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Finding the Right Words for Christmas

Posted by Jennifer Greenholt
Jennifer Greenholt
Jen Greenholt was an early participant in the Classical Conversations Challenge
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on Friday, 27 December 2013
in Articles

It has been a cold December day and I am sitting inside wishing for a fire to warm my hands. A pot of chicken broth is bubbling on the stove. Tonight, as I chopped vegetables and threw handfuls of herbs into the pot, I thought about the flavorful liquid that comes from bones and gristle. I could use this soup as a metaphor—a word picture—for being tough and nurturing at the same time, or for finding hope after difficult times. Each of those things is similar to the broth that is made from chicken bones.

 

When we are at a loss to describe something—motherhood, loss, grief, joy—we naturally compare the abstract concept to something familiar and tangible, such as chicken soup. A metaphor is simply a formal comparison. Metaphors are implied rather than explained using the words “like,” “as,” or “than.” Explicit comparisons are called similes. The difference is easy to remember if you tell yourself that similes tell you the similarity outright. Let us pause to practice using these two new words.

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Children Who Thirst

Posted by Kate Deddens
Kate Deddens
Kate was born overseas, attending International Baccalaureate schools in Iran, I
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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
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Hwa is thet mei thet hors wettrien the him-self nule drinken

 

Written in an older form of English, the above apparently means something like, “Who can give water to the horse that will not drink of its own accord?” Perhaps the oldest English proverb still in use today, this saying was recorded as early as 1175 in Old English Homilies. We generally use today in the form of “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” Cast your mind’s eye on the vision it evokes for a moment: A man leading his thirsty horse to water, knowing that the horse must drink in order to function and flourish, but being unable to force the horse to take what it needs the most. The man may push and prod as much as he likes, but he cannot make the horse do what the horse does not want to do.

 

This is a metaphor for education. We can lead our children to all the vast array of knowledge we have available to us, we can speak to them, write to them, and ‘profound’ (a word my Challenge IV class and I have coined in a sort of playful elaboration of the word ‘expound’) for them, but unless they themselves decide to apply their time, interest, and talents to the endeavor, we will not succeed in truly educating any one.

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Shakespeare’s Language and the Evolution of Human Intelligence

Posted by Andrew Kern
Andrew Kern
Andrew Kern is founder and president of the CiRCE Institute, the founding author
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on Wednesday, 25 September 2013
in Articles

 

 

I was watching a bit of Brannagh’s Hamlet tonight and luxuriating in the language (some of which I understood) when my dear wife asked for my opinion: “Do you think the groundlings actually understood what was going on in those plays?”

 

I said I thought they did (that is probably a subject for another article).

 

Then she asked for another opinion: “Why do you think people today can’t understand it?”

 

I must warn you, I am about to say something that will sound caustic. You probably want to cover your children’s ears while you read this.

 

The reason we cannot understand Shakespeare or read the King James Version of the Bible or grapple with Milton or almost any poetry is because we systematically school children in our culture to become increasingly stupid. Charlotte Mason uses the term “stultify” to describe what we do.

 

I understand that sounds very harsh, so I need to defend the position.

 

First let me say that this problem is systemic and cannot be blamed on any particular teacher or parent. Those who govern American education at the highest level are highly irresponsible, do not understand the effect of systems on education, and bear primary responsibility for this folly. In addition, text book publishers have profited immeasurably from poor theory, so they bear high responsibility as well.

 

What then is the problem?

Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales

Posted by Tobin
Tobin
Tobin Duby graduated Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Classical Liberal Arts
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on Friday, 22 March 2013
in Articles

 

Our world isn’t clear regarding the differences between fables, myths, and fairy tales. We tend to lump them together into anthologies based on the characteristics they have in common: all of them contain fantastical elements, magic, talking animals, and so on, and all of them seem to focus on questions of morality. There’s nothing wrong with anthologizing them together, but I’ve come to realize that we’re missing something when we’re taught to think of all three forms as “fantasy,” rather than understanding them as distinct genres. Since I’ve been writing about heroes and mythology lately, this topic seemed to warrant some attention.

 

At a Classical Conversations MultiMedia team meeting with Andrew Kern of the CiRCE Institute, I began to become aware of the differences between fables, myths, and fairy tales. Andrew had us read this fable:

 

What "Should" One Do?

Posted by Andrew Kern
Andrew Kern
Andrew Kern is founder and president of the CiRCE Institute, the founding author
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on Tuesday, 29 January 2013
in Articles

[T]he ethical question “What should one do?”…elicits not only knowledge, but wisdom, and it draws the interest of the student into any subject, no matter how obscure or far removed from his day-to-day concerns. It challenges the imagination and makes life the laboratory it ought to be for testing the hypotheses and lessons of the classroom.

-David Hicks, Norms and Nobility1

 

Should a school of fish follow a larger fish when he tells them to ignore the water?

 

To begin examining this question, let us consider the old, hackneyed expression about how fish do not know water because it is all around them. This may be quite true for fish, but people are different. How are we different? People are different because we bear the image and likeness of God. Furthermore, because we bear His image, we can actually see the water in which we swim. In fact, we can look within ourselves and see—to continue the metaphor—not only the “water” that goes through our “gills,” but the “gills” themselves.

 

In the realm of education today, the “big fish,”—conventional educators—want us to ignore both the water and our gills. In fact, they want to teach fish through the process of lifting them from the water and then clipping their gills. It is obvious that this does not—in fact it cannot—nurture healthy fish.


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Counterfeit Bills (Part 2)

Posted by Tobin
Tobin
Tobin Duby graduated Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Classical Liberal Arts
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on Friday, 11 May 2012
in Articles

 

In my last article, I argued that the statement, “They teach bankers to recognize counterfeits by showing them REAL bills,” is not a good argument against exposing our children to non-Christian books, as it is usually intended to imply. I argued that the banker-student analogy breaks down for two reasons. First, studying a book is a fundamentally different activity from studying a dollar bill—the former being a rhetoric-level activity involving abstract ideas and the latter being a grammar-level activity involving a “spot the difference” exercise of colors and shapes printed concretely on paper—therefore, Christian homeschooling should feel no obligation to use the Federal Reserve’s training procedure as a model. Second, the very manner in which Christians are to respond to errors is just as different; namely, to preach the truth and convert rather than making an arrest, and in order to do this, students necessarily must not restrict themselves to the study of true ideas only. But neither of these objections is, in my opinion, the real heart of the matter—hence, this second article (read part 1  ).

 

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