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Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
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M.G. Bianco (mgbianc) | 20 comments Mod
"Education at every level reflects our primary assumptions about the nature of man, and for this reason, no education is innocent of an attitude toward man and his purposes" (N&N, p. 3).


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Jennifer | 5 comments Mod
Yes! No such thing as neutral or value-free education.


Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments I really do hope to enter into some conversation that is ventures deeper than a quote or two, but looking forward to that over the next few weeks...here's a quote:

"the mind of the policy maker, unaccustomed to abstract, dialectical thought and seldom imbued with an imaginative sense or responsibility toward the past, prefers to grab onto an concrete operational means rather than to feel the way tentatively toward and abstract normative end."


Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments And to finish that paragraph...

"Both policy maker as strategist and school administrator as educator resemble the farmer who tries to plow a field with his eyes on the plow rather than on that imaginary point on the horizon on which he must fix his gaze if he expects to leave a straight furrow." (P. 12)

That imaginary point for the farmer is reminiscent of the point of integration in the CC educational models, ie, God. Without our eyes fixed on that point, our shot leads us astray even if we hit the target. Focusing on the "concrete operational means" is always short-sighted, towards both the future and the past.


M.G. Bianco (mgbianc) | 20 comments Mod
Oh, man. What a great connection, Marc. This must be what they mean when they refer to "the tyranny of the practical." I'm not sure who "they" are, but the tyranny of the practical is a phrase that has always stuck with me. It is us aiming for the barn instead of the moon, for the world instead of heaven, for Harvard instead of heaven.


Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments I am finding the "secular" nature of his appeal much more invigorating than I expected. His general paradigm of "mythos," which he leaves open to several dogmatic possibilities, is prompting me to think more deeply about how his assertions get processed through my filters. I am seeing the benefits of general argumentation, somewhat Lewisian, as opposed to every argument being explicitly trinitarian, or even more particularly reformed. For a boy weaned on Van Til, this is a big deal.


Cheryl Floyd (cherylfloyd) | 12 comments Yesterday I was listening to an Andrew Kern talk on assessment and he referenced the centralized nature of man's approach to everything, but of course also to education. He used an example of a supervisor who suddenly begins to mistrust an employee. At that point the supervisor will turn to regulation to ensure work ethic or production and therefore takes away more responsibility from the employee.

Because numbers can be crunched, educational "supervisors" move more and more to data and further and further away from the teacher using the mentor/milestone/assessment model. Even Jenny Rollins in her Liturgical Classroom video on classicaleducator.com admitted as she tried to incorporate more virtue-based dialectic and contemplative time, she had to be aware of the need for grades and tests and papers as well - because principals and parents want data. - :( I wish they wanted fruit - both are evidence but only one is actually indicative of growth. - This is at a wonderful Classical Christian school. I truly believe this institution is not pushing a liberal progressive agenda.

However, in secular education? - well, first of all, as stated before - there is no "secular" in the sense of "neutral", secular IS anti-God. Not even non-God, it is against God and godliness. In anti-Christian education, I truly do believe there was a purposeful swing away from mentoring and virtue-based education because with this you build educated citizens who build families and then communities and are free-thinkers who want to run a free country. If you have your own agenda and want this country to be under a socialist or even communist rule, you have to change the masses - or, create masses - so there are no longer educated, free individual citizens, but cogs in the wheel of the State - who will be dependent upon those in charge and will therefore do whatever is necessary to keep the doll coming. THIS is the problem and state of our education system that is "secular" or state-driven.

Education which is still private, homeschool or institution, does not have the same motive, BUT, because so many of us were abused and brain-washed by this system, we perpetuate it, even in our privacy! This is what CC and Circe and others are trying to help us with! Not only gaining from the Classical models and methods but exercising the lies and misconceptions about data-driven schooling, rather than fruit-filled education.

I am also not interested in sending my children to data-driven, secular "college". If my children even need to attend college for their further education, we will look into the wonderful crop of Classically-modeled colleges, or at least as Conservatively Christian as we can find. There are few colleges that keep a 7-day creation model standard. My son wanted to study either Biology or Chemistry - very few Christian colleges with science degrees, even fewer with Biblical creation standards. To find a college with Conservative Christian philosophy AND is not data-driven? - a hand-full at the most. But, better to support them so they may grow and so that others may follow their lead. That is our goal anyway. Oldest son ended up at a small Christian college in general studies and then dropped out after the first semester! :)


Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments "The seven liberal arts of antiquity included the four preliminary studies of arithmetic, geometry, harmonics, and astronomy, follow by three advanced disciplines of grammar, which combined literary history and linguistic study, rhetoric, and dialectic. This curriculum passed through the Romans to the Latin West and formed the basis for the medieval quadrivium and trivium. During the Middle Ages, the trivium was generally taught first, with logic taking the place of dialectic. This substitution was not accidental. For an age that possessed the Truth, the dialectical search for truth was a fruitless and even frivolous, irreverent endeavor. When one knows the truth, one has no need for dialectic - all one needs is logic. Yet to an age like ours, lacking the confidence (some would say the complacency) of the early Christian era, the dialectic holds out a serious method of study imbued with a noble purpose."

