Local Loves

Summer brings to my mind rope swings over lazy rivers, barefoot frolics in fields of freshly mown grass, strawberries eaten outdoors from a bowl so that their leafy tops can be thrown out into the yard; leisure at its finest. But, like clockwork every year, fall necessarily follows summer; as school really is just around the corner, the theme of the day is education.

Check out these articles (the first two from Front Porch Republic and the third from the L.A. Times) on the specifics of how we ought to pursue education.

Russell Arben Fox’s article “What Was High School For?” addresses the role education plays in forming complete citizens who belong to specific communities. His quote here (from an earlier article) illustrates just how students benefit from a state interested in the
public good. “I like the idea of the state being a ( partial) agent of education insofar as the state is the reflection of the collective interest we all have in promoting and sharing certain civic goods with one another, especially the poor and marginalized, then it is an agency worth supporting.” For Fox, participation in public education is preceded with loves for community, place, and one’s neighbors. Teachers, students, and parents ought to be involved in decisions of curriculum, school events, and classroom safety of public schools
because these particulars shape characters. Augustine says in City of God, that a community is a group of people organized in a particular place, “bound together by a common agreement as to the objects of their love”; character must be formed through a proper education, one that teaches us to rightly order our loves. The concerns of a
particular place with particular family ties and a particular history make up our identities; to remain uninterested in the details of a place that forms the future citizens of one’s community is to deny one’s identity in that community itself.

David Walbert speaks here of home-schooling in his article “A Footloose Spring Day.” His discussion is one that outlines components necessary for real education:

…children need grammar and logic and rhetoric, but they will have to discover on their own what to apply it to. They need the rigor of the classical education to use wisely the freedom of the unschooler, and the freedom of the unschooler to give a classical education purpose. They need the airy liberty of woods-wandering and the rocky foundation of grammar, the carelessness to stumble upon what they ought to be careful about. They need a tough curriculum and the will to tell it, on a gorgeous April Wednesday, to go take a hike. That’s how you have a conversation about bluets and adverbs; that’s how you learn, how you live.”

Lastly this article from the L.A. Times by Larry Gordon reports that Caltech, a notoriously academically- challenging school which aims to produce “science and engineering leaders,” still graduates students with interests in the liberal arts. Says Jonathan Katz, who chairs the humanities and social sciences division: “How can you lead if you can’t communicate and don’t understand the world? Students have to know how to write, how to communicate and be able to deal with the bigger populations.”

Thoughts readers ?

Enjoy the summer heat Salvo blog followers. Would anyone care to share their summer book lists?

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