Thursday, November 15, 2007

Education is Books

Well, maybe education is not simply books but it is quite clearly learning to read books. Learning to read involves more than just phonics. I am still learning how to read. But Carlyle's insight into how education has changed over the years is very helpful to us.

Have a look at any home school curriculum guide or brochure. The shear number of materials is mind boggling. I am very thankful that having another option in education has produced such a vast array, if not dizzying array of educational materials. This is a good thing.

However, many home schoolers lose the forest for the trees in the same way that their local government schools do or even their well-meaning Christian school does. The result is a frenetic approach to education that can be a detriment to real learning as well as to home and church life.

What is the goal of education?

Carlyle says this, "If we think of it, all a University, or final highest school can do for us, is still what the first school began doing,-- teach us to read. We learn to read, in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. But the place where we are to get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all manner of Professors have done their best for us. The true University of these days is a Collection of Books." (emphasis his)


Motivated by the reading of Rory Stewart, I have been making my way through Thomas Carlyle's essays on heroes. They are very good. Some of his heroes may bother you but keep plowing through. He has some good things to say and in saying them, it becomes clear to one that our times have changed, that our ideas of heroes, or even the concept of real heroes, has dramatically changed.

Carlyle's preeminent virtue among all of his heroes is sincerity. He gives Mahomet, Rousseau and even Nitzsche high marks for being sincere. Part of this is certainly true. A man is nothing less than a rogue if he is not sincere. If he is manipulating people for anything less than his own sincere belief, then he ought not to be considered anybody's hero. I grant that much.

But what of the man who is sincerely wrong? And not wrong is some superficial triviality but wrong in the big things? Wrong in the pursuit of God? Wrong in the application of government? Wrong in the necessity of reformation or even of revolution?

Carlyle forgives much as long as the man possesses this great virtue of sincerity. Of course, we are those who stand on the truth of Scripture in the ultimate things. But Carlyle is driving at something other than that in these lectures. He is driving at what makes a great man great, whether famous or infamous. And to that end, his lectures are well worth reading.

Not Dead

It's been a while. I've not been idle. I promise. I hope that means that I have been busy but I fear that it really means that I have simply been too inefficient.

Our school year is off and running. Our church is doing well. The wind is blowing. The temperatures are falling and thanksgivings fill the air.

God is always good.

He has blessed me with a new schedule; one I hope will enable me to be more productive.

We'll see.

Projects purposed include finishing the running posts and doing some more work on the child rearing booklet.

Lord willing, those posts will be forthcoming.