highlights another aspect of God's loving and wise sovereignty. He works on a scale much larger than our individual lives. {pp. 39-41}

I didn't know I needed a Savior, but that wasn't a mystery to God. I didn't know then that my heart needed to be changed, but that wasn't a mystery to God--nor was it impossible for Him to do. What we can't control, what we don't even understand, is clear to Him. As hard as it can be at times to be single, doesn't that put it all in perspective? {p. 20}

The Darndest Things: Later Morning Thief

Apparently, we are on a roll today. It wasn't even 9:00am when Toddler O. came running to me.

"Mommy!! [...insert excited toddler gibberish here...] yah?" I really wasn't paying attention. I was too busy noticing what looked like food upon his face, and it didn't look anything like breakfast.

"What have you been eating?" I asked him.

"It was nummy!" he said {that is his word for yummy}. And he ran off, all the way into the kitchen, and pointed happily to the kitchen counter.

I surveyed the evidence. There on the floor was the infamous Traveling Stool which has allowed every single one of my toddlers to get into untold trouble and cause untold grief to their poor mother. Said Traveling Stool was sitting innocently next to the counter whereupon I had placed a tray of sweet potato fries.

So I suppose I can look on the bright side and console myself that he was not eating candy like his older sister.

Sigh.

I think it is going to be One of Those Days.

The Darndest Things: Early Morning Thief

This morning as he was leaving, Si passed the piano {as he always does}. He paused and pointed at the bench. "I had something right there," he said, and he looked like he was trying to remember what it was. Si often uses the piano bench as his own personal launching place. At night, he'll pile up the things he wants to grab as he walks out the door. He's in school, so sometimes the pile is quite high.

E. spoke up: "I moved it! I saw Q. standing on it--" he broke off thoughtfully for a moment. "You know, Q. was up really early this morning, around six or something. I found her standing on the piano trying to get something off the top of the piano."

I gasped.

I knew exactly what was going on. All day yesterday she had begged for a piece of the Easter candy I had put up there {out of reach}. I had said no {because I had fed her leftover brownies already--goodness!}.

I sized her up. "But you still couldn't reach it, hm? C'mon. I know what you were up to, Little Girl."

She sat in wide-eyed silent guilt.

It was then I realized I was wrong!

"Q.! How many did you eat??"

"Only one," she said slowly.

"Then why were you up there so long?"

"I was trying to find a green one."

20 April 2011

Book Club: Poetic Knowledge {Chapter 2, Part 2--cont'd}

Because I just can't get enough, I suppose. I'm still thinking through Chapter 2, so it seems only natural to write a second post. {I think I warned that I might do this.}

I noticed something this time through that I don't recall noticing before. It is basically the idea that wonder leads to something else, which makes a lot of sense, but I'd never really thought about it. Taylor writes:
Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of EducationIt is also important to restate that this is all an integrated experience, not occurring in mechanical steps or linked together as a chain, and to remember that this knowledge begins in the senses, touching the sensory appetites, first fear, then resolving to the pleasure appetites--love, desire, joy...
For those of you not reading along, you need to know that Taylor spends the latter portion of his chapter walking us through his chart called Order of Poetic Knowledge. I don't want to get into it too much because it'd take me too long to explain, but in the category of emotions, fear is explained as being piety and wonder. Naturally, there are other sorts of fear, but one important thing that Taylor has been saying now for pages is that wonder--many of us will at least give lip service to the idea that wonder is a necessary component of education--is a species of fear.

Wonder is closely tied to awe {I for one often use the two words interchangeably}, and I was delighted to find in my dictionary that one of the definitions of awe is "fear or dread." So I see Taylor is representing the consensus here. It makes sense to me that wonder is a type of fear, for I view wonder as humbling in that an experience of wonder is a reminder of how small and insignificant--and therefore vulnerable--I am, and how big everything else is.

But we also use wonder as a verb--we wonder about something, which ties that fear to a craving to know. I think this is what allows Taylor to assert that the fear {which is wonder} would resolve itself at all. Wonder is not a stopping point. I am understanding more and more that it is the starting place, it is what gets us going at all. We wonder, we want to know--this is a craving.

