Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

A look into the mind of one of the most random, crazy people in all the land.

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quae Facta Sunt A Me Omnia Ob Te

Old Testament: Job 38:1-18
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 12:20-36a
Psalms: Morning - 38
Evening - 126; 102

A gentleman need not know Latin, but he should at least have forgotten it. ~Brander Matthews

I'm happy to say I can sympathize with Brander :-(. The loose Bryan Adam's quote in the title is somewhat a fun poke at classical education. Now don't get me wrong....I'm not bashing it. In fact, I'm going to make the case for classical education....well, okay, that's too broad and it's way to late for me to do that.

At our Student Philosophical Association meeting on Wednesday, the topic was "Should all American students be required to learn Spanish." Some said, "yes," and others were vociferously against it. I had a third idea...require at least one secondary language starting when the child is in early elementary school. Teach grammer more often and earlier, and stay off the cutesy crap that causes their minds to jump from one subject to another with such rapidity that they aren't forced to develop patience. Also, synthesize what they learn in one class by bringing it up in another class. For example, if you teach science, bring math into the mix more often. If you teach history, bring up theology or philosophy or art. If you teach literature, bring up history and political science.

What langauge should they learn? I don't know...I suggested three and for two good reasons:
1. English is the primary language as it is what is spoken in the home...this fact as well as the fact that our laws are in English means...we should just stop fooling ourselves by acting dumb and say English is our official language.
2. Mandarin Chinese - It stands to reason that this will be the next Lingua Franca, and it would behoove us to learn it for that reason, as well as the fact that it uses a vastly different alphabet and rules from Western would really help our children's brains to develop useful skills.
3. Latin and Ancient Greek - The past Lingua Francae will enable the students to read anything from the past with at least some competence, and when they get to high school, they could decide if they want to continue in those languages, or move on to other Romance languages like French and Spanish, or begin to engage German...or even Russian, making use of some of their Greek skills.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't do math and science either. Our problem is that other nations think (and rightly so) that we're lazy. Two guys who were in the meeting are from foreign countries, and both speak three languages fluently. One guy was from Latvia and spoke Latvian, Russian, and English. The other guy, Fred, whose father was an ambassador, spoke French, English, and Swahili. Yet another guy in the room had a father who was Lebanese and a mother who was he could partially speak Arabic and Spanish on top of English!

Couple this with the fact that our writing ability in schools is a joke, it means we are falling dangerously behind in our ability to use the portion of the brain involved in languages. I have an idea...and I know it sounds crazy, but bring back classical education and stop focusing so much on sports. Sports are important for discipline, friendship, fitness, and physical development, but we focus so much time on it.

Can someone think of a potentially non-demanding schedule for Junior High and High School students that would allow them to have some free time, but would cover:
1. The classical languages
2. Religious education and theology
3. Philosophy and reasoning
4. Mathematics
5. Both the life and physical sciences with fundamental distinction in education
6. Art and drama (including music)
7. Literature and grammer (as separate courses...why high school just had "English" which only did literature I'll never know).
8. Mandatory sport

Such a school I think would be demanding on young kids, but well worth it in the long run, as the more you have to do when you are younger with regards to learning and education, the less hard you'll have to work when you get older.


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