Thursday, August 7, 2014

CiRCE Conference 2014 -- some tidbits

Pre-conference session with John Mark Reynolds

Worry less about the condition of your child's soul and more about yours -- he's going to imitate you, you know.

Your calling is towards your own relationship with Christ.

“The important thing is to prepare your kids to die well.  That’s the only thing they are all going to do.”

Find a good teacher and you'll find a place where they "waste time."

The only way to teach math is the Platonic way -- you poke them.

The 1940s and 50s changed the way math was taught -- didn't need kids to understand it, just be able DO it efficiently so that they could become scientists and engineers and help us beat the Russians.

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Teaching is leading the student from the known to the unknown according to the student's nature. (Andrew Kern)

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I could listen to John Hodges quote Shakespeare and Scripture and talk about music all day long.  Y'all have to listen to the Brahms' requiem Ein Deutsche Requiem (op 45), especially if you're familiar with traditional requiems.

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Piety, Imitation, and Art:  A Circle of Paideia -- Ravi Jain

Gymnastic (training the body) and Music (tuning the heart) are the foundation of education.  By "Music" he means the nine Muses, so practically everything I've been accustomed to think of as an education (literature, history, and the rest) are actually the foundation, not the education itself!

In teaching math, you should recapitulate with your students the narrative and discoveries of mathematics, so that they're as close as possible to the wonder, awe, and mystery of Math.

Math is concerned with proofs -- this is the Logos, the unifying principle of math.

Let your students come up with their own proofs.

Textbooks help mediate the conversation [i.e. don't abandon them, but don't follow them slavishly].

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The Three Paths to Wisdom -- Paula Flint

"By three methods we may learn wisdom; first by reflection which is the noblest, second by imitation which is the easiest, and third by experience which is the most bitter." (Confucius)
Nature is the first classroom.

Reflection comes after experience and imitation -- it's a harder level and takes time.

In imitation we benefit from past accomplishments.

As teachers and parents we need to think in terms of building good habits.  Good habits make life easier, freer.  It's not about punishment -- it's about helping children live a good life.

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St. Augustine and the Dialectic of Desire -- Wes Callihan

Cicero had a daughter named Hortensia who was a famous orator -- she spoke before the Senate!  Cicero wrote a book named after her, Hortensio.  It was an encouragement to philosophy, and sadly, is lost.

Practically everything you know and believe, you believe by faith. If you had to prove everything you'd never get anywhere. We are finite beings, so it's our nature to live by faith.

"Beatrice" is not the thing the soul is made for -- she is the reminder of the thing the soul is made for.  [This reminds me of CS Lewis's Surprised by Joy.]

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With Hobbits on the Road to Wisdom -- Andrew Seely

Homer wrote great works that are for his time -- we have to educate ourselves for them to have a real affect on us.  But Tolkien is for our time -- we don't have to do any groundwork before coming to his work.

All the stories told during The Lord of the Rings were Frodo's education, to that he could make the right decision at Parth Galen.  Frodo has a new heart which is trustworthy.  When he pities Gollum, he is able to follow his heart instead of his old ideas of justice.

The temptation for anyone who has made their home life beautiful is to cut themselves off from the rest of the world.

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[More later.  I'm tired now.]


  1. Oh, I can't wait for the MP3s. The topic this year made me really seriously consider trying to make it there in person, but it wasn't feasible.

    I'm contemplating your last one in particular: "The temptation for anyone who has made their home life beautiful is to cut themselves off from the rest of the world." Ouch. I can see that.

    1. Don't I know it. He said more that I needed to hear. I really think that Hobbit society is just about perfect, and he pointed out a lot of strengths, but it turns out the very strengths tend to be weaknesses, too.


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