Great Teachers Making Their Point

The thing about Hallmark cards is that they are too obvious in their intent. To say something profound in such a way that the auditor actually hears it, you cannot say it obviously. If you do, you reduce it to a mere analytical statement, a statement on which they can probably act – but the action won’t require an actual understanding.

Some people take offense at this idea. They are straight talkers, they say, and I honor that. But straight talk can only take you so far if you are a teacher. Sometimes you have to use misdirection, not to manipulate but to ensure that the student is doing his own thinking. You can’t understand something any other way. That is why, after all, our Lord used parables and it is why every great teacher in the history of the world has always used statements that are not obvious. Sometimes they even deliberately contradict themselves so the student has to deal with the tension that creates.

Teacher’s must make their point clearly.

How to Read Poetry (again)

Earlier I mentioned things like the music and the images used in a poem and then a third thing (maybe I’ll call it the connotations). But what needs to precede all of that is that the poet has something to say. It’s conceivable that he could use mediocre music and less than perfect imagery and still write a good poem because what he is revealing carries so much weight in and of itself.

This is particularly true of a poem that speaks to an individual. For example, I might come across the notoriously manufactured Hallmark section at Target and find a verse that expresses something I feel for my wife or child. It is unlikely that we are looking at a good poem, but it might just fit the bill.

 But I doubt it could happen very often. Furthermore, if Hallmark expresses my emotions well, I probably need to cultivate, refine, and better understand that particular emotion.

To summarize, the purpose of a poem is to verbally embody an idea effectively. If the idea (which includes the subjective feelings attached to the idea) is effectively expressed in words it will be because the poet has made effective and appropriate use of music and images (and that third thing).

Welcome aboard Mr. Phillips

The picture doesn’t do justice to the suave good looks of our new blogger Brian Phillips, but it begins to capture some of the authority in his bearing. Brian has recently joined the CiRCE staff as a part time Executive Assistant and his help has already proved invaluable. He’s hard at work improving the look of the LTW pages on the web site. Hopefully over the next few weeks you’ll continue to see a more attractive appearance, more useful content, and an easier to use web site.

In addition, you can anticipate Blogs by Brian in the coming days.

Brian teaches at the upper school at Covenant Classical and I regard him as a rising star in the Christian classical ferment, er, firmament. It’s an honor to have him on the CiRCE team!

What Is Education

Education IS the cultivation and development of the faculties of the person being educated, especially those that are uniquely human. For this reason, the arts and music, literature and history, languages and the natural sciences, philosophy and theology ARE the content of education. None of them is an elective. To the extent that anybody lacks in any of these areas, to that extent his human faculties have not been cultivated and therefore to that extent I am not educated.

The point is not, in the end, to know about the subjects but to cultivate the human faculty that enables the subject. The danger of the preceding statement is in reaction, as though there is a dichotomy presented.