Taylor tells us this resolves itself in "love, desire, [and] joy." On his chart he states parenthetically that this is equivalent to possession of the good, true, [and] beautiful." This makes more sense later when he explains:
When Wordsworth writes "My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky," there has been no movement toward scientific knowledge of what has been see; rather, this is the precise moment suspended between wonder {fear} and possession {joy}, for to be-hold is to possess, to hold with the cognitive sense of the sensory-emotional response of near simultaneous, fear-joy; the sensation of one's heart leaping up in the chest. At this moment, something of the rainbow's reality is truly known, but rational explanation alone is insufficient, the difference between being unexpectedly moved by an unknown attractive face--desiring to know the person better--and the desperate premeditation of computer dating. It is the different between thinking about the mystery of a rainbow, and being in the mystery of its presence. {emphasis mine}
To behold is to possess. It is to hold the thing and make it one's own, if only in a spiritual and intellectual sense. In fact, I think that Charlotte Mason encourages taking just this sort of possession when she writes in Volume 1:
Is it advisable, then, to teach the children the elements of natural science, of biology, botany, zoology? on the whole, no: the dissection even of a flower is painful to a sensitive child, and, during the first six or eight years of life, I would not teach them any botany which should necessitate the pulling of flowers to bits; much less should they be permitted to injure or destroy any {not noxious} form of animal life. Reverence for life, as a wonderful and awful gift, which a ruthless child may destroy but never can restore, is a lesson of first importance to the child:––
"Let knowledge grow from more to more;
     But more of reverence in us dwell."
The child who sees his mother with reverent touch lift an early snowdrop to her lips, learns a higher lesson than the 'print-books' can teach. Years hence, when the children are old enough to understand that science itself is in a sense sacred and demands some sacrifices, all the 'common information' they have been gathering until then, and the habits of observation they have acquired, will form a capital groundwork for a scientific education. In the meantime, let them consider the lilies of the field and the fowls of the air.
Instead of wonder, she mentions a close-kin, reverence {which is also a species of fear}. The reverence results in the child considering the "lilies of the field and the fowls of the air." It is in the process of consideration that the child will take possession of it--capture it in his mind, a vision to be carried with him always. He comes to love the things he knows and takes joy in--the thing he has beheld.

Mason talks about this sort of thing again, in Volume 6. This time, I am thinking about her picture studies. She writes:
But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves. A friendly picture-dealer supplies us with half a dozen beautiful little reproductions of the work of some single artist, term by term. After a short story of the artist's life and a few sympathetic words about his trees or his skies, his river-paths or his figures, the little pictures are studied one at a time; that is, children learn, not merely to see a picture but to look at it, taking in every detail. Then the picture is turned over and the children tell what they have seen,––a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road but nobody with the dog. Ah, there is a boy lying down by the stream drinking. It is morning as you can see by the light so the sheep are being driven to pasture, and so on; nothing is left out, the discarded plough, the crooked birch, the clouds beautiful in form and threatening rain, there is enough for half an hour's talk and memory in this little reproduction of a great picture and the children will know it wherever they see it, whether a signed proof, a copy in oils, or the original itself in one of our galleries.
And later she emphasizes:
There is no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, but the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. {emphasis mine}
If the children know the pictures anywhere and everywhere, they have taken possession of it, have they not? They carry it with them in their souls, and the pictures are there for the viewing whenever the child {and presumably the man the child becomes} desires. The children love the paintings, take joy in them.

Again, the similarity between Taylor and Mason is remarkable to me.

19 April 2011

Book Club: Poetic Knowledge {Chapter 2, Part 2}

Well, I don't know about you, but I had Charlotte sightings everywhere throughout this portion of the reading {which seems to be par for the course.} I also had a an idea that I struggled with, so I'll attempt a discussion of that as well.

Ties to Charlotte
What I think I am beginning to understand {once again, for I know I've had this thought before} is that Charlotte Mason is not as unique as we are tempted to think. She is so revolutionary to us because she says things that most of us have never heard. But as I saw Taylor tracing the history of this sort of intuitive, loving experience of knowledge from Aristotle and Plato, through Augustine and Aquinas and the Benedictines, I realized once again the Charlotte Mason exists in a line. Just as each of these men before her offered true learning up once again to their generation, so Mason did not just for her generation, but for ours as well.

So not only does Taylor tell us that poetic knowledge has a great history, but we also realize that Charlotte Mason exists within that history. One informs the other, so to say.

