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Ester Maria

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Everything posted by Ester Maria

  1. Best of luck to you, Mr. Kern. Specifics and definitions aside, we probably have more in common than it seems, in terms of appreciation of this heritage and a pursuit to relate to it somehow, and generally better ourselves and learn. I highly respect that and I love when I see it. (I would not like to give you an impression, though, that it was more impressive than it actually was. In hindsight, I found deficiencies and had to self-educate to remember and further my knowledge too. Still, I opted to save what I acquired and share with my children. :)) I think this is the point at which same texts can be used by different people for different things. :tongue_smilie:
  2. It depends on what you consider historical fiction, LOL. Regarding more classical literature which can pass as historical fiction: M. Yourcenar's Hadrian's memoirs. This is probably the only "historical fiction" I have specifically assigned so far to match with history, and depending on the DC's maturity, you can read it as early as middle school, even though it is technically an adult level work. This is a historical fiction of the "fake autobiography" kind. HIGHLY recommended. U. Eco's The Name of the Rose could probably fall into this category too - although it is postmodern / mixed genre, with the detective structure as its primary mechanism. A high school / adult level thing, although some younger students might be able to appreciate it. Manzoni's The Bethroted and Tolstoy's War and Peace are more classical examples - both of them are set in historical epochs preceding by large the epochs in which they were written; Tolstoy's is centered around Napoleon, specifically, Manzoni is in 17th century northern Italy (Milan plague, Spanish rule, etc.). Manzoni can (and is) read by older middle years students, Tolstoy is typically a bite too large for them to successfully chew until mid high school and later.
  3. They have a point: that situation is a clear case of double dipping. Conversational classes usually follow a grammar study, do not precede it. When you take a conversational language class, it often means you already know the language well enough to actually communicate, for a conversational class to make sense. If it were up to me, I would not allow you to count that twice either. Now, to your actual question: I would consider it a separate literature course, a 1.0 credit worth, which you can as well group with other literature courses, IF, like Lori said, you actually do all of it with supplementary readings. If not, I think it is WAY more along the lines of a 0.5 course elective, which FWIW you can as well call a simple LOTR study. I am basing these estimates on my daughter's work this year.
  4. Correct it every time when you hear it misused at home, just like you would do with any other language inaccuracy that is particularly irritating to you. :D
  5. It is not only about how many people you have reached, obviously there was no unanimous acceptance... But okay, different strokes for different folks. If it spoke to many and they are happy with it, awesome. Same thing which can be said in this our context, LOL. Whatever. The whole thing is beginning to drain me, and I am becoming uncomfortable with discussing a specific person to these lengths, although most of the discussion has been more general than that. To sum it up, I recognize that everyone has a full right to express whatever views and values they hold, regardless of their credentials or a personal level of scholarship - but I also think that other people have a right to determine the validity or applicability of such views for themselves, and if they find it important, to determine it also, amongst other things, on such factors. I think it is awesome if Mr. Kern "clicks" with his intended audience and of course, people find helpful ideas all over, so his institute can for many be just another source of helpful ideas. In that light, all is good, obviously everything will speak to some people and not to others. Most of my criticism was exclusively in light of the fact that he advocates certain things professionally (I cannot emphasize this enough. I think there is a huge difference between being a scenario of being just another anonymous on the internet and a scenario of founding an institute for something / holding public lectures on it / overall working publicly on something.) without what I personally perceive, within my value system, as minimal requirements to do so. But then again, I part with the majority view often regarding what are minimal requirements to do something, so you may consider all of this as my own idiosyncrasy. Apologies to Mr. Kern if he reads this and if he felt that my discussion of him specifically - in the context of more broad generalties - has gone too far, to a point he would consider rude and overly insistent, rather than "just" a disagreement. So, I am bowing out of discussing any specific people from this point on because I am uncomfortable with it.
