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ElizaG last won the day on February 24 2014

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  1. I've just been reading Fr. Pavur's translation of the 1599 Ratio, and it's leaving me with a lot of questions. Maybe this would be a good time to go back to reading PJEP, if anyone is interested. (Paging @LostCove !) We finished up our school year at the beginning of this month. Based on past experience, I had planned to give the upper elementary children two weeks off, then keep them somewhat busy with review and new activities over the summer. When the two weeks were up, though, I changed my mind, and I decided to let us all have more of a vacation. But this resulted in them pretty much just running around acting silly and arguing with each other, so I think it's back-to-school time for us. Now I see that the Ratio says that the vacation should be no longer than a month for the rhetoric class, three weeks for poetry, two weeks for upper grammar, and a week for lower grammar. Sounds about right to me!
  2. Thank you, LostCove; it's very helpful to have it written out like that! In the past, I wasn't able to stay focused on EFL arithmetic for more than a few months at a time, and we ended up drifting back to workbooks as our main approach. But I hope to give it another try, maybe starting soon. Has this book been posted before? I've only glanced through it, but the author has some distinct opinions on both discipline and academics. It would be interesting to compare her ideas and influences with EFL's. Thoughts on Domestic Education: The Result of Experience, By A Mother. (Boston: Carter & Hendee, 1829) "A Mother" was a pseudonym of Maria Elizabeth Budden (c. 1780-1832). She was a British mother of six, and also wrote and translated numerous other books, but Wikipedia says that little is known about her life.
  3. Finally, some new material! EFL's third book, Beginning the Child's Education, was published in 1925 and entered the public domain this year. It's written in the form of letters to the mother of a preschooler. Some of the material was already published in her newspaper columns, but it's good to have it in one place.
  4. Thank you for posting. That edition looks lovely!
  5. I'm glad you're having success with Model English. Making a master list of topics is an excellent idea. I came across an old 9th grade composition text, Sentence and Theme, with a teacher's guide ("Pilot Book") that has a few pages about choosing composition topics. It's also dated, of course, but might suggest some more possibilities. For children younger than age 12, have you looked at Lewis Marsh's Literary Reading and Composition? One of my older children did part of one book, and a former board member used some of the series as well. I'm thinking about using them more with my younger ones. They're a bit hard to find, though. Two of the books are online here, in not very good scans, and I can't find the preparatory one right now. [ETA: Sorry, I just realized that those two are the same book, with different titles! There are three books in the series, intended for approximately ages 11 through 13: "A First Book" starting with Goldsmith's "Whang, the Miller;" "Preparatory," starting with Hawthorne's "The Three Golden Apples;" "Combined Course," aka "Senior Course," starting with "A Wreck" from Dickens. Now that I look through them again, though, there isn't much in the way of imitation until late in the Senior book.] Regarding SJC, Fr. Robert Gannon's The Poor Old Liberal Arts (1961) and a 1955 report from the college answered some of my questions. The 1937 curriculum seems to have been considerably more challenging than the current version, as it required studying four foreign languages. First-year students were expected to learn Greek, and read at least some of the ancient Greek texts in the original. In the Latin year, they learned Latin, and so on with French and German in the third and fourth years. In the 1940s, the college decided to substitute English for Latin in the second year tutorials. At the time of the report, they were studying Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, a hefty book known for its Ciceronian style. The language tutorials were held daily, vs. three times a week at present. It would be very interesting to know more about how these have been taught over the years, and what sort of results they've had. In the alumni survey cited in the report, quite a few people thought that there wasn't enough attention to developing writing skills. Members of the conference of educators seemed to have a high opinion of the effect of the program on the understanding of language (though perhaps not writing per se), but they recommended dropping down to two languages to allow for more in-depth work. I don't know when the college took this step. (As a side note, the great majority of alumni survey respondents approved of St. John's staying out of intercollegiate athletics, but a surprising number said that exercise should be made mandatory, to balance the development of body and mind. One suggested that the students should have to do either athletics or something along the lines of "hoeing potatoes." )
