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Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery Of Education
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Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery Of Education

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  21 reviews
This book rediscovers a traditional mode of knowledge that remains viable today. Contrasted to the academic and cultural fads often based on the scientific methodology of the Cartesian legacy, or any number of trendy experiments in education, Poetic Knowledge returns to the freshness and importance of first knowledge, a knowledge of the senses and the passions."Poetic know ...more
Hardcover, 211 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by State University of New York Press
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M.G. Bianco
Let me describe first what this book is about. The title can be distracting if we aren't used to certain philosophical terms. This is not a book about poetry, although it is. It is not about knowledge, although it is. Poetic knowledge describes a certain kind of knowledge distinct from scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge is what we are most familiar with: an analytical study of a subject, a rational knowledge about a subject. It is knowing a horse because you've memorized information and ...more
My husband and I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Taylor and take him to dinner several years ago (1998 or 1999) when he was in Denver for a Catholic homeschooling conference.

We had a marvelous evening and learned so much from this man, who attended the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas which was a hotbed for Catholic conversions and making monks (dozens at Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma and the Abbey of Fontgombault in France), priests (Fr. James Jackson, FSSP) and bi
I just finished this book today and was thoroughly impressed throughout. The author is clear and concise and he cites all the right people: Augustine, Benedict, Aquinas, and Newman. It is a great look at education and the poetic mode of learning and teaching. Something long forgotten even in Christian School circles, and perhaps even in Classical circles too.
The last two chapters are the best: he applies the principles from earlier in the book to a real school that was around in the 1970s. In t
Without over-simplifying one of life's most complicated phenomena, Taylor boils down education (at least, successful, meaningful education) as the excitement of the soul unto love. He prefaces this central discussion with a thorough survey of philosophical treatment of knowledge and imagination from Plato to Aristotle, Augustine, Benedict, Aquinas and through to modern thinkers like Maritain and Pieper (including a decent treatment of the "Cartesian legacy"). And while that first section may be ...more
This is an excellent book, and quite challenging compared to what I had been taught for many years.

Five high school teachers spent six weeks reading through and discussing it.

The author did a great job of showing historically how we have arrived at Cartesian learning in the West. He did less of a good job showing what the alternative would look like.

I had concerns as I read through the book. He says on page 131 that St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle were omitted from the 2-year college course
James B.
What follows is my summary of this book.
"The poetic mode of learning is a sensory-emotional experience of reality, a spontaneous act of the senses with the intellect, getting the learner inside of the object of experience. It occurs in a setting of leisure, initiated in wonder and leading to a love of reality. It was the traditional mode of learning among the ancients and medievals, but was largely discarded and replaced by the analytical/scientific mode by Descartes, Dewey, and other modern edu
Brad Belschner
Pretty good book. "Poetic" doesn't mean poems; it means actually doing stuff physically. I think the author gets too bogged down on philosophy in the middle of the book (which is ironic), but the last third gets practical again. This book is basically an introduction to the concept, so don't expect any detailed guidelines here. Personally, that's what I'd like to hear more about. Details...more thorough descriptions of what poetic education might look like.
Katy Cruel
In the words of Ruth. This one is a "game-changer"!
Donald Linnemeyer
This book started out incredibly confusing and abstract, and as long as the James Taylor stayed at that level, the book suffered from vague and seemingly contradictory educational ideals.

Roughly the last half of the book - chapters 5-7 - is much more concrete, and there, James Taylor (heh, I love saying that in this context) gave some very vivid examples of how to improve schools. Instead of the lofty abstractions of the first four chapters, he pushes toward education that forces students to get
Taylor opens the book by comparing two boys who are being asked about horses. One boy has a scientific book definition of horses, but has never been around them. The other boy has been around horses training and riding them, but does not know the scientific names or specific facts about them. The second boy has a more "poetic" intuitive knowledge. His argument is that specific deep factual knowledge should be reserved for much older students and poetic knowledge should be for younger students.
I'll fess up. I didn't understand this book. I've never read Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas or Descartes so I had no hooks to hang anything the author was trying to say on. The last 2 chapters were interesting but without understanding the foundational philosophy behind it, I wouldn't dare try and implement the ideas contained in them.
It's been quite a few years since I read it, but it was and is one of the most important books I have ever read, in terms of solidifying intensely my belief that beauty of schools, for example, and in particular. Lots of other stuff is in there, too.

I was fortunate to meet Dr. Taylor some years back when he spoke at a homeschooling conference. He is as kind and courtly in person as the way he writes in Poetic Knowledge.
This book is a good summary of what others have said about poetic knowledge. Taylor also recounts some of his own experiences teaching about poetic knowledge to others and suggests possible directions for poetic knowledge in education.
Mystie Winckler
Own. Hosted an online book club to discuss this book started April 5th, 2011 at my blog:
Wonderful argument for the beauty of Classical Education that has been lost to us. Right up there with Climbing Parnassus!
This was a fascinating account of the definition and history of this more experiential type of knowledge.
Bobbi Martens
Excellent book on educating along with the grain of the human soul. Good read.
Love this book -- cannot recommend it highly enough.
Gregory Soderberg
A fantastic book! Must-read for educators!
review to come.
Blake Arensdorf
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