Nowhere Near the Honor Due

Perhaps you have noticed by now that level II of The Lost Tools of Writing will be released to the Cosmos on April 19. If I were to start publicly thanking everybody who had a role to play in the development of this work, I’d be posting for a long time. If I proceeded to enumerate all the reasons they deserve thanks, I’d never stop writing.

My invention knows no limits, not because of any genius on my part, but because of the reach of the work done.

I can begin with the topic of definition, asking the question, “Who is it?” And that leads to a list of names that fills a phone book. For example, the two superstars of LTW II are Leah Lutz and Camille Goldston.

First they studied both classical instruction and classical rhetoric for three and four years as CiRCE Apprentices. No, that wasn’t first. Both had already been teaching for years before they joined the Apprenticeship, and what a lot they had to add when they joined.

This year I can think of many things each of them did, but would shame myself and undercut them if I tried to enumerate them all. Let me, instead, present some types and reveal some kinds.

Leah pretty much oversaw the development of the worksheets and module guides for the past two years. Perhaps you know the old bromide about not wanting to see how a sausage or a law is made. That may be, but if you had watched how LTW was made, you’d have a very different feeling. Leah has an amazing mind for ordering disparate and confusing things.

She kept us all on track without once losing her temper. She gave her time sacrificially to collect and review drafts and either revise them or make suggestions for revision by the writers (of whom more later). When difficult issues needed clarification, her input and questions were always insightful, appropriate, and productive. She wrote plenty of the materials herself, first as an apprentice and then as a developer.

If you remember the first edition of The Lost Tools of Writing, Level One, (which you probably don’t since it was so much less perfect than I had credited it with being!), you will appreciate the leaps, the bounds, the works of supererogation that have been accomplished when you see Level Two. And Leah was the ordering mind behind much of the improvement.

Leah, allow me here to publicly express my gratitude for your amazing work. The world will receive your work with great joy, beginning on April 19.

Because of you, LTW II will be clearer, full of better examples, easier to use, more thorough, more effective, and easier to understand than any other writing program available – even, for now, than LTW I. In fact, because of you, LTW I has been and will continue to be improved in many ways.

As you put it in an E-mail, “The end is in sight!! And it looks like a pretty great end.”

Friends, make no mistake, for the last 125 years our approach to teaching children has undercut their ability to think and to communicate. We are living in the early years of a dark age. Unless a light can be shined on how to think and communicate.

While the classically educated in time past would not think a whole lot of what we are doing now, they would appreciate that we are doing something. A genuine renewal is possible, but only if each teacher devotes herself to teaching the child in front of her instead of trying to save the world all at once.

The Lost Tools of Writing fancies itself a tool box for such a teacher: one who wants to learn how to think herself, and who wants to teach her students how to think, how to communicate, and how to grow in wisdom and virtue even in an age that, in its darkness, reflexively scoffs at such a fanciful dream.

Leah is one of those teachers, and we are all blessed by her commitment to the Christian classical vision.

Come back soon, because I have to tell you about Camille as well. And a lot of others. This could take a while!

When you see the product of their workmanship, you’ll undersatnd why I’m so grateful.

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Don’t forget

The early conference registration ends tomorrow. Here’s a taste of some of what you dont’ want to miss:

  • Vigen Guroian: The office of childhood
  • VG: The Liturgy of Creation: The Melody of Faith
  • Martin Cothran: The Nature of Nature
  • MC: Education: Agrarian or industrial
  • Karen Kern: The Nature of the Moral Imagination and how to cultivate it
  • James Daniels: The Nature of the Liberal Arts and how to teach them
  • JD: The Implications of the Incarnation on Teaching
  • Andrew Pudewa: Teaching Boys and Other Kids who would rather be making forts (what the neurosciences are revealing about the nature of boys and girls and how to teach them)
  • AP: Nature Deficit Disorder
  • John Hodges: The Effect of Naturalism on the arts (whatever happened to beauty?)
  • Leah Lutz: The Nature of Thought: How to simplify and unify your teaching with the mimetic mode
  • LL: The Canons of Rhetoric; the backbone of the Language arts

In addition, I’ll be opening with a talk that sets the table for the other speakers, but the thought that has been invigorating me and causing me to realize how important this theme of nature is arises from the person of Christ the Logos, the glory of learning. Our Lord really can be the unifying principle of all things because He brings together in one person two natures: the Divine and the Human.

And that means we need to think hard about what human nature is.

Can we transcend it? If we can, then we can transcend God, because God, in Christ, is a man. Not gonna happen!

Is it evil? How can it be if Christ has taken it on. The crucial distinction lies in the difference between a state of nature and the essential nature. We are in a sinful state, but our human nature is essentially good. Long after sin has been completely washed away, “when we’ve been there 10,000 years/bright shining as the sun,” we’ll be nothing but humans who “participate in the Divine Nature.”

This mind-numbing doctrine is brought to you straight from the pages of the New Testament, or I’d never dare say a word of it.

I sincerely hope you can attend this conference. Every day I’m more convinced of its importance.

And don’t forget Marcus and Laura Berquist – winner’s of the Paideia Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Classical Education!!

Register by 4/30 and you’ll save something like $15/person while ensuring a seat (they are filling up pretty quickly now that the school year is winding down, though I’m pretty sure you don’t have to panic yet).