  6. Some other notes. 1) [deleted; realized that I already posted it above ] 2) I've found a wonderful Victorian book that was written for parents, as well as teachers and governesses. It's called Principles of Education by Elizabeth Missing Sewell. She was a traditional homeschooler of the EFL sort, understanding the need to come up with a flexible approach that works for the individual child, the parent, and their situation in life. Charlotte Mason's PNEU method, helpful as it is in some ways, looks like a sausage factory by comparison. The full book is online here. It's 500 pages long and was originally published in two volumes. There's also an abridged edition, published by the Mothers' Union in 1914. It's only 134 pages long, and is supposed to capture the essentials. Sewell was a lifelong Anglican who lived during the Oxford Movement, and she wrote a few novels intended to keep girls from becoming Catholic, but she didn't portray the Catholic faith as negatively as did some others such as Charlotte M. Yonge and Dinah Mulock Craik. I haven't found anything objectionable along those lines in Principles of Education so far. 3) This relates to the question of non-fiction books. In the 1830s, Sewell and Yonge worked together on a series of compilations of extracts from standard histories. They published two of these volumes, covering European history up to the 13th century. I'm not fond of some of the authors they've chosen, but I think the underlying educational idea is a good one. This series was intended for girls who had already picked up a basic knowledge of history from a child's textbook. In order to go deeper, they would have had to either read books and articles on various subjects (which might leave large gaps), or try to plough through someone's multi-volume comprehensive history. It seems to me that these are more or less the same choices we have today. An anthology of extracts would get around these problems, while also giving the reader examples of good writing from various authors. I think that the Internet, with the abundance of public domain works and recently published articles available, would lend itself to creating an anthology of this sort. We could copy the excerpts from public domain works and include links to the others, or we could just have a collection of links to everything. With some effort, we might also be able to do this for other subjects such as science or geography. I found a Modern Science Reader from the 1910s that was intended as a supplement for high school or college courses; it has essays and articles taken from sources ranging from Popular Science to Marie Curie. If you know of anything that's already been published along these lines, please let me know, even if it might not be entirely suitable. I would prefer not to reinvent the wheel!
  7. I don't know about using them as textbooks per se, but we like the Fabre nature books. Also, while we don't have a copy ourselves, the Book of Marvels seems very popular for geography for around age 10 or 11. By 7th and 8th grade, they should be reading adult non-fiction. This was widely recognized by school teachers and librarians in EFL's day. It's difficult, though, because it's hard to find suitable material that's up to date. Many recent books have "mature content" or questionable ideologies, and even if they don't, the literary value is often poor. Sometimes it seems as if newer books for adults are at a lower reading level than older children's books. I still haven't dealt well with our non-fiction, both children's and adult's. It's mostly in boxes. I'm hoping to come up with a solid set of principles to determine what we actually need - who will be using the books? for what purpose? in what way? on what subject? is it really good for that? even if so, can we substitute something else we already have? - and if it doesn't fit those principles, then it goes out. (Probably with a very few exceptions, because there always seem to be exceptions in our homeschool!)
  8. In the 1940s, there were rumors that the US Navy planned to take over the campus of St. John's College in order to expand the naval academy. During an exchange of letters, Stringfellow Barr wrote that St. John's was considering reducing the curriculum from four years to three during wartime, by eliminating summer vacations. He also said they were considering taking students in their second year of high school, so that they would have completed their liberal education by the time they reached draft age. What's more, he said that taking students at this early age had been part of their plan since the St. John's program was developed in 1937. Could Barr, Buchanan et al have been influenced by reading books about the Ratio Studiorum, perhaps even PJEP? It was published in 1934, and there's a copy in the St. John's library. This might seem like a strange idea, but Cinthia Gannett's Traditions of Eloquence gives numerous examples of cases in which writers of modern rhetoric textbooks seem to have been influenced by Jesuit educational traditions, which they failed to mention. To add another twist, in the March 1955 Jesuit Educational Quarterly, Fr. M. J. Fitzsimons mentioned that St. John's had found that students needed a certain kind of secondary education in order to succeed in their program. He doesn't go into details, but this doesn't make it sound as if the college would had much success with typical 15-year-olds. Fr. Fitzsimons' article, "The Spirit and the Letter," is itself a very interesting critique of Fr. Ganss' book, and it introduced me to Fr. Miguel Bernad, a Jesuit from the Philippines whose 1951 Yale dissertation was about the history of the teaching of arts in American Jesuit colleges. Fr. Bernad also wrote essays about mountaineering. I haven't found many of his works online so far, but here's an article from him about "The Ignatian Way in Education," and one from the JEQ about "The Class of 'Humanities' in the Ratio Studiorum" (taken from his dissertation).
