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

Happy Fall! The first month of school has flown by, and we're excited to be moving into the second half of the first quarter of our year.  

We hope that you've been enjoying our new blog series, "What we're reading..." in which we share news articles, blog posts, or other sites that have caught the eye and the attention of our faculty. Whether related to classical education or the myriad of other interests of our faculty, we hope that you might also find them interesting, intriguing or inspiring. 

Have you read an interesting article, blog post or website lately? We would love to check it out as well! Please share in the comments section or email us any time.

But the question of age-appropriateness doesn’t apply to method like it does to content. The method used to solve algebra problems is much the same as the method used in arithmetic; in fact, math teachers often present algebra as an application of arithmetic to a new set of conditions. Students later find that calculus requires a similar application of the techniques of algebra, and thus of the principles of arithmetic. The whole point of teaching math is to create the proper mental habits by doing things the same way from the beginning, never forgetting the rudiments of the discipline.

Literature works just the same way. Good Lit teachers show beginners how to identify the parts of a story and the ways they interact to emphasize an author’s themes. Then, they help the students practice this same technique on increasingly difficult stories as their reading skills mature. In the end, students can easily understand the most difficult stories by using the same method they learned at the beginning. The simple questions that make Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge clear to the youngest readers can make Hamlet clear to High School students, as long as they are familiar with the proper technique.
— Adam Andrews, "What Mathematics Can Teach Us About Literature"

There have been entire ages of human history marked by decline and decadence without any living spark, and wherein all that was good of western civilization was locked away in an archive, to be rediscovered only later and in different times. In our day, that’s not the case; we actually have living institutions, however small and poor. And, fortunately, we also have, not just marginal parts of the academy being reborn, but also the primary and secondary schools entering a renaissance with the massive growth of classical schooling. That makes far more difference than even the best college professor could. If you have children who are formed with real imaginations, with a real capacity for wonder, and philosophical reflection, which most schools try to drum out of children as soon as possible. If you have, as we have, hundreds of thousands of children being reared that way, it will be good no matter how awful the culture at large may be, because all of those children are being raised with a brilliant educational sensibility, and also a sense of themselves as being signs of contradiction. And so, they’re not going to be—without knowing what’s happened—to be suddenly absorbed into the mainstream culture. If they are so absorbed, it’ll be a conscious decision, because they’ll think it is somehow better. But, in the meantime, they’re lights in the darkness and very bright ones, I think.
— James Matthew

Millennials may be the world’s most hated generation – at the moment. But is disdain towards youth a new dynamic? By delving into the archives, we found that older people have been griping about young people for more than 2,000 years.
Far more surprising is that, throughout the centuries, their criticisms have been remarkably similar. From complaints that the next generation are both too cautious and yet downright dangerous, too worried about the world and at the same time too self-absorbed to care, here are some of our favourites.
— Amanda Ruggeri, "People Have Always Whinged About Young Adults"

When it comes to children’s stories, an old favorite of mine is The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Being a classic, many will know that the story revolves around three children who discover a long-abandoned garden. The garden soon becomes a place of healing and restoration as the children make it their own.

Beyond this basic plot, however, is a tale of two boys. Dickon, a country boy of few economic advantages, lives almost by his own wits, becoming strong, capable, and knowledgeable about animals of all kinds. Colin, on the other hand, is a spoiled brat who lives his life indoors, surrounded by every amusement one can imagine, but clueless and frightened of outdoor life and creatures.
— Annie Holmquist, "Why Kids Should Play With Wild Animals"

As culinary tastes began to change, gastronomy was also transformed out during the Enlightenment. Food became a spectacle of colors rather than bland white and brown-looking dishes at every meal. French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême “dispensed with overpowering aromas, which had traditionally hidden the foul odors of improperly stored foods,” and favored “simple and subtle scents like orange, rose and lemon.” Culinary manuals and newspapers “were available at affordable prices” to middle class families, “and eating out was a much more common practice than it was fifty years earlier.”
— Michael Taube, "A Sense of Enlightenment"

I would like to make what is perhaps a radical suggestion: we need to rethink, reimagine, and reinstate a different model of family life. At the center of this model is a husband and father whose very success in life is fundamentally, though not solely, seen and judged in terms of what he does in the home. Indeed, a central measure of his manhood is the quality of his presence in the home.
— John A. Cuddeback, "Reclaiming a Father's Presence at Home"

Being a kid is something that just happens, preferably without an excess of cruelty or pain. But childhood itself is an invention, one that’s remade by society again and again. “We may think of childhood as a biological phenomenon,” Mintz writes in Huck’s Raft, “but it is better understood as a life stage whose contours are shaped by a particular time and place.”

In The Golden Book of Wild-Animal Pets, Pinney did his best to invent an American childhood that was tactile, immersive, and misery-free. In his world, no kid would ever be without an animal in their hands, and the worst thing that could happen is your armadillo would get sick. There were no negligence lawsuits, no creepy neighbors, no extinction alerts, and—best of all—you could drop your possum off at the zoo as soon as you got bored with it.
— Ben James, "Kids, Go Catch a Raccoon"