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Thoughts on Great Books Curriculum (e.g. Angelicum/GBA)?

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Floating about in my mind with your point about the dangers of an unbalaced approach to the trivuum:

Maybe it’s just a flaw in the “Fallacy Detective†but they keep introducing fallacies that seem an awful lot like rhetorical devices.

 

Getting back to this... when something is categorized as a "logical fallacy," this doesn't mean that it's false.  It just isn't necessarily a strong basis for a logical proof.  If we only wrote in strict logical terms, though, we'd more or less be writing computer programs.  

 

In traditional classical education (both ancient and post-Renaissance), rhetoric is the use of all the available means of persuasion.   This requires some understanding of human nature in general, and of oneself and one's audience in particular.  We can see this in the classical secondary curriculum, which used letters and speeches.  Today, by contrast, we see an emphasis on academic forms of writing that are supposed to present evidence with a neutral tone.   This is somewhat analogous to the medieval situation in which humanistic studies went into decline, and dialectical disputation took over the curriculum.  (Ref.: Bruce Kimball's Orators and Philosophers, as well as McLuhan's much denser The Classical Trivium.)  In everyday life, though, practical rhetoric is still everywhere, e.g. in the way friends encourage one another, and the ways parents teach and guide their children. 

 

Even though Christians are rightly concerned about potential abuses of the more deliberate sorts of persuasive speech, most have historically valued the formal study of rhetoric.  As St. Augustine says, it would be foolish for defenders of the truth to ignore this art, when the opponents of the truth are making full use of it.  (Ref.: "On Christian Doctrine," Book IV.)   As a discipline, though, it isn't suited to everyone, and the rules have only ever been taught to a minority of young people.   

 

In our time, I don't see much risk of sincere Christians giving too much thought to rhetoric.  It tends to be treated as an afterthought even in the most self-consciously "traditional" high school and college curricula.  Meanwhile, it's being heavily used in new media by those who would manipulate us, whether to sell products or for some other reason. 

 

It seems to me that the questions are:  how might we restore access to such a frankly elite curriculum, in the context of universal, mostly-standardized secondary education?   And at the same time, how do we make some of the benefits available to everyone?  

 

To answer the second question, maybe we need a course in the defensive study of rhetoric.  This would involve much more than just detecting "logical fallacies."

 

In any case, the trend of sprinkling the curriculum with disconnected exercises in the three trivium branches isn't going to achieve much, if our core approach to the study of classic texts is unbalanced. This is what strikes me about Angelicum.  And Kolbe.   I can see they're really trying to improve, but it looks as if they're just piling more on top, when they had plenty (of what they had) in the first place.   

 

Ack, it's March already.  I need a plan for the fall!     :svengo:  :nopity:

Edited by ElizaG
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Even though Christians are rightly concerned about potential abuses of the more deliberate sorts of persuasive speech, most have historically valued the formal study of rhetoric. As St. Augustine says, it would be foolish for defenders of the truth to ignore this art, when the opponents of the truth are making full use of it. (Ref.: "On Christian Doctrine," Book IV.) As a discipline, though, it isn't suited to everyone, and the rules have only ever been taught to a minority of young people.

 

In our time, I don't see much risk of sincere Christians giving too much thought to rhetoric. It tends to be treated as an afterthought even in the most self-consciously "traditional" high school and college curricula. Meanwhile, it's being heavily used in new media by those who would manipulate us, whether to sell products or for some other reason.

 

It seems to me that the questions are: how might we restore access to such a frankly elite curriculum, in the context of universal, mostly-standardized secondary education? And at the same time, how do we make some of the benefits available to everyone?

 

To answer the second question, maybe we need a course in the defensive study of rhetoric. This would involve much more than just detecting "logical fallacies."

 

In any case, the trend of sprinkling the curriculum with disconnected exercises in the three trivium branches isn't going to achieve much, if our core approach to the study of classic texts is unbalanced. This is what strikes me about Angelicum. And Kolbe. I can see they're really trying to improve, but it looks as if they're just piling more on top, when they had plenty (of what they had) in the first place.

 

I've used different curriculums (lost tools of writing, fallacy detective etc) that teach building an argument and finding fallacies but honestly many of these programs become mindless exersies without deliberate conversations teaching them practical application. It doesn't necessarily lead to understanding how most people (news agencies, book publishers, websites) have a worldview and how that influences their rhetoric, sometimes deliberate and othertimes not. I think it comes back to classical education being more of an art form. I, the educator, need to understand what I am teaching and pass that information on to my students. Stricly using curriculum for this hasn't been effective in my house. Curriculum to often leads them to the answers and doesn't provide enough room for thought. Edited by Momto4inSoCal
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