In the past summer has always been a time of contemplating and refreshing for the year ahead. There have seemed to be themes connected to these summer ponderings, themes that make my inner geek erupt into a happy dance. Two summers ago, I remember that I was immersed in the thoughts of educational liturgy, last summer was full of Jenny Rallens and how she combats memory loss in her students. I am thankful to the Lord that He gives me these little pockets of schole to awaken my soul by the wonder of these ponderings.
This summer there appears to be a few threads of ponderings going on that is causing my level of excitement to rise. First, Circe has started yet another podcast series but this one is solely on Charlotte Mason (be still, my rapidly beating heart!) The co-host is Cindy Rollins and for each podcast they will talk about a different aspect of the CM philosophy with a different guest. I listened to the first podcast already and, do I dare admit it? I cried during the first few minutes. I know. But it was the combination of the opening music (it was so beautiful) and the CM quotes that David Kern read that just did me in. I quite enjoyed this podcast and I am eagerly awaiting the next month’s edition.
So my week got off to a great start with that gift and then I read Brandy’s post on The Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark. Brandy is doing a series of posts on this book but this week’s post had to do with the tree that is pictured in the beginning of the book. It is a simple drawing; at the bottom of the tree, the root system is piety; entangling itself for the trunk are the six components that make up the liberal arts–gymnastics, music, natural philosophy, moral philosophy, trivium and the quadrivium; above the trunk are leaves and apples named love, beauty, truth, goodness, virtue; then overarching it all is theology. =This picture is simple but, to me, it speaks volumes about how real education should look.
This tree revved up my juices of connection. Walk with me here. Last year, the kids and I studied and drew virtue trees. At the bottom of the tree, in the root system, is humility. In order to bring forth virtue in your life, there needs to be humility. Arrogance does not breed virtue, it breeds vice. That slammed hard into me when we were looking at these trees. Then about a month after that I read Consider This by Karen Glass, a book about Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. Glass reiterates throughout the book that the key to classical education is humility, humility in acknowledging that you don’t know everything and humility in teaching. This, too slammed hard into me.
And then we come to this tree that is to represent the workings of classical education. Now the root system for this tree is not humility but piety. I must confess here that I am not sure as to the definition of piety. I looked it up and it says that piety is the devotion to God and that humility is an element of piety. In the comment section of Brandy’s post, there was discussion on where actually humility fits in to this picture of the tree. Someone suggested that maybe humility is the soil in which the root system of piety can grow and blossom. I like that analogy, that fits in with my thoughts and gives me more to think on.
There was also discussion in that same comment section about whether truth, beauty and goodness can be/should be construed as fruit from that tree. Some thought that they weren’t fruit but should be included in the side of the tree, maybe in the trunk or it should be slotted in as part of the root system, the foundation of the tree. I gave this much thought and I came to this conclusion: before I came to learning about classical education, I did not know anything about what was true, beautiful or good; my thoughts on these things were based on what the culture around me construed as true, beautiful and good. There is a discrepancy between what culture views as beautiful and what is truly beautiful. Subjectivism plays a part on culture’s views of those three virtues. I needed the grounding of those six components found in the trunk to teach me/show me what was truly good, beautiful and true. In solidifying myself in those six components, I have been able to expand my view of the ‘famous three.’ So should truth, beauty, and goodness be viewed as fruit? I’m not sure, but I do think they need to be placed above the trunk of the tree.
These connections fired me up and led me to start re-reading The Liberal Arts Tradition and Consider This. I find it amusing that I had read The Liberal Arts Tradition last spring and I did not like it. It seemed too clinical to me, to public school-ish in the way that it was written but in reading the first few chapters recently I am finding that I am slowly liking it after all. I am enjoying their thoughts that education needs to be a whole process not just a teaching of the intellect but a filling of the heart and mind. I will talk about that later but, for now, suffice it to say that I am happy that I have returned to this book and am able to see it in a different light. I am also tickled pink about all of these connections that are floating around me.