Against: Grist For The Mill

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.

Jane Austen’s Unusual Brilliance

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.

Let’s Direct A Critical Eye At Accreditation

“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

Varieties Of Hypocrisy

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.

Why We Need Jane Austen More Than Ever

“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