public life is not larger than private life, but smaller

From G.K. Chesterton’s “Turning Inside Out” in Fancies vs. Fads, 1923: The passage from private life to public life … is always of necessity a passage from a greater work to a smaller one, and from a harder work to an easier one. And that is why most of the moderns do wish to pass […]

teach like the first snow, falling

Undivided Attention by Taylor Mali A grand piano wrapped in quilted pads by movers, tied up with canvas straps—like classical music’s birthday gift to the criminally insane— is gently nudged without its legs out an eighth‐floor window on 62nd street. It dangles in April air from the neck of the movers’ crane, Chopin-­‐shiny black lacquer […]

more intense and reflective perhaps

The most neglected reality in education is the reality of the present moment, of what is happening here and now in the classroom itself. To speak of the classroom as a place “in which obedience to truth is practied” is to break the barriers between the classroom and the world–past, present, and future. To speak […]

to make the painful things possible

To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced. …A learning space has three major characteristics, three essential dimensions: openness, boundaries, and an air of hospitality. …Openness is no more than the commonsense meaning of space. To create space is to remove the impediments to learning that we find around […]

they must fail to excite

The inability of the present generation of young people to read, write, and think is only a symptom of our departure from dialectical learning, but it is everywhere being treated as the disease itself. So long as these skills are valued only for utilitarian ends, such as those delineated by Mao, they must fail to […]

fills the young person’s head with the sound of voices

The poet, Plato writes in Phaedra, “clothes all the great deeds accomplished by the men of old with glory, and thus educates those who come after.” The poet’s myth teaches the Ideal Type by example, not by precept, and allows the student through his imagination to participate in the past, partaking of the Ideal. Often […]

a day of unusual classes

My wife found a delightful illustrator, Emily Winfield Martin, who has written a children’s book called Oddfellow’s Orphanage that we have been enjoying with our children. Chapter three, “A Day of Unusual Classes,” describes the following curriculum: F.T. Studies by Professor Flockheart (which stands for fairy tales OR folktales), M.O.N.S.T.E.R.S. by Professor Silas (which written […]

starving the sensibility of our pupils

By starving the sensibility of our pupils, we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. From The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), page 27. This gem from Lewis was quoted in an essay by Jean Bethke Elshtain about The Abolition of Man, of […]

making friends with some ancestors long dead

I began to comprehend the obvious: that the central and shaping language of the church’s life has always been its prayer language. Out of that recognition a conviction grew: that my primary educational task as pastor was to teach people to pray. I did not abandon, and will not abandon, the task of teaching about […]