  6. This is exactly my problem. They are not "useful as a tool" - they are PREREQUISITES for a SERIOUS study of texts in those languages. I was under the impression that your view was MORE along the "useful a tool" lines, which *I* disagree with, because I view them as essentials. I do not think Mr. Kern has to have been educated, as a child, in a particular educational model. People do not choose who they are going to be born and what kind of education will be thrown at them in their cultures and by their families. I do think, however, that anyone who professionally advocates for something has to have acquired, even as an adult, what they talk about. I am also not sure what to think of the idea that he did not have a chance to better his own competences in the era of such technology that these things are literally a click away. :confused: All of the ancient texts and most of old grammars are out of copyright and downloadable free of cost. I would consider a thorough self-study to be a minimal requirement for somebody who advocates for it, although I agree with NASDAQ that ideally, one would be formally academically educated in that vein. Of course, people have different priorities and different values as to what consititutes a problematic thing to do, so I do not pretend you, or he, or anyone, necessarily share mine. Words are not "pointers" of the kind that you can easily replace one label with another label. Language is not a nomenclature. Languages differ in some very basic parsing of reality, not only in labels they attach to things. THAT is why translation is difficult and why machine translation has serious issues with memetically burdened texts. (That was a Jewish, not a Christian thought.)
  7. Maybe we disagree as to what is "bad comprehension"? Who is the arbiter of their bad comprehension, anyway? I think, in any case, that the arbiter has to be on the same level of scholarship as them - somebody who can also access the text in the original. Yes, because I do not define it by method (I am still puzzled as to what "teaching classically" exactly means), but by content (I know what are the contents of "classical education"). I do not think being a first year college level in a language classifies as "having the skill partly" in any but the most literal sense (in the same sense in which anyone who can read the Greek alphabet has the skill partly - but such a tiny part of it that it is silly to take it into account). To me it sounds like Mr. Kern knows less Greek than I know Aramaic, and I would never dream of discussing anything specifically related to Aramaic under a professional guise. I cannot fathom doing it, and nope, I cannot fathom professionally advocating for something I have not mastered myself. Furthermore, I am capable of divorcing his linguistic competences from the validity of his general ideas. As somebody who actually received, as a child, the kind of classical education (albeit in a spirit of a different national tradition) that many people here are attempting to do, and who has that as a living culture in her broad family, his ideas (and not only his) often sound very "weird" to me. I find it interesting, in a way, to see how another culture conceives "classical education", but it is in many ways a total mismatch from what I know as such. But what do those things even MEAN to you, Bluegoat? (the bolded ones; bolding mine) This is my main issue. Y'all are talking in totally vague terms, which I do not think can be applied as categories to much of what you are talking about (literature and truth? fictio is a separate category from either verum or falsum). The study of classical civilizations has always been about a philological study first and foremost, not any kind of romanticized "picking up the values". What it was always about is that kind of study - that is how I was taught and what I received as a notion of what is classical education. Not "picking up the values" nor generalties of truth, beauty, whatever. It was about a CONCRETE basis of certain knowledge, and a living tradition in sense of having that knowledge, appreciating it aesthetically, and passing it on - not in sense of trying to "copy" the ancients in our values, lifestyle, pedagogy or anything like that. (Furthermore, my approach to litarary theory is not exactly "modern" and is quite an oddball in much of the academic mainstream, but that is an off topic already.)
  8. Agreed, on all counts - maybe I should have been a bit more precise in my wording earlier. :)
  9. The positives: 1) I have been always focusing on the concrete content I wanted to teach, not on the curriculum - which brough about a lot of mixing and matching along the way, but I knew what I was doing, so the mishmash of things I typically used was typically successful. I think it is very important to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish to be able to accomplish it in the first place. 2) My kids are very independent and proactive about their learning and other things in life. 3) I think the philological component of their education turned out pretty neat. The negatives: 1) Delayed musical education. I will not be "democratic" with the next child, I often cannot believe how come I let the practical musical education slide in the grand scheme of things. It cost my eldest a lot of nerves when she decided to pick up an instrument at a taaaaad bit 'old' age (old in the sense of de facto closing her the door of professionalism, should she want to go there). My mistake for not insisting on it earlier. Music is my single biggest regret. 2) I messed up French. Which sort of contradicts 3) of positives, but I really messed that up - too much delaying, too much "they will pick it up via travel", starting to study it seriously at 13, rather than 8-9, at latest, as we should have. Thank Heavens their native language is a Romance one, so they can progress exponentially in French and at the end of the day the difference will probably not be felt, but I should have done it earlier. I should have postponed classics and emphasized modern foreign languages more in the earlier years. The next kid will possibly be off to Alliance's "half-daycare" at 3-4 for a few years (I am going to schedule it the way I get a de facto French babysitting while I run errands :tongue_smilie:, should we live in a place where it is reasonably nearby) and then study French as a regular school subject from the very first grade. French is too important to us to repeat that mistake again.
