Happy Birthday to G. K. Chesterton!

Chesterton is far too quotable to do justice, so here are three quotes from him related to the topic of “Reason”

Reason and the Heart:

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.

Reason and Imagination:

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.

Reason and Faith:

It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, “Why should ANYTHING go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?” The young sceptic says, “I have a right to think for myself.” But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, “I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.”

~Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)


Happy Birthday to Walker Percy!

You live in a deranged age, more deranged that usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.

The influence of Kierkegaard on Percy is apparent:

The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.

~Walker Percy (1916-1990)


The Elective System: Giving Ignorance a Voice in Education

Because man is viewed as having only an animal career and not a human destiny, interest and adjustment have taken the place of discipline and cultivation as the watchwords of educational policy. The whole aim of education changes, for adjustment lead to the cult of success, the “ideal” of getting ahead by beating your neighbor. The emphasis on the interests of the student makes him a buyer instead of a patient, and the teacher becomes a salesman rather than a doctor prescribing the cure for ignorance and incompetence. It is the student who is the master under the elective system, which was invented because of the excessive proliferation of scientific courses in the curriculum, and has been perpetuated by the perversion of educational policy which makes the young, i.e., the relatively ignorant and incompetent, choose their own road to learning, according to the fickle interests of their immaturity. Extracurricular activities originated in response to interests that were tangential to the main business of education, but in many schools they have become the curriculum, and the substantial studies have been thrown out. They are not even extracurricular. Many college curriculums offer courses A to Z without discrimination; and the university, instead of being a hierarchy of studies and a community of scholars, is a collection of specialists, together only in geographical proximity.

Mortimer J. Adler, Reforming Education, p. 77 (emphasis added)

Ron Paul on the New Common Core Federal Curriculum

Ron Paul has a nice piece on the federal government’s new scheme to lower educational standards.

Critics of Common Core say it “dumbs down” education by replacing traditional English literature with “informational texts”. So students will read such inspiring materials as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council. It is doubtful that reading federal reports will teach students the habits of critical thinking and skepticism of government that the Founders considered essential to maintaining a free republic.

My Summer Reading List


With finals marked and all my grades in, I have only a couple faculty meetings left and then summer begins in full-swing. Here’s what’s on my summer reading list this year. I’m sure I’ll read more than what’s here, but here is the plan so far, in no particular order:

  1. The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto by Mortimer J. Adler
  2. The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus  by Mortimer J. Adler
  3. Paideia Problems and Possibilities  by Mortimer J. Adler
  4. Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind by Mortimer J. Adler
  5. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
  6. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith
  7. At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith
  8. Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith
  9. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  11. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
  12. The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope by Roger Scruton
  13. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Does Education Only Happen After School?

So says Mortimer Adler:

No one ever becomes a generally educated person in school, college, or university, for youth itself is an insuperable obstacle to becoming generally educated. That is why the very best thing that our educational institutions can do, so far as general education is concerned (not the training of specialists), is to afford preparation for continued learning by their students after they leave these institutions behind them.

Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind, p. xxxi.