Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Soundtrack for a workday

An unlikely pair:

A philosophy paper on classical education
the music of The Doors from Night Divides the Day by George Winston.

Go figure! Last week as we took a long and slow drive on the Parkway to see the autumn colors, we listened to Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) interview one of the early musicians of The Doors. That probably explains part of this combination. But if you remember, most of The Doors music was a result of hallucinogenic drug trips.

Of course, George Winston on the piano can make anything worth listening to.

So, the combination of The Doors and the philosophy of classical education says what?

My favorite tract is "People Are Strange" can be heard here (Windows Media) or here (RealOne).

Back to work......


Patty in WA said...

I just saw your question on TWTM about whether "classical" is a philosophy or a methodology--is that the paper you are writing?

It is probably too late for a response, but I'm going to do one here anyway. HA! I think it is truly a philosophy that drives a methodology if it is done well, but most implementations of it that I *see in practice* in school or homeschool settings reduce it to less than even a methodology. What I see happening in most cases, where the philosophy is not truly embraced, is a selection of *content* that is generally approached with largely the same methodology as any other school of the past 50 years.

For example, I know of schools that talk about being classical, but the actual implementation is traditional with classical subjects. So the kids study Latin, or read a "better book" but it is still by filling out worksheets or passing tests or answering "for your comprehension" questions at the end of each chapter (fill in the blank, please).

The goals are still "college prep" or "great SAT scores" instead of virtue or the building of a soul. Those goals are done by "church" or whatever securlar people use as their "force for good". It's compartmentalized.

Only the rich were "classically educated" in the old days, and part of the reason for this is that the methods of classical education--tutorial, Socratic, individualized and integrated--cost a lot. They cost a lot of caring and a lot of money. This is no less true today than it has been in the past.

Now, I also happen to believe that it is better that kids are reading better books, learning Latin, etc., even if it is "classical lite". We have to start somewhere. And that would include me. I am imperfect (understatement of the year)in my implementation of the philosophy.

Seasonal Soundings said...

I think you are absolutely right, Patty. Especially about classical schools. It is (almost) disheartening because to achieve something even miles away from the ideal, it takes teachers who know the how and why, students who are moldable, and parents who are willing.

Our society just doesn't seem to want to do it. Maybe it can't. Maybe we are so far removed that we can't do it anywhere but in and from the home. Individually, but not institutionally.

Patty in WA said...

In our immediate area, meaning that I physically *could* send my kid to these schools, there are 6 schools that designate themselves as classical. I think *one* of them is possibly doing more than methodology, but I fear for their survival. It is just too expensive. They have waaaay too low a student:teacher ratio to let the teachers earn a living doing this. The thing that gives me hope for them, however, is that they have not bought into the premises of modern schooling..they do not issue grades, they do not have a "college prep" course of study, they have a unitive underlying their implementation. But I don't know if you can find enough customers in the world today who won't freak out that there isn't a SAT Prep class or a varsity football team. Even the most successful of the schools that attach a classical label to themselves have had trouble retaining their high schoolers because of the small *athletic* program. Which tells me that there is not true buy-in from the parents at the level of philosophy.

I am, however, keeping my eye on that one school...I am finding through our co-op this year that it is a benefit to my only child to have other kids around in the writing and science and art classes in particular. Math and others are fine on our own...but there is something about writing in particular that needs other people involved.