  10. I do not see a discrepancy between native languages (well, the native language & the "de facto" second native language) - but I do see with foreign languages, because it often takes a while to pick up the correct intonation and "flow"... and if you have a different script there, it gets even more interesting, because even though children can read it silently with an adequate speed, reading it aloud at the same time they are decoding it mentally can interfere a bit, I think they are always a bit slower with that unless they consciously practice - that is where I saw the improvement.
  11. We will have to agree to disagree on this point, then. :) I do think that it is a matter of intellectual honesty to personally own the material you are professionally advocating about. If one does not own it themselves, I do not see how they can (i) have any kind of a "serious" stance on it anyway in the first place, nor (ii) take upon themselves the courage of presenting themselves as though they did, professionally, without hefty disclaimers along the way. This is not to say, of course, that Mr. Kern - or anyone else for that matter - has to share my, or NASDAQ's, or anyone else's values on these things. I have never met these people you are talking about. Furthermore, I completely disagree with your last statement and find it a bit funny that you would put people such as, presumably, yourself (or anyone else who, presumably, "comprehends the mindset of an ancient Greek or Roman") on a higher professional and scholarship level than people who actually can read the original sources. I have never met a person who is a serious classicist and who does not comprehend things - but I did encounter a lot of mystifications, general nonsense, and superficial generalties amongst the crowd who does not read classical languages. On a level high enough, you cannot separate language from thought. I always marvel people who think that reading translations and reading the original thing is the "same", if you can "get the idea". Bialik (I think?) had a perfect comparison: "Reading Bible in translation is like kissing your loved one through a veil." Same thing here. I think most people who do not possess adequate language skills cannot even begin to understand things on a more serious level - which is why a thorough philological education is a prerequisite for this type of studies, not an "extra". ETA: Bluegoat, do you speak any foreign languages to a level high enough to read the original literary texts in them with reasonable facility (not necessarily that you understand every. single. word. - but at the same time, that the language is not a tangible obstacle for you)? I do apologize for putting you on spot by asking it so directly, but I am really puzzled by your comments and by with what ease you seem to be disregarding the value of having the language as a tool, and in my experience people who do that typically do not possess that ability themselves, so I was curious whether or you do not, or you do and really just have a drastically different view of it (which I am afraid I will not be able to understand, probably). What makes a text artistic (= literary) is the form, not the content. Literary texts do not focus on transferring information. The emphasized linguistic function in them is not the referential one (do you know what I am talking about, though? because I think you do not differentiate between form / content / meaning the way that I do). The level of ideas contained inside the text is a different level - it is "literature as philosophy", "literature as sociology", "literature as psychology", rather than "literature as art". And sure, I do that - but each within a different context. Who said anything about "limiting" it to that? :confused: One's education does not include only that classical component. My children study modern foreign languages additionally to Latin and Greek (not instead of them) and go through all of the standard history / art history / philosophy progression, which of course includes a snapshot of the Western canon in literature, with a particular bent towards their native languages. Who said anything about limiting our children's educations to the classical component? It is ONE of SEVERAL components which make up their education.
  12. He is probably not ready. There is a reason why many school systems have kids start at 6-7 years old, and particularly boys often profit from an additionally delayed entrance. Put the books aside for a few months, or for the rest of this year, and start anew when he matures a little.
