Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Norms and Nobility: 2 Questions

I am glad to be back thinking about Wednesday with Words again.

I have started reflecting on ideas and passages in Norms and Nobility by David Hicks.   My last post talked about a story formed life being a classical approach.

Today, I want to look at this striking quote.
In his quest for the best education, the ancient schoolmaster possessed two advantages over the modern educator.  First, he knew exactly what kind of person he wished to produce. . . Second, he agreed in form upon an inquiry-based or knowledge-centered - as opposed to child-centered - approach to education.  Whether he was a philosopher hoping to elicit knowledge or a rhetorician hoping to implant it he ignored the "child" and appealed directly to the "father of the man" within his student. 
Much of this chapter is dedicated to "what kind of person" the Ideal Type would produce.  The fact that our culture doesn't have an "ideal type"is telling.  Honestly, this quote caused a bit of a problem for me because it spoke to the root of my issue.  What am I trying to produce?  I do think it is my job to plant and leave the "production" up to the child in relationship with God.  But my "ideal type" will focus my planting efforts.  What am I planting? Why?

It helped me realize that I am still caught between the "American education" system ideal and the Christian ideal type (Jesus) and they are NOT the same.  Maybe, in some mythical past, they had some similarities but today they are very different.  I am at the point where a clear choice must be made and I have not wanted to decide (remembering the root for that is kill).  The time has come - one vision must die.  I need to burn my old yoke and submit to the new.

I also thought I had gotten over the "child-centered" approach to education.  His discussion made me realize I was falling short.  He asserts

The healthy child wants to become an adult, just as the mature adult wants to be an adult. 

Well, I am not sure that is true of our society.  So, even what seems like a basic assumption is going against the grain.  The work required to call children into adulthood is not built into our educational approach any longer.  We marvel at the colonials as they regularly took on large responsibilities in their late teens.  There are many reasons, beyond this discussion, why this is no longer, but I don't think our essential nature has changed - societal expectation and preparation has.
Of towering importance to the child are not the playful, innocent moments remembered by an adult who nears death, but the hard-won progress he makes as a child toward his image of adulthood.  He measures his greatest achievements and most agonizing defeats against this image.  When his teacher holds out to him only an image of how 12-year-olds ought to think and act, his hope of growth wavers, and he becomes restive and inattentive. 
Guilty!  I am guilty of making excuses based on age, personality, learning type, gender, whatever. Instead of constantly pointing them ahead towards what they are called to become, I make excuses so they don't have to do the hard stuff.  In part, because at home, I have to deal with the attitude, tears, frustration.  I must have a clear vision of maturity that I call myself to and hold out as an example for my children.  My indecision is killing the wrong thing - without vision, people perish.

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