Sunday, August 16, 2009

Conference This Month

I attended the Wisdom and Eloquence conference in Fort Wayne earlier this month. The lectures and discussion provided lots of ideas to ponder.

Near the beginning of the keynote speaker's lecture, he quoted Luther where he was talking about the rain falling in one place and then going to another. The speaker said we need to take this to heart, that God is sending a blessing to us with classical education, and if we despise it, we will lose it. But Luther wasn't talking about temporal blessings; he was talking about the proclamation of the Gospel. If his countrymen rejected the Gospel, they would lose it. It made me uneasy to hear this quote being used out of context. What other quotes might the speaker be taking out of context? Can't we just say "Carpe diem" without hijacking a Luther quote that had nothing to do with education?

Also near the beginning of the lecture, the speaker posited the statement that classical education can be defined as the education that will make one "fully human." Maybe I have spent too much energy caring about the lives of little [pre-born] babies; this terminology gives me the creeps. Do we really want to say that those who have received mere technical training are less than fully human?


  1. I also have a problem with the language of "fully human" used in that context. Primarily because I don't think it should really be used in any context outside of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection (which would include, also, the sacraments). Besides, what are we to tell Christian public and private schoolers who don't do classical education. They're not fully human? I don't know what that means, then...

    As for the quote out of context... well, yeah, just spend a year at the seminary. Eventually, they just start to slide right past you. ;-)

  2. I have a response for that kind of talk. It sounds like a cross between "Gaackk" and that noise you make back in your throat when you have phlegm down deep. You know, like Achmed the Dead Terrorist whem he says his name?
    Yeah, it's like that.

  3. But Melody, that "fully human" stuff is scattered all over the place when you try to google information about classical ed, even when you're looking for information on Lutheran/Christian classical ed. I'm pretty darn sure it doesn't mean what I'm hearing it to be, but boy, it makes me squeamish to hear the words.

    And yet...
    as much as we love rhetoric and logic ...
    I suspect that there are arguments for classical ed where we have blindly accepted arguments and not followed them to their logical conclusions.

  4. I think I know what they mean, but what they mean is exactly why I'm such a proponent of the open-source, natural-learning style of people like John Taylor Gatto. It's not the sole pervue of the Classical Ed movement.

    "Fully human" is an icky way to say it, though. We need a better term. "Non-consumerist independent thinker" doesn't quite cut it.

    (And the unspoken dissing of technical/trade education is one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of Classical Ed as the One Best Way.)

  5. Yes, EC, I know what you mean. There is something good about that philosophy of education that desires more than "just" technical skills, that aims for critical thinking, and presents beauty to the student. And yes, I also agree that it can be found outside the Classical Ed movement (unless we are using the broad definitions which allow ONLY for "progressive" versus "classical" in the whole wide world of educational theory).

    it is icky to use the lingo that's used by the pro-abortionists and elitists. And then, when you throw into the mix how they diss trade education, it causes one's mind to wander back to ancient Greece and Rome, and their slaves, and whether the freedmen saw the slaves as fully human. And then you begin to wonder about following these things to their conclusions: does our desire for classical ed grow out of a desire for our kids to be in the elite freedmen class instead of in the slave class? And are freedmen more "fully human" than slaves?

    I do want for my kids to be thinkers. I do want for them to know beauty. I would prefer that they have easier lives (temporarlly) than the slave life. But I have this fear that the phrase "fully human" may betray something amiss that we are not fully willing to face up to.