  13. Okay, better, now I can understand some of where you come from. :) I use "classical studies" in a more narrow sense, while I would call what you describe "Western civilization studies", "Western humanities", or I would give it any other similarly broad label. I therefore see Greece and Rome to be "classical", the transformation / meshing of the medieval period as perhaps "post-classical", if you insist (which is in the standard academic jargon also applied to the phases of the Latin language, i.e. one differs classical from post-classical Latin). Additionally, I would speak of "classics" or arts in Western culture that are not chronologically "classical", but became a part of the established shared canon (literary, musical, etc.) - but that would be a mere coincidence, same label for different things, rather than because I see those as two facets of the same thing. So, on one hand, I use a "technical", narrow definition; on the other hand, I speak of "classics" colloquially sometimes even when I do not refer to Greece and Rome. There is a distinction in my mind, though. It is not my position on meaning in art - it is my position on the focus in theoretical education about art. I did not even touch on the "meaning" part (on purpose), I spoke exclusively about the content and formal qualities. As regards majority position, why would it even be a concern for me? Are the opinions of the previous generations binding? My scientific notions largely differ from theirs, so do my basic aesthetic sensibilities (in terms of food, clothes, living culture, centuries of art production which impact my views but did not impact theirs, etc.). Furthermore, within each loose epoch, there is a variety of sensibilities and opinions. While we can certainly individuate certain trends based on the texts that have remained, the validity of a position has little to do with the number of people who hold it. I am not sure what they "considered", unless I consider texts additional to those I study, which are not of a literary but of an autobiographical nature, or correspondances, such stuff. I know from what position I access that heritage today, and I know what I can reasonably know about their motivations - but why would those even interest me, for the most part, if it is their works that I am principally interested in? A general cultural context is something that is kept in mind, but one must be careful not to overgeneralize it, too. Also, one must be very careful not to read the context as though it was the text. You are imputing things to me. :D Teaching arts (incl. literature) in the context of theoretical education about arts (incl. literature) has to be form-oriented, rooted in the mechanisms by which those arts function. A more "technical" art education, if you wish. That is my position. My other position is that "classical heritage" is limited to classical antiquity. I, of course, teach wider Western (and some non-Western) cultural patrimony as well - but when I talk to my children of classical heritage, it is a rather narrow term. Plato's opinions are Plato's opinions, not mine. I am not bound by his opinions, nor do my opinions have an effect on what is written amongst his. When I teach Plato, I teach what is written in Plato, not my suggestions to Plato what he "should have" written. :D Here we again hit the problem - the topic of that second part of the previous message that I snipped - of the differentiation of artistic texts from non-artistic texts. Plato and Sophocles are two wildly different situations, for example, and I am far from sure we can talk about timeless truths in the same way in both cases.
  14. What do you mean, "even"? Either you studied classical languages and literature (= classics), or you did not. There is no "even" here. :confused: If you studied classics, as in, literary studies of a more general, cross-generational type ("classical literature" of various ages), then that is something VERY different, of course. Then they are not good professionals. As simple as that. If you have an advanced degree in a certain language (heck, even "just" a degree for the most part), you BETTER be able to read it "fluently". It still does not mean that you will not aid yourself with a dictionary where needed or consult greater experts, and of course that your education will never be "complete", but the original text should not be a tangible obstacle for you after a university course of studies in a certain language. If somebody is professionally a classicist without an adequate level of classical languages, it is THEIR shame and it reflects on THEIR academic standards (and, sadly, those of their epoch :glare:) - rather than being a "permission" to deal with the field seriously without the basic tools. Just like every Shakespeare scholar needs to know English (Shakespeare's English, no less! plus "general" English to be able to read scholarship about Shakespeare), just like every Talmudist has to know Hebrew and Aramaic. Those are the preliminary tools of the discipline in each of those cases. What most classically educated kids get is a watered down version, and that is fine, because unless they will be professionally into this, they only need to go through a certain rather narrow "anthological" body of texts (typically selections, rare integral texts) and can supply it some with bilingual editions of the rest. Those kids do classical studies as a part of their general education - not in order to become professional classicists. And then there are more ambitious and less ambitious version of such an education. But let us not kid ourselves, people for whom this is a PROFESSION are not to be judged nearly by the same standards.
