Quite often, “teaching students how to think” simply means “teaching students how to criticize.” Teaching students how to criticize will not “irrigate deserts,” as Lewis put it, which is why so many 18 year-old Christian critics/analysts are men without chests who summarily quit church as soon as they can.
This one is marked collaborative, so after you get the mood, feel free to add to it.
“Unfinished Sympathy” and “Before Today” were narrowly cut at the end because they are just too crisp. This one ought to be all sweaters, sick days, and space heaters.
I am teaching Pride & Prejudice this year for the first time since instituting catechisms in my classroom. Oddly enough, the book is entirely bereft of passages that might suit a catechism. Austen’s brilliance is real, but known only in slow accumulations. Despite her deep understanding of human nature, she is one of the least quotable authors I can name.
“New humanities teachers are often given massive manuals (compiled by previous teachers to satisfy accreditation requirements) and told, ‘This is how to teach this class.’ The existence of such manuals is a comfort to administrators and a terror to everyone else. Why? For the same reason bureaucracy is always a terror to reasonable people.”
-from Stop Saddling New Teachers With Pointless Bureaucracy, my latest for CiRCE
Sam Kriss’s review of Dostoyevsky’s Demons is not perfect, but it embodies the sort of ambition and verve that inspires fellow essayists (and makes them a little jealous, if I am being honest).
There was no basketball player who photographed better than Shawn Kemp. More of his cards manifest beauty of form than any other player.
Camilla: Do you have an iPod I could have?
Gibbs: I have something even better. Something unlike anything your classmates have ever seen.
There is a certain kind of fellow whose intellectual interest in some traditional theological position grows even as his own interest (or ability) in living out the implications of that theology decline. In fact, he believes his right to indulge the flesh is purchased by his vehement condemnation of the same indulgence.
“When reading and discussing Pride & Prejudice with my students, I explained they would all meet Charlotte Lucas someday. ‘When you’re in your early thirties, you will someday be invited into the home of a young married couple, perhaps some friends, whose children are wildly disobedient, profoundly unhappy, and yet the couple will dispense advice on childrearing all evening. If you have any common sense, you and your spouse will resolve on the car ride home to do the opposite of whatever that couple said to do, and perhaps also resolve to not dispense any childrearing advice at all to your friends in the future, lest they think you as lacking in self-awareness as the couple whose home you have just departed.’ By the end of Pride & Prejudice, Charlotte has entered into an unhappy marriage precisely because she has followed her own advice, and Jane has entered into a happy one because she has done the exact opposite. “
-from Why We Need Jane Austen More Than Ever, my latest for CiRCE
Recorded in the early 70s, not released until 2006, this record sounds like every inch of the cover.