As before, today had a lot of ideas and discussion that may be very hard to simply write out in discursive sentences. But I will try.
We began our day by noting that so far we had set into play a drama if you will, a set of motions within a script. We were seeking to bring our students to a place of knowing Christ in all His fullness, loving Him with all their heart, mind, and body by four modes of knowing, through the tools provided by the Seven Liberal Arts, and all of this through the lens of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty by contemplation and thought about God’s Theatre of Glory (His creation). And we were not content that such should stay lofty or disconnected from “real life” so we wanted to see this relationship with Christ as the Great Logos, as the arche of what we should be, to be brought back down into the Theatre of Glory and incarnated in us as it was in Him. To be truly Beautiful, Truthful, and Good as He was, we must be in the world with Him.
We briefly added to this play the notions that there are two ways of thinking in the ancient school: ratio and intellectus. Ratio can be signified as discursive or moving thought (A—B) while intellectus is contemplative (a—A). Ratio moves forward propositionally while intellectus contemplates an idea for itself, never arriving at the end of the “word” but only growing in its knowledge of that idea. Both of these must be addressed in a school to truly say we are teaching students to think about God, Man, the World.
But that is just the goal and it’s attending means. What is the actual stage for this type of education? In what environment would such a play be able to be brought forth (and I don’t wish my analogy to suggest that it is a “playing” at life, but rather that the play itself is life, but that we are prepared for life in school. So what must that Preparatory Theatre look like? And we discussed that its very name is indicative of its essence: school, coming from Latin, schola, meaning “leisure.” School is to be a place of leisure, a place for thinking about our life, if we are to every hope to reach our goals of living life rightly.
This caused much discussion both about what ought and what could be done to promote such a place. We live in a society that has reduced life down into terms that are Marxist and utilitarian. We measure a man’s life by his work. We consider school as a means to that successful work. Thus school work becomes measured by its output, its quantity, its “business (busyness).” This gets in the way of all our previous notions of the modes of learning because it robs these modes of their goal and purpose, replacing it with a lower purpose that can be accomplished with much less effort and time.
We live in very anxiety inducing circumstances. In the end it may be found that our stressful lifestyles do much more to kill us early than carbs and calories ever could. And schools promote this stress and anxiety by trying to keep kids busy. If it is a place of leisure, it must be a place of purpose and priority. The best and most important things should be done in a manner that puts the student in a place to become human, not to become a better “producer” or “worker bee.” As our whole culture is infused with this industrial notion, we are up against a deep paradigm that must change if our schools are recover any of the older forms of thought, understanding, wisdom, and virtue that once came from them. Two works were set forth as helping to understand the place of leisure: Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor and Joseph Pieper’s Leisure: the Basis of Culture.
This moved us to a further difficulty with modern schooling that explains some of the shifts in our way of learning. In the old “pre-Enlightenment” school much of the hard work of ratio and intellectus was accomplished by marrying propositional thought (Logos) with stories that brought meaning to those thoughts and ideas (Mythos). The “Enlightenment” turned the light of myth off for modern man and will allow him to pursue truth through the Logos, the word, the way of rational thought. In short, he is left with a series of facts, factoids, and globules of facts but no underlying story that connects them. Life has become disintegrated. Folks can believe that one is schizophrenic if he chooses to major in say, Bible, and minor in Biology (as I did). Without the “story of God” (the Christian mythos of Scripture) there really is little point in learning anything logically because there is no need for it other than to get a diploma so I can get into college, so I can get a good job, which will allow me to retire before I die so I can try and enjoy the last few years before I then die. This is not human. It is mechanistic and vile.
This area of mythos or myth is something so unModern that we feel weird even talking about it. Are not myths things that are made up, old ways of superstition, silly stories to explain man’s lack of understanding of things really are? In fact, America may be the first society to lack any real mythology or story, and thus is historic for being without any purpose above that of material capitalism. It is a marvel that for all our desire to defeat Marxism, we swallowed its major tenet that our main purpose is to be a good drone for the hive. And Christian schooling seems dedicated to propagating such things with its focus upon busy-ness as taking the place of true rigorous learning.
A great moment was the two forms of laziness we discussed. The first lazy man is the one who stays in bed in all day. The second lazy man gets up, goes to work/school, and stays busy all day with no purpose and thus does not get anything done for a purpose. Neither is actually accomplishing anything.
We are on a break now, and I am full of thoughts about how to make school more a place that fits its name. This evening we are getting with an artist to discuss how beauty fits into education through art. I will blog on it separately.