  15. To be perfectly blunt, Bluegoat, I am becoming increasinly aware that we do not share the same language. We both employ certain terms, but they apparently mean wildly different things to us. So, first things first. There is no such thing as "the classical, or Western, position" on any matter imaginable. On the other hand, there is such a thing as a certain multi-faceted intellectual tradition within which many matters were discussed and which we can broadly call "Western". Within that same Western intellectual tradition, there are many diverse, not to say openly conflicting opinions on many matters that were discussed in the dialogue of the generations. But there is no such thing as a consensus on any single matter which could be called "the Western position". The use of the word "classical" is another thing you will have to define for me if you want me to proceed talking to you, because this is becoming talking past each other, rather than to each other. You will need to specify whether you are talking about the civilization of classical antiquity (Greece & Rome), or you are talking about a classical something else. Secondly, rethink your use of the word "unique" there when describing my position. Every approach could be termed "unique", in that the combination of the elements out of which it is comprised is not the same combination as in any other approach (obviously, or they would be the same thing). You will need to be more specific about what is so out of mainstream (if that is what you meant) in a more formalist bent when it comes to literature studies. And the next thing I will ask you, so prepare yourself now, is whether the validity of a position is a question of number or inherent consistency of the approach, and whether you would be willing to argue against me as regards the latter to see more specifically what are your issues with my approach. I will also ask you, even if a certain approach is so out of touch with the mainstream (which I am not sure I would argue if I were you), whether having grown out of a tradition or even considering oneself one facet of its continuation obliges one to find it binding. Think very closely about these things before we continue. Thirdly, rather than "being wrong" (in a sort of a moral, or a factual sense), I think it is often a matter of consistency of a position, when it comes to philosophical matters or an angle from which we approach art. And again, "tradition" does not enter here as binding, even if there were an unanimous stance on things (and there is not). There is a heck lot of what we would regard as nonsense today that was written in that "tradition". I recall particularly vividly all those XV century philological discussions on the nature of Latin vs. the vulgar language(s) - much of which would be discarded, or at least very seriously challenged, by any modern linguist. Because the thread of thought has kept on developing, and modern generations do not think the same way, or even within the same categories and with the same starting axioms, as the previous generations. And finally, I am defining "classical studies" in a very primitive, simple fashion: as philological studies of Latin and Greek, the textual studies of the corpus of their texts, of the historical periods of antiquity (including late antiquity and the period of degradation into a medieval culture, but full blown medieval studies are something else and a distinct academic field). As simple as that. The content definition. I need to sleep on the second part of the response to you (I snipped it from the first part), related to literature specifically, before I post it, since I am not sure it is a good idea to do so. :D
  16. I was in the middle of answering the same question in another window when I saw your reply, and you worded it better than me. I agree with this distinction.
  17. Uhm... keep on keeping on? :D I was VERY surprised with the positive effects of going back to the read aloud method (which for native languages we ditched quite early because the girls prefered reading on their own) in foreign languages. It does get better, they just need to practice a lot. It also helps if you take turns when you read (if you can read "authentically" yourself).
  18. I do not think in categories such as "purpose" when it comes to the works of art themselves, I think it is a misapplied category. I do think the primary purpose of a theoretical art instruction (as opposed to application) - whether we talk about music, visual arts or letters - is to individuate the formal principles upon which a work of art rests, relative to the means of expression particular to that art. Then there are secondary purposes, but the primary purpose is what you begin with. The very first work of poetics in the Western tradition deals largely with what would pass for formal considerations today. I do not understand how could one even begin to deny a definite thread of thought along those lines in the Western tradition. ... obviously, since one cannot exist without the other. There is no "truth" as a category applicable to any work of art; even if the work of art encompasses within itself elements from the so-called "real world" (actual historical personages, places which really exist, etc.), they are given a new meaning in the context of a new structure of relationships with other elements of the work. Fictio is a separate category from either verum or falsum and its relationship with the reality cannot be thought of in categories of "truth" or "representation". Furthermore, an author's opinion of his own work is not only not binding in any way, but hardly relevant for most considerations one could make. Even if we wanted, we could not read Dante the way he "intended" us to read it. It is also totally beside the point what Dante "tried" to express - I am certainly not going to be dealing with imputations of that kind, what I am interested in is what he expressed, not what he "meant" or "tried". Dante's "success" (what kind of a category is that, anyway, in this context?) in the art of literature has little to do with the information contained there and much to do with how that information is organized and linguistically wrapped. Whoever deals primarily with content, with content as the purpose of studies, is not doing "literature as art" studies. They are doing "literature as history", "literature as a personally enjoyable story", "literature as sociology", "literature as philosophy", if you wish, but they are most certainly not focusing on those elements which make the text distinctly artistic. Only if they are either badly taught, either have not reached yet certain cognitive nuances which would allow them to appreciate formal qualities of a work. Which is why most of "serious" theoretical art instruction tends to be postponed for the upper years.