We see where Charlotte gained her wisdom, even in the seemingly small things. I was reminded of her remark in one of her volumes that children needed to know things in reality before they read the symbols of the things in their reading. She gave the example of a poem or story {I don't remember which} about a bee, and the children in a city school did not comprehend it because they had never seen a bee. And then we read Taylor, who says,
Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of EducationTo learn to "read" by first learning to listen to the voice in the book of nature, which includes our own human nature, was the first task of the monk, as a prerequisite for taking up later the book of Scripture, which often contains both "voices" as in Psalm 18. The clear connection is still with us here, echoing what St. Augustine said, that one cannot really read and know the words--the signs of things--without first a knowledge of the things themselves, which we must come to love.
Charlotte doesn't use the word love as much as Taylor, but she does say the question we use to assess the job we have done with the student {as teachers} is "not how much does the child know, but how much does he care about?"

The Struggles
One of my biggest struggles was early in on the reading, when Cardinal Newman is quoted as pitting poetic knowledge against science:
Poetry, then, I conceive, whatever be its metaphysical essence, or however various may be its kinds, whether it more properly belongs to action or to suffering, nay, whether it is more at home with society or with nature, whether its spirit is seen to best advantage in Homer or in Virgil, at any rate, is always the antagonist to science. As science makes progress in any subject matter, poetry recedes from it. The two cannot stand together; they belong respectively to two modes of viewing things, which are contradictory of each other.
This seems to contradict some of what Taylor {and those he quotes} said earlier. Last week, the portion of Chapter 2 we read emphasized over and over that poetic knowledge is for the beginner--it is the proper starting point for all learning. I thought the idea was that poetic knowledge is the foundation, and all other modes of knowledge, though completely appropriate, need to be built upon that foundation to "work" well. But here we have Newman pitting poetry so much against science that I'm a little confused. I thought we were supposed to progress to science {well--where science is actually appropriate--modernity is a huge over-extension and over-application of science to realms outside of its purvey--this I completely grant}.

So tell me: is it true that science and poetry cannot co-exist? Because I look at the likes of some of the great men of history, and I am tempted to say that they can. Perhaps I am misinterpreting what Newman means by science here?

____________________________________
More Tomorrow
-I don't have a lot of time tomorrow, and I realize I've only just begun on the chapter, so I think I'll write a second entry then...
-Don't forget to read the other club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-Buy the book and read along!

18 April 2011

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday {Spring Break Edition!}

That's right: no school this week. I'm already enjoying it. I enjoyed skipping Circle Time this morning. I enjoyed watching a movie last night rather than doing my pre-reading for the week. Etcetera. I don't mind pre-reading, and I'm rather fond of CT, but sometimes a break is in order. Easter comes so late this year that we were all very ready for our break by the time it arrived.

In other news...
  • Please, please be praying for my friend Emily. Her husband is in an ICU here in town, and not doing very well. The don't even have a diagnosis yet! They are a homeschooling family with four children, and they need a lot of prayer right now. This whole thing reminds me so much of what happened with my husband, it's scary!
  • Have you pondered beginning your children on narration, but aren't sure how to go about it? Pam mused about her early days of narrating, and it's definitely worth the read.
  • California passed another indoctrination bill this past week. This time around, the Senate passed a bill requiring the study of homosexual history in all public schools. There is no reason to believe the Assembly won't pass it, and Brown won't sign it. Last time they tried this sort of thing, the only thing that stopped it was the Gubernator's little-used veto. The schools have some individual discretion, but the study is required. One article I read explained that this is the 7th indoctrination bills passed in recent years. I was cornered at church by an old friend wanting to discuss pulling her children and homeschooling them this coming year. I am hoping for a mass exodus...which will solve the overcrowding problem, right?
  • Looking to do some media rehab with your children? Dawn shared this a while back, and I've been meaning to link it here. Here we have it: Dr. Jeff Myers' antidote to the brain damage caused by excessive media use in children.
  • Georgia has a city that is not on the verge of bankruptcy, a major feat for government at any level these days. Check it out: The City that Outsourced Everything. Their major strength? No unions, no defined benefit plan.
  • I started reading a new book this weekend {shocking!}. It's Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley--yet another gospel-centered book from Crossway! How refreshing! I'll post a review or two before I'm done, or at the very least I'll share some quotes.
  • And lastly. If you aren't reading all of the Poetic Knowledge book club posts, at the very least, don't miss Karen's post from last week.
And that's all for today folks. If you have a link you're enjoying today, leave it in the comments!

15 April 2011

Love That Lasts: Final Thoughts

I already mentioned that I started off impressed with the book Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace. I was not disappointed. Gary and Betsy Ricucci wrote a brief little book, it's true, but it was packed with the hope of the gospel for marriage.

But First, My One Dislike Annoyance
Sometimes, I think my calling will turn out to be writing a book called Marriage for the Poor when I'm older and wiser. Surely, a successful marriage is not a luxury item, even in the 21st century.