  9. I found another introductory textbook that we might read together: The Art of Persuasion, by A. J. Grunthaler. The introduction gives an explanation of what rhetoric is, and describes its traditional importance in liberal arts education. The main body of the book is in the form of a reader, with selections from ancient authors on different aspects of the subject. Aristotle and Quintilian are represented the most. I was glad to see that St. Augustine's famous passage on Christian rhetoric made it in as well. Appendix A, "The Art of Argument," provides an overview of logic in the context of rhetoric. Appendix B is made up of "Some Seriously Great Speeches," mostly modern, with a few rhetorical analysis questions for each one. There's also a helpful bibliography, which includes further readings along the same lines, as well as more advanced works. So there's a great deal packed in there. The author says in the introduction that "rhetoric is not a particularly difficult discipline," which is refreshing, especially after trying to wrap my head around McKeon's abstractions. It must be true, too, if they used to teach this material to 13 year olds!
  10. Sorry for all the meandering. I will try to get back to PJEP! It's just very interesting to look at the different ideas for liberal education that were being discussed at the time. I'm especially interested in modifications that were made to Great Books to bring it more in line with traditional methods. The St. John's approach seems distinctive, and I've noticed quite a few of their graduates writing and speaking in various venues, so maybe there's something to the way they've reintroduced the literary study of poetry and rhetoric. It's not the most prominent part of the curriculum, but perhaps this is somewhat made up for by spreading it over four years, rather than two. It also seems as though their approach to literary criticism is closer to the young Walter Ong's ideal, than to the rote teaching that seems to have gone on in some early 20th century Jesuit schools. The problems he describes in the article probably have a lot to do with mediocre or burned-out teachers, but I wonder if the difference also has to do with the students' age and ability. According to a book I found online (I think it was by Fr. Ganss?), the Jesuits' 16th century curriculum expected that the boys would already have learned Latin somehow in early childhood. They would thus be able to cover grammar at ages 10-11, with poetry at age 12 and rhetoric at 13. In the 19th century, as I understand it, poetry was taught around age 15, and by Father Donnelly's time, it had moved up to age 18. I can see how an approach aimed at 12 years olds, even if done well, might seem stale and rote for students of today's college age.
  11. Okay, after some attempt at thinking, I've noticed two characteristics of "the new grammar" (i.e. linguistic methods) and "the new rhetoric" (as a general term). 1) The subject is generally approached as a science rather than as an art. This attitude sometimes makes it into the student materials, but even if it doesn't, it's a big part of the teacher training. And these methods usually require a lot of teacher training. In the case of the experiments with "the new English," it's hard to say whether the approach was good or bad in itself, but most people agree that it was taught very badly. 2) Avoidance of respect for traditional sources of authority. In classical education (though perhaps not in mainstream US education), rules of grammar were neither prescriptivist nor descriptivist in the modern sense. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they were both. Standards for language were based on the usage of the "best authors," and of educated people generally. Again, this brings us back to judgments of quality. Similarly, generic "rhetoric" textbooks, and even books that set out to teach classical rhetoric, often use models that aren't classics by anyone's definition. When they do include passages from the "best authors" (a judgment that varies widely from one text to another), there are usually few representing the styles that were taught by ancient and Renaissance educators. This all seems to be not so much a matter of building on a tradition, as of fundamentally changing it. Re Father Ong, while I haven't found any direct references to Father Donnelly's work so far, I did find an article of his on problems in the teaching of literary criticism. This was published in the 1939 Jesuit Educational Quarterly, when he was still in formation himself.