  19. There is something to it. To be more specific, I do not think having received it (as a child) should necessarily be a factor that makes or breaks the validity of somebody's claims, but having acquired it (eventually) - to a reasonably high level to professionally advocate for it - seems to me like a very reasonable request. In an exhange in which I am not a client paying for and expecting professional expertise, however, degrees and titles do not matter to me and I tend to focus on the content rather than on the person who produced it. My problems with Mr. Kern in this context, thus, have nothing to do with his (lack of) formal education for what he advocates. In spite of knowing who he is now, I take him as any other anonymous username. So, his person is beside the point, I am simply not interested in him in this context. Rather, I take an issue, first and foremost, with his very definition of classical education (which sounds like a complete mystification to me, "defined" in vague terms of virtue and alike, rather than sticking to a content-based definition), and from that point on, and I take an issue with his use of the word "truth" in the context of education (that post where he discussed truths and types totally did not resonate with me). I also take MAJOR issues with some of literature approach and types of questions suggested, but that is where my own professional bias of a certain type enters - I would never discuss literature the way the thread turned around at one point. Honestly? When I read that sentence that "literature is an imaginative exploration and representation of reality (or falsehood", I called my 14 yo to point out to her one of those "learn from this what not to do" things. In the thread about the literary analysis, much of Mr. Kern's post was focused on what I perceive as questions which totally miss the point of the artistic text and how it differs from other types of text (the whole "should the character have done X" type of questions). Such an approach to literature is one of my pet peeves. This is not to imply, in any way, that Mr. Kern is not "entitled" to his own view and approach - he certainly is. And, in a way, regardless of our professional backgrounds, when it comes to educating our children, we are all equals in that we are trying to do the best we can, where we are, with what we have, and within our specific limitations (including our own biases from which we start). I cannot help, however, not to feel extremely uncomfortable with what I perceive as banalizations of the metier and a complete disregard for the fact that the content is not primary in the artistic texts (the information they are built out of is in and of itself beside the point), but their form (what is artistic in how the information is arranged and presented) and certain philological considerations which tie into it... and then we can build it up from there to even more complex matters, but that is the "grammar" of literature, if one can make such a comparison. At the end of the day, however, Mr. Kern and I obviously stem from radically different worlds, different academic traditions, have come to different frameworks within which we conceive education, so it is only natural that we should part quite radically. I am simply not his intended audience, but he does seem to have a lot of success with a lot of people who find him inspirational. That is how it will always be, with any person or any topic - one person will thrive on what another person rolls their eyes about, a third person will find a random gem in it but overall not hold it in very high esteem, a fourth person... C'est la vie. Thankfully, the world is big enough for all of us to find like-minded people and educate in ways we consider to be right. :D
  20. The PC version would be: "Regarding the formal requirements needed to qualify for this /whatever it is/, all of the candidates seem to have satisfied them, or else they would have been eliminated from /whatever it is/." The un-PC version would be: "The world is not fair. We are all determined by a host of arbitrary qualities of arbitrary intensities that we could not have affected, both in terms of nature and nurture. An attempt to provide a platform for a 'perfectly fair' competition will always be futile, because you simply cannot design such a thing. At best, you can be very specific about who qualifies to compete, but even that is no guarantee that you will successfully eliminate higher skilled candidates by age or grade level restraints. At some point, you just have to live with it, no matter what cards you personally or your children were given in the game of life. You have to play with the cards you have, not the cards you wish you had - and whether that is going to be good or not, it will depend upon other people too and as far as that is concerned, there is absolutely nothing you could or should do about it. C'est la vie."