In a chapter on romance, we are told to "prioritize romance as a way of life." Some of the suggested ways of doing this are:
  • Date nights.
    A top priority for any marriage should be consistent date nights.
  • Weekend getaways.
    Spending concentrated time with each other in a different environment is an excellent way to refresh and refocus your marriage.
  • Celebrations and traditions.
    Celebration punctuates the daily routine with life and color.
    This sounds good, but it's followed by:
    Because we were married in mid-October, we developed a tradition of going away for our wedding anniversary and beginning our Christmas shopping together.
  • In their defense, they also mention watching a certain special movie together each Christmas.
  • Gifts.
    If giving your spouse a new food processor or leaf rake is your idea of romance, you're to be commended for reading this far! Practical items like those should be given only if seriously needed or requested.

I am not against vacations and dates. My husband and I aim for a date night each month, and there is the possibility that I have been known to harass sweetly remind him if it gets forgotten.

However, comma.

This is obviously written by people who either have no clue what it is like to be poor, or have forgotten.

Recently, I read a blog post from a woman musing about her tenth anniversary. She and her husband dressed up and went out; "splurging" for their anniversary involved actually buying dessert at the restaurant. This was all they could afford, but it was an excess for them and served as a celebration of the life they were building together.

I can tell you from experience that when a couple is young, poor, and newly married, the last thing they need is someone pressuring them by saying that, in order to have a successful, romantic marriage, they need date nights and vacations. {They need intimate, uninterrupted time, yes, but this does not necessarily translate into a date or a vacation.} On the whole, we Americans have more money than any civilization ever recorded. We have more leisure time {for the most part}, and we have the ability to spend our money on dates and toys and trips and whatever else.

And we also have an astronomically high divorce rate.

All of our expenditures on romantic dates and vacations and gifts have gotten us nowhere.

I've been intrigued lately as I've been reading through old books. Whether it is the plays of Shakespeare, the novels of Jane Austen, or the real life of John and Abigail Adams, I have been increasingly convinced that couples of the past knew how to have a rich, fulfilling marriage without dates. John and Abigail Adams lived apart for years while he was an ambassador; their marriage "survived" solely by tenderly written letters.

Remember, dates were invented around the same time as the horseless carriage {a.k.a. the car} making the whole concept only a little over a century old. If we say that dates, vacations {which, until recently, were a luxury belonging to the upper classes and the lucky servants who got to tag along}, and gifts {impractical ones at that!} are required for a really good marriage, we are saying that a good marriage is inaccessible to the needy, and I refuse to believe this is true.

Later in this same chapter, the Ricucci's write:
You've probably guessed this by now, but when Betsy and I think of romance, we don't think first in terms of champagne, exotic vacations, dozens of roses, or expensive gifts.
I was actually shocked to read this. That is exactly the impression I had! I was glad to see them backtrack a little there at the end.

The letters of John and Abigail Adams are a reminder that the secret of abiding love is firm and faithful friendship. My suspicion is that the divorce rate in this country is not reflecting a lack of romance, but an inability to be a good and faithful friend. It is possible that, culturally speaking, we have forgotten what true friendship, fidelity, loyalty look like. And how can we emulate what we do not know?

My Likes
Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets GracePlease don't let this one thing keep you from this book! I just wanted to take the opportunity to set the record straight because this is common thing people say, and the worse the economy gets, the more folks are going to feel like "romance" is out of their reach {if we make it dependent upon things which require money}.

There was a lot to like here, and I can't possibly list all of it. Of course, any book which begins with a solid theology is going to have an advantage.

This book is written for both husbands and wives, and there is a wealth of wisdom in its pages. Here are a few excerpts:
I can't count the number of times, during the past twenty-eight-plus years of pastoral ministry, that an individual or couple has come to me with a persistent problem or struggle with sin notably present, yet the consistent practice of fellowship with God notably absent. And so often when I raise with a husband his relationship with God, he wants to focus on his relationship with his wife. Men, there will be no progress in leading and loving your wife if you fail to fellowship with God.