  12. It also turns out that the use of linguistic methods in foreign language teaching was heavily promoted and organized by the US government, most obviously as part of the WWII effort, and also for foreign relations goals in general. There's an article from 1964 about this here, and some blog posts here. Kind of a downer to realize that the best methods from a humanistic, literary perspective might not be the ones that get the research funding, but I guess we sort of knew that. And it seems likely that there's still some benefit to be gained there. The philosopher Richard McKeon started working at the University of Chicago in 1934, the same year that PJEP was published. He was a close associate of Adler and Hutchins, and took part in planning their core curriculum. (Reading between the lines, he might have provided much of the brains behind the outfit, while the others were its public face.) He was also involved with the army language training program that's described in the first article above. Many of his own writings were on what he called "New Rhetoric," which was very influential. So, all told, while far from an advocate of traditional or classical forms of education, he made major contributions to new approaches to logic/dialectic, as well as new rhetoric, and maybe even new grammar. I just don't really know what they are. I'm not usually able to get through large amounts of philosophy, and his writings certainly aren't an exception. Traditions of Eloquence refers to his writings on rhetoric at some length, but I'm not sure where my copy is, and TBH I didn't find the explanation there very clear either. Marshall McLuhan's PhD thesis on the classical trivium was influenced by McKeon's work, but McLuhan took it in a different direction, advocating for a renewed form of the Ciceronian model of rhetorical education. He was in touch with Hutchins, and apparently wrote a 10,000 word proposal for improving their curriculum. It would be interesting to find out more about this. But as McLuhan was a recent convert to Catholicism, I don't know if he knew anything about Father Donnelly, or even much about traditional Jesuit education. (If he did, it might have been through the English professor and historian Father Walter J. Ong SJ, who was a colleague of his at St. Louis University, and went to a Jesuit high school and college during what would have been the Model English era. Will have to look into that. I know that Fr. Ong was rather unsentimental in his description of the traditional study of Latin grammar, calling it a "puberty rite.") Oh, and McKeon, famously, seems to have been the basis for the "Chairman of the Committee on Analysis of Ideas and Methods" in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's been a while since I read that; maybe I should assign it to one of the Big Kids. There's certainly a lot of food for discussion, and the thoughts about Quality tie in to the questions in this thread about teaching criticism. Book II of Model English is even subtitled The Qualities of Style. I might not be much good at classical education, but maybe meta-classical education will have some benefit.
  13. It's interesting that although students at St. John's do very intensive language study, to prepare for literary translation work in a short time, they don't use the oral methods that are increasingly popular today. I was also just looking at the catalog for an elite American prep school, which only offers one year of Greek, but says that this prepares the students to read Plato and Homer. I wonder what methods they're using? The savings of time would certainly make the integrated classical approach to literary studies more feasible in our day, and puts a different perspective on the question of language teaching. My understanding - from Father Donnelly, Father Stephen M. Stephenson and others - is that the old-time schools used oral Latin incidentally, in the course of teaching grammar and literature. Learning to speak wasn't the primary goal of the curriculum, nor were the methods based on spontaneous discussion or large amounts of assorted "input." That seems to have originated more recently. Are there any classes available to homeschoolers that take an approach based on reading and literary translation, with or without the use of Latin as a classroom language?
  14. I've been trying to learn a bit more about the way St. John's College conducts their language tutorials. These are a separate part of the curriculum, held alongside the better known discussions of Great Books in translation. The language tutorials at Thomas Aquinas College are based on modern methods (Wheelock, essay-writing, etc.), but it turns out that the ones at SJC are much more traditional, in the sense of being centered on literature. When they translate a passage from an author, there's a lot of discussion of style. They write original literary pieces as well, which seem to be inspired by the work being studied, but I can't find enough information to see how this relates to Father Donnelly's recommendations. Here's a post on French in the undergraduate program: https://thejohnniechair.com/2019/02/04/what-is-french-like-at-st-johns-college/ On the language tutorials generally: https://thejohnniechair.com/2021/01/29/three-tales-of-language-learning/ On Greek in the graduate program: https://colloquysjc.com/2019/03/05/preceptorial-spotlight-ancient-greek-second-semester/
  15. Yes, he must have been remarkably ill-suited to the task of defining ideal womanhood. And it's not as if these eccentricities were a secret. So why was he so popular? Just because he was famous, and said things about reading books? (Then again, looking at certain figures who are highly regarded in educational circles, maybe that is all it takes. Among homeschoolers, even the "famous" part might be optional.) EFL did have a tendency to cite dodgy authorities when she was starting out. The suggested reading list in Educating the Child at Home includes Spencer, Dewey, Rousseau, and G. Stanley Hall, which is really quite surprising given her later writings. I don't know if this changed due to criticism from Catholic leaders such as Fr. Mario Barbera, or if it was more that she no longer saw the need as she developed more confidence and a greater reputation for her own work. ETA: In addition to memorizing and reciting large amounts of Scripture, Ruskin was homeschooled and spent a lot of time outdoors (though carefully guarded by his mother, lest he get hurt). He was never given sweets, and had only a few very basic toys, so he spent a lot of time examining things in his environment. Just goes to show that a "simple" childhood saturated in great words, nature study, and observation doesn't guarantee much, on its own. He barely made it through university, and never seems to have become a really systematic thinker. Ruskin himself said that, because he was trained to recite from the Bible for so long, he later approached all other books as if they were sacred texts. This would explain a lot. In a way, perhaps he was too attentive. I'm going to take this as an argument in favor of using a variety of textbooks and other materials, and a variety of means of study!
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