What we're reading (July edition)...

Are you enjoying a restful and relaxing summer? As the second month of the summer break begins, we present another edition of "What we're reading..." to share some of the articles and stories we're been checking out over the summer. What have you been reading lately? Please share any articles you've enjoyed of found intriguing so we can check those out this month!

Included this month: a look at the crisis of boredom in children - and what do about it, exploring reading as miracle, a look at studying Latin - and the notion that it may change your life, one parent's list of things he plans to teach his children, a look at whether classical education can tackle the challenge of fake news, an exploration of whether the memorization of hymns matters (from our own ILS Music Teacher, Miss Marie Landskroener), and more! 

We have a common crisis in our home; it is the calamity of boredom. Our children might even consider it a catastrophe. “I’m bored” is repeated so often it would not be an overstatement to say that these words echo continuously throughout our home especially during any break from school. These are children with limited media time but still children with a Wii and Xbox system, a pool outside our door, multiple games, toys, and other planned activities. Yet “I’m bored” rolls off our children’s tongues with great frequency and displeasure.

As a result, we came up with a clever solution. We told our children that every time we hear the words, “I’m bored” (and all versions of boredom: “I’m tired”, “Nothing to do”, etc.), we would assign a chore to do. It didn’t take long before the words slipped out and thereafter, my kids appeared to find ways to occupy their time. Though it is a clever solution (and a great way to get the house cleaned), doing chores does not address their more fundamental struggles.
— Julie Lowe, "When Children Say "I'm Bored""

One of the superpowers most of us have but often take for granted is reading. How amazing that attending to tiny marks on a page or on a screen can plug someone else’s mind into our own, so that the thoughts and imagination of the writer, even one long-dead, can play in our brains.

Baylor historian and fellow Patheos blogger Philip Jenkins has been posting about a remarkable proto-novel from 1668, The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus, by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen . The picaresque saga, considered the first great German novel, gives us an inside-look into the minds of ordinary, lower-class people in the 17th century. Something like the English Pilgrim’s Progress, the book about a “holy fool” gives us the rarely-documented peasant’s point of view. (See this for Prof. Jenkin’s comments on the book, and this for what it says about the horrors of the Thirty Year’s War.)

Prof. Jenkins also writes about the book’s depiction of reading, as Simplicissimus discovers what a miracle it is and then learns to read himself. His reaction must have been similar to that of other peasants when they learned to read the Bible for the first time.
— Gene Veith, "Reading as Miracle"

Do you speak Latin? You probably do. If you’ve ever used a memo, or got a train via London, or watched Arsenal versus Watford, you’re a bona fide speaker.

Latin is everywhere, even though most of us don’t learn it at school. But researchers in the Classics in Communities project, based in the Classics Faculty, have been exploring how learning Latin at a young age can impact children’s cognitive development.

“There are so many benefits of learning Latin,” Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, a researcher in the project, says. “As well as being an interesting curriculum subject in its own right, it can also support the development of literacy skills and critical skills.”

As part of her research, she has been tracking groups of primary school students in Scotland, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and London. She has gathered data about students’ reading and writing proficiency before and after they learn Latin.

And she says that learning Latin helps children in other areas of life. “Our data definitely supports the hypothesis that learning Latin in primary school is a good educational choice,” she says.
— Bethany White, "How learning Latin could change your life"

Each father has his own list of hopes and dreams for his kids—stuff like “He’ll hit the cover off a baseball,” “She’ll be president,” or “He’ll make enough money to buy me two homes in the Bahamas.” Then, of course, there’s one of my goals: “She’ll laugh at my puns, and her dumb jokes will be even cheesier than mine.”

Clearly, I’m a flawed human being. However, that doesn’t stop me from having a list of lessons I intend to teach my daughters before they grow up. Top of the list is a love for God and His Word and faith that He truly is their Savior, the one whose plans for their lives outweighs all of my own. I pray that in His good grace God uses even my corny dad efforts as He teaches my lovely little ladies the truths that really matter.

For what it’s worth, though, I’ve assembled a sampling from the list of lessons I plan (and currently attempt) to teach my children.
— Jonathan Schkade, "Lessons I Plan to Teach My Children"

The other night I listened to yet another discussion on NPR about fake news, and someone commented that Americans really need to train high school students “how to think” so they have the tools necessary to identify fake news. Another panelist countered with the suggestion that high school students are already learning “analytical thinking skills,” given that their chemistry and biology classes cover the scientific method. Alas, I am not sure we know how to think about “how to think.”
— Joshua Gibbs, "Can Classical Education Help With Fake News?"

We often use music as a tool to memorize things, whether they’re presidents, books of the Bible, states, parts of grammar, the Small Catechism, or any number of other items. The rhythm of songs and the catchiness of melodies make music a convenient vehicle to relay and hold onto facts, stories, lists, and so on. Music in this way serves a great purpose.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why we memorize things? Sure, instantly recalling a fact or name is good and useful and usually speeds up the work that needs to be done. But is there a greater purpose to memorization? Does music’s ability to make memorization quick and easy contain a higher good than simply recollection of fact?
— Marie Landskroener, "Does the Memorization of Hymns Matter?"

Gastronomy is the science of pain. Professional cooks belong to a secret society whose ancient rituals derive from the principles of stoicism in the face of humiliation, injury, fatigue, and the threat of illness. The members of a tight, well-greased kitchen staff are a lot like a submarine crew. Confined for most of their waking hours in hot, airless spaces, and ruled by despotic leaders, they often acquire the characteristics of the poor saps who were press-ganged into the royal navies of Napoleonic times—superstition, a contempt for outsiders, and a loyalty to no flag but their own.

A good deal has changed since Orwell’s memoir of the months he spent as a dishwasher in “Down and Out in Paris and London.” Gas ranges and exhaust fans have gone a long way toward increasing the life span of the working culinarian. Nowadays, most aspiring cooks come into the business because they want to: they have chosen this life, studied for it. Today’s top chefs are like star athletes. They bounce from kitchen to kitchen—free agents in search of more money, more acclaim.
— Anthony Bourdain, "Don't Eat Before Reading This

More and more as I get older, I hear my parents coming out of my mouth and I see their idiosyncrasies in my actions. When I was a child, I would have rolled my eyes at their phrases or “dorky parenty” ways. But now I have to laugh and sometimes even send a quick text to my brothers when this happens.

I wondered how many others have phrases from their childhood that they can either vividly remember or that they have used themselves in their adulthood. I reached out to friends and family and got a mix of serious words of wisdom as well as more humorous phrases. In the volume of responses I got, it was clear that I am not alone in having phrases from my childhood ingrained in me.

Christian parents have gone one step beyond general words of wisdom, and also have ingrained spiritual wisdom and Scripture in their children. With Father’s Day approaching, I would like to honor fathers who have embraced their role as spiritual leader, and Christian households in general. Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” A parent who has taken up this task with diligence has carried out the Lord’s will.
— Rebekah Janke, "You Shall Teach Them to Your Children"