Loving to learn while I teach

Aristotle began his Metaphysics with the claim that “All men by nature desire to know.” He proceeded to support his argument by pointing out that we keep our eyes open. Much of the time we do so because of the pleasure gained by perceiving what is around us.

Schools were established on the notion that learning and knowledge are a good thing and CiRCE is strongly effected by our desire to learn and to help others love learning.

So when I went to Veritas School in Austin this past week, I was excited about the things I would learn, though of course I didn’t know what they would be. But I knew I would learn for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I was doing teacher training. When I do teacher training I both model and discuss one or both of the two classical modes of instruction: mimetic and Socratic.

Teach that way and you will learn wonderful and surprising things. For example, I learned that because an addition sign is a horizontal line crossing a vertical line (perpendicular) and that a subtraction sign is a horizontal line without the vertical line one can say to the child that “the addition sign adds a vertical line to a horizontal line” while “the subtraction sign subtracts the vertical line from the addition sign.”

Some kids would enjoy knowing that so they deserve to.

I also noticed for the first time that two parallel lines are used to form an equal sign because the lines are equal to each other.

I get excited about things like that.

I also got pretty excited when someone pointed out that when a child has an undeveloped soul he doesn’t have many alternatives to the temptations thrown at him. In other words, when a child is little and he learns a lot of history, fairy tales, Bible stories, great music, good dances, etc. he will have that in his soul’s storehouse. Then, when he is a teenager and the meaningless garbage of kitsch culture draws him, he’ll at least have alternatives. He’ll have an appetite for things that taste much better.

It reminded me again of how important those grammar school years are. We must use them to fill the children’s minds with Philippians 4:8 quality stories: things that are true, noble, just, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, virtuous. It’s hard enough to make sound decisions when you are given these things. What hope do our children have when their souls are neglected until it’s too late.

I had a wonderful time in Austin and hope to post a note or two more about what I learned. But I have to take this moment to say a great big “Thank you” to the folks at Veritas and to pray for God’s blessing on your work.

If you are intrigued by the University Model of schooling, the folks at Veritas are creating a model worth emulating.

Thank you!

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