In my experience, healthy and growing marriages are invariably led by men who are consistent and intentional in their pursuit of God. Struggling marriages usually are not. It's just that simple.
[B]efore you look at your marriage union and perhaps begin to labor under the weight of discouragement, remember the gospel and grace. Remember that God is at work in your marriage for good. His love and power are far more effective than your weakness, failure, and sin. Remember also that in your marriage, as in your life, sanctification is both a gradual and a continual process.
Be especially wary of television, that little square thing {or big rectangular thing} whose seductive glow can suck the life out of a marriage.
[I]n marriage, genuine peace does not mean the absence of all conflict. It means that when conflicts arise, they are handled and resolved biblically because loving, pleasing, and honoring God is reestablished as our greatest desire and pursuit.
Jesus taught that a willingness to extend forgiveness is a mark of a true disciple. Forgiveness is a necessary element of biblical conflict resolution.
The granting and extension of forgiveness creates a lasting reconciliation and converts a destructive event into a redemptive one. This process echoes the gospel and is only possible because of the gospel.
Begin with what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. That's humility and faith. The gospel redeems the past, provides for the present, and prepares for the future. In marriage, it is God's activity through the finished work of Christ, applied in our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that encourages and enables us and ensures our future. Every journey must begin here.
In all, I think it's the most gospel-centered marriage book I've ever read. I've been looking to have one or two go-to books on my shelf to loan out when someone says they are looking for a good marriage book. I had basic criteria in my mind: something simple, not too long, written for both men and women, and {most importantly} solidly empowered by the gospel.

This book totally made the cut.

____________________________________________
Related Thoughts on Dates, Vacations, and Gifts:
-Unnecessary Dates and Vacations
-Frugal Moment: Planning for Christmas

14 April 2011

My Totally Awesome Husband

I 'm not one to brag, but did I mention that I'm married to my hero? {No, this is not the tenth anniversary post. That's next month.}

A few years ago, when we bought our first house {read: enslaved ourselves in debt}, Si found a used dryer at a garage sale for $50. Awesome! Fifty dollars was definitely easier on the budget than $450. It turned out to be a wise purchase. It lasted us about seven years total {if you include its two years of dying a slow and painful death, which I do because we still had clean, dry clothes}.

When Dryer A showed no signs of improvement, we started shopping for another used dryer. We'd had such luck with the first one, why buy new? Dryer A was at least 20 years old, if not more, and so we looked for one with less mileage on it.

Enter Dryer B.

Dryer B cost two to three times more than Dryer A, but it was only two years old, and that was still much less than buying a new dryer. Dryer B worked like a charm for six or eight weeks.

And then it didn't.

Pretty soon, it was performing worse than Dryer A, and we found ourselves standing at a crossroads.

I certainly felt frozen. What to do? Risk buying another used dryer? Give in and buy a new dryer like normal people? {We are not normal.} Hire a repairman?

Two weeks ago, I suggested to my husband that we hire a repair guy. You know: Honey, our friend at church gave me the number for a man who can come and tell us whether our dryer needs fixing.

If you know my husband, you know that he is...shall we say...less inclined than most people to spend money. Suggesting we pay someone to evaluate it was like saying magic words. Immediately, my husband knew exactly what needed to be done.

Now, years ago I read Rick's post Thoughts on homesteading: doing it yourself. I might have even read it aloud to Siah, or emailed it to him. But if I remember correctly, at the time we were still a little intimidated by such things. But in the last three years, Si has installed his own sprinkler system, constructed duck tractors, and so on and so forth, and he has...gotten increasingly awesome competent.

So after I said the magic words {Repair Man}, he jumped online. I went to take a shower, and when I returned, my dryer was in pieces all over the living room. Using various websites and YouTube videos, he diagnosed the problem and bought the necessary replacement parts. The parts arrived in the mail yesterday, and right after he returned home from work, he jumped into the laundry room {with his trusty sidekick E.-Age-Eight} and replaced the old parts with the bright, shiny new ones. They were finished before I completed my dinner preparations.

And now, I am delighting in a load of rags which dried in only a single cycle.

Like I said: my husband is totally awesome.

13 April 2011

Rerun: Poetry and Science Holding Hands

This post originally appeared here on February 13, 2008. You can view the original here. Chances are, I edited it a little. I'm rerunning it because Mystie said she wanted to talk about wonder this week, and I realized I had thought a little about it when I read Poetic Knowledge the first time through. This is the first of a handful of posts I'll rerun as the book club goes on.

*****

It's been many years now since we first decided to homeschool our children. Our reasons are different now than they were then. I didn't realize this until recently when a fellow homeschooling mom asked me what got us started on homeschooling. She didn't ask, "Why do you homeschool?" She asked why we got started in the first place. And I had a moment of revelation, realizing that sometimes we continue to do the Same Thing for Very Different Reasons.

