What Does ChatGPT Mean For English Class?

“Writing teachers cannot assign the volume of writing homework necessary to turn bad writers into good ones. At worst, ChatGPT is going to get a few liars and scoundrels out of writing two or three papers a year, but writing those papers wasn’t going to do them much good anyway.

However, if teachers begin using ChatGPT, even good students will suffer, and it ought to be admitted that the average school is far more apt to police the use of ChatGPT among students than teachers. How so? Well, there are probably teachers in every school in the country who bust students for copying and pasting Wikipedia articles into their research papers, but who do not themselves credit the regular use of Wikipedia articles for their lectures (or sermons). Who can say how many literature classes are now nothing more than Spark Notes articles talking to themselves? In other words, ChatGPT creates banal work, but most student work is already banal. However, if teachers come to use ChatGPT, it will mean the further normalization of banality all around.”

-my latest for CiRCE

January Vibes Only

For a cold gray day or cold gray evening. Sort of jazz, sort of ambient, occasionally beautiful, completely German. Put it on and forget about it, or put it on and sort of enjoy it. Worth the sixty seconds it takes to preview.

Starting A Classical School? Here’s Five Things You Have To Get Right The First Time

“Every year, classical Christian schools open by the dozen. Many start with fewer than forty students, but it is not unusual to see a classical school go from forty students to one hundred in less than a decade, and that decade goes fast. Despite how common such growth is, many schools are not founded on practices and ideals which will serve the student body well once it triples or quadruples in size. Granted, there are certain issues a school can figure out as it goes. The student handbook doesn’t have to be perfect on day one. However, there are certain issues which a new school ought to have sorted out once and for all before they even open their doors.”

-from my latest for CiRCE

Cells. Interlinked.

There are Twitter accounts of mid-level Christian intellectuals I check in on occasionally so I remember what it looks like to be a functional intellectual who isn’t a slave to followers and fame.

There are Twitter accounts of mid-level Christian intellectuals I check in on occasionally so I remember what it looks like to be a non-functional intellectual who is trying to amass followers and fame.

Wisdom Literature for Beginners Starts This Friday

Registration is still open for Wisdom Literature for Beginners, the Spring class I am offering through Gibbs Classical. The reading schedule is very light and the lectures will be dense and focused. Here is our schedule:

January 13: The Consolation of Philosophy (Book 1) 

January 20: Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1

January 27: Consolation (Book 1), Ecclesiastes 2

February 3: Consolation (Book 1) 

February 10: Ecclesiastes 3

February 17: Consolation (Book 1), Ecclesiastes 4

February 24: Consolation (Book 2), Ecclesiastes 5

March 3: Consolation (Book 2), Ecclesiastes 6

March 10: Consolation (Book 2), Ecclesiastes 7

March 17: Consolation (Book 3), Ecclesiastes 8

March 24: Consolation (Book 3), Ecclesiastes 9

March 31: Consolation (Book 3), Ecclesiastes 10

April 7: Consolation (Book 4), Ecclesiastes 11

April 14: Consolation (Book 4), Ecclesiastes 12

April 21: Consolation (Book 4 and 5)

April 28: Consolation (Book 5)

The class is available on the Student Level and the Auditor Level. You can read more about the class or register here.

First Good Book I Read This Year

This is really quite short, but delightful, albeit in a bleak, nihilistic sort of way. I only recently learned of Caroline Blackwood, but this title was good enough I plan on tracking down her other work. Given her upbringing, I get the sense this one is not exactly fictional. It’s more of a composite “like New York magazine does,” as per Stillman.

How To Keep Classical Christian Education From Falling Apart

“Imagine a league of eight or ten classical Christian schools forming in the future over a shared frustration that the “classical Christian” designation had come to mean so little. Suppose membership in this league were based on obedience to a number of cultural credos, like no smart phones or social media among students (or maybe even teachers), no video games, no sports program, and a deeper time commitment to fine arts than a school with a sports program can really imagine. The moment this league of schools got a six-figure donation, which wouldn’t take all that long, it would have little reason to maintain the “classical Christian” title.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the classical Christian schools which decide to ban smart phones, social media, and forgo a sports program (and to spend all their sports time on dances, choral performances, art shows, the memorization of poetry, a robust and mandatory drama program) adopt the name “great tradition schools.” There is strength in numbers, of course, but in the beginning, only ten schools are founding members of The League of Great Tradition Schools. The League puts forward a short credo which acknowledges various debts to the classical Christian movement, outlines critiques of the movement, and puts forward a cultural program to be pursued in addition to Latin, rhetoric, Great Books, and so forth. This cultural program is viewed as having equal importance with academic studies and becomes the simple rubric by which prospective families are sorted. Over the first three years of its existence, the league goes from ten schools to twelve to fifteen. Then, in the same way various private Christian schools have “converted” to the classical model over the last twenty years, various classical Christian schools begin converting to what comes to be known as “the Great Tradition model.” Ditching basketball and soccer is no less a tough sell than taking on Latin, and the conversions are typically rocky and often fail. On the other hand, people are willing to move hundreds of miles to send their children to a Great Tradition school, just as they used to move hundreds of miles for classical Christian schools.

Over the following decade, Great Tradition schools begin soaking up all the families and teachers in classical Christian education that were most committed to old books, old aesthetics, and old morals. Consequently, classical Christian schools are able to more openly pursue programs of “cultural engagement,” “world-changing,” and “community” which their luddite co-laborers had held up for years. With those people gone, though, John Piper replaces Augustine, laptops debut in the classroom, Latin is replaced with Spanish “so that we can more easily accomplish the Great Commission,” and the JV pickleball team gets third in state. Classical Christian schools gradually become the school of choice for people who attend churches like The Mountain, The Drive, Wave, Disc, Glitter, The Holy Spirit Hole, Ruby Room, Jesus Vibe, Highland Spirit Club, and, of course, Sponge.TV Faith Café, whereas Great Tradition schools are populated by attendees of First Presbyterian and St. Prude Catholic. As opposed to connoting Plato and Augustine, the “classical” part of classical Christian education comes merely to mean an opposition to gay stuff, evolution, socialism, and critical race theory. Thoughtful people begin looking at classical Christian schools and asking, “In what sense is this really classical?” To be fair, though, there are people asking that question today.”

-from How To Keep The Classical Christian Movement From Falling Apart, my latest for CiRCE