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.
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:
- The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto by Mortimer J. Adler
- The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus by Mortimer J. Adler
- Paideia Problems and Possibilities by Mortimer J. Adler
- Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind by Mortimer J. Adler
- Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith
- At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith
- Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
- The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope by Roger Scruton
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
First Things has a nice article on Kierkegaard up today:
The two biggest misconceptions about Kierkegaard have to do with his attitude toward the Church, and his general disposition. Because he rebuked the Church so sternly, some people think he was trying to subvert it. On the contrary, says scholar Howard Johnson, Kierkegaard was a “loyal son of the Church,” who “like St. Thomas Aquinas,” or any other theologian until recent times, was “so living in the sacramental, ecclesiological reality” of Christianity that it would never have occurred to him to try to “topple altars.” His critique was constructive, not destructive. …
The second misconception is that Kierkegaard was a perpetual malcontent, the “gloomy Dane,” who could only protest and never find peace and solace. In fact, the moment he committed himself to Christ, unreservedly, Kierkegaard found that peace which was the source and strength of his whole life.
You can read the rest here.
If you’ve never read or heard of Brennan Manning, go out right now and read The Ragamuffin Gospel and The Signature of Jesus. Here’s a little glimpse of what you’re in for:
Here is a fine presentation by Image Journal editor Gregory Wolfe from the 2012 CiRCE Conference entitled “The Cave and the Cathedral: Meaning-making in the Dark”
One of my favorite bloggers, Bad Catholic, has another gem up entitled, “5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music.”
Here’s a gem from the post:
Isn’t all singing about Jesus inherently valuable?
No. Love covers a multitude of sins, but a cliched refrain of his Most Holy Name will not cover the fact that your melody, chord progression, and overworked synth track are recycled versions of Nickleback’s last single.
What has prayer got to do with sitting on the toilet?
Well, if you’re an Orthodox Jew, quite a bit it turns out!
The Asher Yatzar is a prayer included in many Jewish prayer books to be said every time a person evacuates their bowels. The purpose of the prayer is to thank G-d for the proper functioning of the human body. Anyone who has had a blockage or other intestinal problems knows quite well how awful it can be when the body doesn’t function properly. So I wholeheartedly commend you to recite the Asher Yatzar after nature calls:
“Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who formed man with wisdom and created within him many openings and many hollows. It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory that if even one of them ruptures, or if even one of them becomes blocked, it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You (even for a short period). Blessed are You, Hashem, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.”
It seems that the 113th Congress cannot get any lower in the minds of the American public. According to Public Policy Polling, Congress in now less popular than lice, brussel sprouts, colonoscopies, root canals, traffic jams, France, and…
wait for it…
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Congress is also less popular than Genghis Khan (who’s military exploits killed approximately 40,000,000 people).
But there seems to be some hope left for America. Congress did narrowly beat out:
and the Kardashians.
What has science to do with Classical Education? After all, we need scientists, not people who dawdle around in dead languages. Yet, E. Christian Kopff argues persuasively that many of the greatest modern scientific achievements were made by scientists who were classically educated. Further, that it was because of that classical education, not in spite of it, that they made the advancements they did. Says Kopff,
The decades on either side of WWI witnessed brilliant work in Physics: the concept of quanta, the theories of special and general relativity and the development of quantum mechanics. One might expect that the most important work in these fields would be done by graduates of the technical school system. Nearly the opposite is true. Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Niels Bohr were classically educated. Einstein attended a Swiss technical high school, but he had spent his first six years at a classical school, where his sister remembered his best subjects as Mathematics and Latin: “Latin’s clear, strictly logical structure fit his mindset.” Heisenberg wrote: “I believe that in the work of Max Planck, for instance, we can clearly see that his thought was influenced and made fruitful by his classical schooling.” Heisenberg insisted that his own insights into nature came from his classical education. Its combination of math and physics with language instruction led him to read Plato’s Timaeus in Greek. He was impressed by Plato’s rational appeals to understand nature mathematically rather than as a purely physical reality: “I was gaining the growing conviction that one could hardly make progress in modern atomic physics without a knowledge of Greek natural philosophy.”
You can find the full text of Kopff’s essay here.