Wednesdays with Words – March 26, 2014

A day late so perhaps I should rename it Thursdays with Words this week.

I’ve started reading Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott with Cindy over at Ordo Amoris.  I could stop right after the introduction and have the foundations for my school year next year.  Here are just a few of the many passages I highlighted:

Ideas have consequences.1 They shape our society, our economy, our very lives. The gravest threat our civilization faces is in fact not ecological but philosophical. It is the widespread belief that there is no objective truth and no ‘true’ way of considering the world and its history, only a plurality of subjective points of view, each point of view being of equal value and deserving equal respect.

 

Students graduate with some knowledge of, say, the Tudors or the Second World War, Romantic poetry or astrophysics, without any awareness of other historical periods or the classical origins of our civilization. It is as though we were attempting to construct the top floor of a building without bothering with the lower floors or foundations.

 

The liberal arts are a golden thread that comes from the Greeks, from Pythagoras and his successors both Islamic and Christian, especially St Augustine; a thread that weaves its way through the history of our civilization. These arts were intended for the cultivation of freedom and the raising of our humanity to its highest possible level.

 

Today, in democratic societies, all men and women participate together in ruling our society, even if only by electing representatives to do so, and the education that used to be reserved to aristocrats is now a necessary qualification for everyone. If we are all to rule, we all need to become wise, and the key to wisdom is to understand the unity or interrelationship of all human knowledge, which is where the liberal arts come in.

 

The central idea of the present book is very simple. It is that education is not primarily about the acquisition of information. It is not even about the acquisition of ‘skills’ in the conventional sense, to equip us for particular roles in society. It is about how we become more human (and therefore more free, in the truest sense of that word).

 

Mr. Caldecott ends with a series of triads, including the Trivium and I love the way he renames each of them.  Grammar becomes Remembering; Dialectic becomes Thinking; and Rhetoric becomes Speaking.

Also, I love what Cindy says in her post on the introduction:  “Great men have great imaginations. Remember that as you plan your next school year.”

Read about everyone else’s books at Ordo-Amoris.

 

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