Once upon a time our reasons for homeschooling were what I would call reactive. This doesn't make them wrong, but just different than they are now. At the time we saw the overall quality (there were exceptions, of course) of elementary education majors at our university (yes, some of them hated reading and didn't have a clue as to the names of the classics), and we cringed. We saw public school students in our area with a frown on their face when they discussed anything even slightly academic, and we cringed. We witnessed said public school students grow up to be young adults who could not carry a thought, speak in a complete sentence, or read a book for independent learning and enjoyment, and we cringed.

We did not want this for our family. Not for ourselves. Not for our children.

We didn't know much about how we would do it all. I can't say we had any goals at the time, other than to not turn out like the general population.

See what I mean by reactive?

Slowly, over the years, we have come up with qualities we desire to nurture in our children's education, virtues we hope to cultivate, ideas we want to develop, subjects we wish to conquer, etc. In other words, we are now proactive.

We have real goals.

And one of those goals is wonder. Or perhaps some would call it delight.

This is actually very different from the focus on entertainment we see in some public schools. In entertainment, the point is to keep their attention or to make them laugh. Moreover, I think an entertainment focus means that the self is the center of it all. The self exists to be served by everything external to it.

In entertainment-driven education, the self is god.

This is not the same as wonder. In wonder, the self is very tiny, and it stands, hopefully in humility, before a large and awesome Creator. The self realizes that it knows very little, but that it was created to learn and grow, and it delights in learning because this is its purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This purpose begins on earth, glorifying Him and delighting in who He is and what He has made.

James Taylor would call this initial act of wonder and delight Poetic Knowledge. It is something that happens spontaneously. I would add that it usually happens when the soul is left in a bit of solitude, uninterrupted by the noise of the world. Taylor writes:
Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education[S]ince modern philosophies have emerged that no longer regard knowing the truth as natural, or even possible, where what was recognized as self-evident is replaced with a system of doubt, under such conditions, Pieper* says, learning is now perceived exclusively as work, rather than an act of leisure. In other words, the modern idea of learning is dominated by the ratio, and the simplex intuitus acts of the mind are dismissed as irrelevant under a scientific idea of knowledge. There are no "givens" nor can "inspiration" be taken seriously as valid knowledge--all is mental work and the student, more and more, becomes the intellectual laborer. Leisure and poetic knowledge suffocate under the weight of this new scientific philosophy where the way is opened for the school and all its operations to function quite comfortably with imagery analogous to a factory where products are produced for a marketplace.

In contrast to the modern perception of the knower as laborer, is the poetic nature of the human being. And the poetic mode at this level easily merges with a philosophy not yet ruled by methods of academic procedures...

[snip]

Certainly, no one can seriously imagine someone working hard and being proud of the difficulty encountered in falling in love; or of the great effort needed to listen to beautiful music; or of an honorable endurance required to watch an evening's setting sun. When difficulty becomes meritorious is when one will give one's life for the beloved, or will go to great sacrifice to conserve a life that includes beautiful music and the sight of setting suns; but that is only because one has first loved (known) these things in leisure, experienced the rest, the union, and as a consequence, always yearns to return to them.


So at this point, we must wonder about the "expert." Modern education is quite the cult of the expert. And we all know experts work hard to master their subject. Does knowing in depth stand in contrast to poetic knowledge? Will it kill the soul? These questions naturally arise, I think, from this line of thinking.

Thankfully, Taylor clears it up for us:
Of course, there is real effort required at some point in learning, and often great effort is required to learn something well. But this is a situation that arises after the experience of wonder--if it arises at all--and the exertion for this kind of learning is usually in the student on the way to becoming a specialist or expert. And, even in the case of the specialist, the true scientist for example, there would always be the memory of the original love of the thing about which he first wondered. Consider again Pasteur, Fabre, and the Faraday in this light. They all retained the initial vision of the beginner, the amateur, the one who loves.


We can often see this sort of thing in the master craftsman as well. My son loves to build things and tear things apart and fix them. If he became good--even excellent--at this, would he love these things any less? No! In fact, I would say that perhaps he would love them more because he knows and understands them more intimately. Moreover, because his knowledge is driven by love there is a chance it wouldn't feel like work.

At least not like grueling, distasteful work.

So the depth of the knowledge, the science, if you will, doesn't dehumanize the learner if it is built on the foundation of the poetic, of love.

So to my children I say: may you always have the heart of the amateur, even when you have the skill of the master.


*I am amazed at how much easier it is to read Poetic Knowledge now that we have book-clubbed our way through Leisure: The Basis of Culture.