  21. It seems that I have missed the fun on this thread because I was away for a full day. :lol: Anyway, because Eleanor brought my attitudes up upthread, to rinse and repeat, since I have no idea on which of these s/o threads I explained it, whether this one or some other one: classical education refers to the education in classics, i.e. ONE component of one's education (which has MORE components than just the classical one). "Classical education" is not synonymous with "good education". It takes more than a mere component of classics to provide a good education and, some would argue, it is even possible to provide a good education without the classical component. For a good education, in my personal "elitist" little eyes, that classical component ought to coexist with a balanced education in the philological sphere (including high level literacy in one's native language and its literary heritage - which of course includes being literate and able to write), in the mathematical-scientific sphere (which of course includes numeracy and explicit tools for the scientific understanding of the world, as well as that understanding in accordance with the epoch), and in the sphere of general arts and humanities (here is where you coordinate your history, your art history, and your philosophy). And that is how it always was in good schools, which is why classical schools used to be by default pretty good. Their purpose was to broadly educate the intellectual best of the population that was getting educated, not to produce narrow specialists who can read Latin, but struggle with prealgebra (relative to the standards of their age). Any kind of narrow focus would have been antithetical to the nature of such schools. What happened is that, over time, other types of schools developed, the explosion of science happened, etc., and certain knowledges, which used to be considered a default component of one's education (remember: ONE component of it, not THE education) started to be viewed as anachronistic, something not really belonging to the modern age and world, etc. First Greek, then Latin too, then in a more broad sense, the whole of the classical antiquity (and Bible, but that was politically incorrect to say in a newly secular society, that got totally pushed aside) as a cultural basis for much of the Western culture. So, what used to be "only" a lycee or a gymnasium, if it retained that, got renamed as "classical". Nothing ever becomes "classical" or "orthodoxy" until new ways of doing things appear and mainstreamize. So we have a paradoxical definition that is partially historical, partially literal (= an education in classics). The whole truth, virtue, whatever thing is a train of thought that sounds as though it originated from somebody at a complete distacco from that tradition - to me, it sounds like a "rediscovery" of things, rather than a "continuation". I grew up with the "continuation" mindset, nobody was reiventing the wheel nor romanticized postulates behind such an education in terms of adding virtue to the soul or whatever. That thing has always puzzled me. I typically like to adhere to a more technical definition, or a more pragmatic definition. I also dislike the touch of mystifications I sometimes perceive in these discussions. Regarding excellence and elitism, I do - unabashedly - subscribe to the thread of thought that an education incorporating classical is "the" education for the context of Western culture. No apologies about that, I do honestly find a Western education without that component inherently lacking certain depth and perspective. This does not even mean that I think each kid should get the same amount of Latin texts under their belts by the graduation, but that the classics should be, for children at the upper ends of the intellectual curve who such "addition" would not burden, a part of their education, right alongside math or native language. It also does not mean, however, that my definition of a good education is reductionist to that component or that I do not recognize a need to learn equally as well, or better, other components. I also think the various components should be mixed in various ratios for various kids at the upper stages of education, thus allowing for personal interests to prevail and shape the bent of much of it. Much, not all. Pure vs. practical learning? In a way. Of course you want both, if you have a child capable of going there. For the record, I do not think any of my girls will end up a classicist. ;) I am not one either, professionally speaking, and my greatest passions have always been - guess what? - the arts. When I was looking into my post-secondary education, I was considering art history (almost ended up there, I still sometimes wonder whether I should have, because I think my most intense art sensibilities are probably those related to painting and architecture), dramaturgy (!!) - but decided at the end of the day I was not that much into theatre, and letters, which is where I ultimately ended up, alongside philology (and even there, it was not strictly classical philology, LOL). And yet, I find classics to have been just as normal part of my education as math, and even though my kids are going to end up in totally different fields most likely, it is/was simply a part of the game at one point, because we are not interest-led, but view education principally as a transmission of culture. That is all there is to it. :D Within that context, Eleanor makes sense to me?
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