In Praise of Difficult Students

“Just as small-minded administrators, parents, and students cannot distinguish between different kinds of difficult teachers, small-minded teachers lump every sort of difficult student into the same “bad” bunch. A disobedient student is a liar, a cheat, a scofflaw who disregards small rules, a queen bee enthralled by the shallowness of popular culture, a bully whose parents continually excuse sin with appeals to grace, stress, and extenuating circumstances. However, a difficult student bound for greatness might create the same number of headaches as a disobedient student, but wise teachers discern the path of greatness unfolding in the difficult student’s soul.”

-from my latest for CiRCE

Persuasion (2022)

The Netflix adaptation of Persuasion is a hot algorithmic mess which helplessly bites half a dozen better sources (a more appropriate title for the film would have been Jane Austen’s Fleabag), and yet I was pleased to find the zeitgeist has moved on from “self-care,” which is now a punchline subject to open mockery and scorn.

The Downside Of Luxury

If a man does not have enough real problems, he will invent fake ones. Fake problems are even more destructive than real problems. Why? Real problems can prompt people to seek real solutions, but fake problems only prompt fake solutions. The man with fake problems is not only stuck with a certain level of fakeness, he is actively seeking out even more fakeness.

How To Show A Video In The Classroom

“Many teachers defend showing videos in class on the grounds they’re “educational,” but this proves far too little. You can teach children data with a screen, but data isn’t formational. Screens are formational, though. A little child who uses videos to learn the alphabet may learn his subject much faster than a little child learning the alphabet with books, but he also learns to depend on screens and, years later, lacks a compelling reason to read Pride & Prejudice when watching the miniseries is faster and more fun. If your goal is to raise readers, using videos to teach them to read will get them literate faster, but that won’t mean they want to read books. The same is true of videos which teach history, science, or philosophy. Videos make everything faster and more fun. Within a classical framework, though, this is a compelling reason to not use them in the classroom.”

-from my latest for CiRCE

Is Classical Christian Education Necessarily Racist?

“One of the first objections skeptics raise to classical Christian education is the insistence that slavery is old and so classical Christian education must be racist given it vindicates everything old; however, classicism does not vindicate everything old. It assumes the goodness of things which last, and slavery is a human institution which has been defeated many, many times by Christian people. It is not a tradition which has been faithfully handed down from one generation to another across the centuries, as have been the works of Homer or the sacrament of confession. As with prostitution, slavery is an evil which Christian people battle over and over again. Classical Christians believe the most persuasive arguments against racist ideologies are found not in the fashionable beliefs of our day, which come and go, but in the writings and sermons of St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom.”

-from “A Short Introduction to Classical Christian Education,” coming soon through