Art, Culture, and Life
:: In Praise of the Amateur by Alissa Wilkinson @ Image Journal [In a theology of art and culture-making, what is the place of those who aren't makers?]
"Amateurs are vital for the work of culture care. Amateurs turn art into art by completing it with their own experiences. They reflect wonder and joy to the experience. They let culture flourish with their resources, attention, prayers, and enthusiasm."
"The greatness of [humanity] is to accept [our] insignificance, [our] human condition, and [our] earth, and to thank God for putting in a finite body the seeds of eternity which are visible in small and daily gestures of love and forgiveness. The beauty of [humanity] is in this fidelity to the wonder of each day."
In many ways, the highlight of the course is a peculiar little test that I administer about mid-semester, when students’ heads are abuzz with the conflicting claims of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Darwin, and Gould: Is the natural order a theophany or the battleground of rabid genes? What is man, that he is mindful of nature? As we all agree afterwards, the quiz tells us something—but we’re not sure just what—about how we apprehend the world, ourselves, and (for those students so inclined) the Creator.
The quiz is simple enough. I offer a list of fifteen items (it varies from year to year): mouse, boy, sun, angel, ant, crab, Norwegian pine, corn, amoeba, hamburger, potato, Moby Dick, Taj Mahal, Rolls Royce, the idea of the good—and I ask students to rank them, using whatever scale they deem most important…
What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? And how do I use my time here at college to build on the answers to these tough questions?
"So fill your sons and daughters and students with music and food, images and ethics, cult and virtue which has received time and tamed it, lassoed its awful power and flown to the moon on its steam."
"Speaking of which: almost any organic metaphor for learning will be better than a technological one. I know very little of the actual process of grafting trees and plants together, but the picture itself is a striking image of what real learning is actually like. When you really learn a poem by heart, for example, and take it into your soul, it becomes a part of you. It isn't something you have to consciously go and look for to summon forth only when you want it. The poem becomes a blossom that hangs gracefully from you. When you really learn something, it becomes a part of you; when you really memorize something (the kind of memory discussed in the aforementioned podcast) you don't have to worry that it will be lost in a flush of information or data that might very well be lost, deleted, or corrupted."
:: The Work of a Child by Andrew Pudewa @ IEW [Wonderful encouragement if you have a child who is struggling academically.]
He spent considerable time outdoors, often alone, observing and absorbing his world in a healthy, visceral way. Maria Montessori asserted, “Play is the work of the child,” and indeed my son worked at play. (G. K. Chesterton noted that the reason adults don’t play more is because it requires too much effort.) So it was the combination of imaginative recreation, huge quantities of great literature, and a small but steady rigor of simple academics that got us over the hump and into the homestretch. And where are we today?…
"That word “endless”—does it describe our desire or fear? Occasionally we express the longing for something to be endless: youth, a moment of beauty, summertime, joy. But the word also voices our complaint against grading papers, planning lessons, doing laundry, disciplining children, fighting cancer, resisting temptation, confessing sin, and other toils that have no end."
"We have ignored what matters most. We have neglected to teach them that one cannot think critically without quite a lot of knowledge to think about. Thinking critically involves comparing and contrasting and synthesizing what one has learned. And a great deal of knowledge is necessary before one can begin to reflect on its meaning and look for alternative explanations.”
:: Could Storytelling Be the Secret Sauce to STEM Education? @ Mind/Shift [This reminds me of Life of Fred.]
"In this one combination of literature and math, Fruchter has hit on many learning standards. Students are reading and interpreting literature, writing creatively, interpreting a math problem in multiple ways, showing solutions in various ways, using functions and factoring."
Words and Writing
:: Word Pairs That Repeat Themselves @ Write At Home [great list of word pairs!]
There are good reasons to repeat the same idea in different words. It adds emphasis. And, more importantly, it sounds nice. Some words just belong together. They are sometimes alliterative (e.g., dribs and drabs, house and home, prim and proper, vim and vigor) and always nicely rhythmic. I believe it’s this pleasing aural quality that makes these idioms so sticky.
:: 10 popular grammar myths debunked by a Harvard linguist @ Business Insider [I like this list.]