After finishing that paragraph, picking up my jaw from off the floor, and gathering about my wits, I realized that this is not just a treatise on education; it is an education, and buddy am I ever in need of one.


Cheryl Floyd (cherylfloyd) | 12 comments hehe. Not more than I! I have said something in this same vain about our culture not assisting us as parents or Christian people as it used to. When you had a wholly Christian culture you didn't need a of questioning about faith-based ideas - you utilized "literary history" in the grammar stage to load the heart and mind with Christ through Catechesis.

But now, because their is no "truth" and everywhere social values are subjective and relative, we need to equip our children to combat our culture, or defend themselves, ourselves, from the offense of our culture. Because it is a war; there is an offensive against absolute truth, virtue, objective beauty. Even though we do not war against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, the god of this age and the prince of the air, we still have to be able to give an account for the way we believe - in order to do that we must first believe, but then we must be able to prove why we believe what we believe. SO important in this day and age.

Thinking in terms of the grammar stage and loading "literary history" and linguistic study really helps me see how to narrow and deepen our focus.


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Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments Finished Chapter 6, "On the Necessity of Dogma" this morning. I really appreciated Hicks' contrast of dogma to doubt. The chapter is a continuation of everything previous, as well as a self-contained argument.

He holds that dogma leads to dialectic which in turn "throws open the windows of inquiry," whereas doubt leads to "ideological certainties" which will preclude, and likely prevent, true inquiry. (p. 77) The champion of doubt leading to truth is Descartes, who, according to Hicks, attributed "thought to being" by asserting a "hypothesis that itself is not subject to doubt. Thought is not a proof of being (it is a proof of thinking), but that it should be so is a dogma necessary for the birth of Cartesian rationalism. What in fact the cogito ergo sum demonstrates is man's inability to doubt in the absence of a dogma attributing thought to being--a dialectical verity!" (p. 70)

On page 69, Hicks states, "dialectical learning requires that he (a student) accept a dogma before he rejects it." His beef with Descartes and all those modern educators who follow in his train is that their assumptions about the benefits of doubt to resolve that doubt=being are in fact a priori and therefore cannot be proven or disproven by the project itself. They are before and therefore above any dialectic which may ensue. All this flies in the face of modern scientific educators who assume that "brute matter" can be approached by a "brute person."

It is therefore necessary to real, dialectical inquiry to recognize that one is embracing a dogma and seek to understand the implications of that dogma on the question at hand before any education can take place.

I recognize now in my Challenge classes how frequently we "analyze" a book or a passage as opposed to entering into dialectic about that book or passage. We must learn to put on the academic guise of worldviews other than our own in order to understand and accept/reject the tenets and ensuing applications of that perspective. We must learn to look deeply into our own worldview to see what we are taking for granted before we begin inquiry.

We are always creatures, so the Creator is always the final word, but we are always creatures, so we must recognize that we need to grow in our understanding of the Creator's world and Word. We are not yet who we shall become, so we must assume that even our a priori assumptions may get tweaked by the end of the day. This does not lead to doubt, but it does "throw open the window of inquiry." This is the humble inquiry of a creature of God who recognizes that his frailties go all the way to the bone, and it is the humble man whom the Lord will raise up.

Thoughts?


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M.G. Bianco (mgbianc) | 20 comments Mod
Marc,

I fell in love with this chapter when I read it. I'm glad to hear it's had such an impact on you. The first thing I thought of while reading it is that there is no such thing as 'neutrality' or an 'unbiased' approach. Hicks forces us (if we engage him on this point) to agree and reject such foolishness as neutrality. Yet, in doing so, we may find that we are actually more likely to be neutral enough in the "throwing open the window of inquiry" that we are ennabled and empowered to reject fallacious thinking and embrace Truth. Whereas before, our supposed neutrality and "doubt" prevented us from ever being allowed to embrace something, Truth or not, because to do so would be to give up our neutrality and "doubt."

Thanks for sharing; these are my thoughts.
Matt


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Marc Hays (marc_hays) | 14 comments Good quote with a great metaphor at the end:

"Purged of pagan complexity and Christian mystery, modern education's habit of considering everything analytically as a physical datum fails to inspire change in the learner. Philosophy, religion, history, literature--all become mere physical data. This posture of analytical value-free learning diametrically opposes the wisdom of both pagan and Christian paideia. It methodically strips our cultural inheritance in the arts and letters of its normative richness and encourages modern youth in the deadly presumption of amoral action. The way a modern youth learns does not admit, let alone emphasize, the connection between knowledge and responsibility. Yet to paraphrase Bacon in a context he now deserves: to give man knowledge is to give him a sword. To teach man the devastating science of swordsmanship and not the moral implications and responsibilities that come with wielding a sword is to unloose upon the world both a murderer and a victim. This is a tragedy in both instances, since modern man's eleventh hour plea of ignorance in regard to his responsibilities will be--despite his vast stores of piecemeal knowledge--quite useless to save him."
"The Promise of Christian Paideia" (p.99)


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