Thursday, August 18, 2016


From Perennial Childhood: Remarks on the Discipline of Praise
In 2006, Bernhard Bueb, then headmaster of an elite private school near Lake Constance in Southern Germany, published a thin volume that instantly became a bestseller throughout the German-speaking world. Lob der Disziplin [In Praise of Discipline], which would earn Bueb the not entirely flattering title of “Germany’s strictest teacher,” issued a ringing call for a revival of the old-fashioned and, in the author’s view, unjustly neglected virtue of classroom discipline....
Bueb’s inverted sense of discipline called, then, for an “inversion” of its own. Hence the title of our book, which turns his “praise of discipline” on its head and speaks of a Disziplin des Lobens, a “discipline of praise,” instead. This title reflects our conviction that to “praise” the object of study—to love, approve, and affirm its goodness—is to receive from it the kind of discipline its nature demands. ....As the foregoing suggests, the pedagogical act is founded upon a common “loving inclination to the real.” Put another way, the joy of (and between) teacher and student presupposes a shared affection inclining both towards an intrinsically lovable, and jointly beloved, “Third”: the subject-matter that forms their specific “condilectum,” as Richard of Saint Victor might have put it.
read more here

The idea is that student, teacher and subject matter together form what you might call by analogy a kind of trinity, at least a "Three".    When one of the sides of the triangle is missing you end up with a breakdown in education.

I like the idea of "Discipline of Praise."  It seems very Pieper-ish.

"Condilectum" means something like delighting-together and does indeed evoke the Trinity.   It seeks to fill out the spare but wonderful Nicene formula of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Yesterday I finished the Silvretta shawl, and also found the Nymphiladea, so now I'm working on finishing that one.  

PG was motivated on his first day of formal school and charged through a multiplicity of subjects.
We had the care of ARA while her parents traveled to the birthing center, and with her we went on a walk (ST came with us and talked about politics) and sorted colors (something she is extremely interested in these days) and washed dishes (she loves this and can spend many minutes standing on a chair with a few containers, some soap and a stream of water).

Today is going to be yard work and hymn practice at the church.   The bishop is rumored to be coming up for this week's mass.   I am so not ready for that.

To finish, another quote from the article.   I like this one because this economic distortion seems to go beyond education and affect everything particularly politics.   The emphasis is mine.

the “economic rationalization” of education, which prolongs the first two tendencies by bending both the subject-matter and the student-teacher relation to serve the same purely external objective or target: a numinous economic profit that, lying entirely in an endlessly deferred future, is incapable of filling the present moment with any real substance—and thus “futurizes” the saturated kairos of education to the detriment of the inner principle characterizing the genuine act of learning......   “economic rationalization,” “thanks” to its reductively monetary model of “oikonomia,” eventually fails to be properly economical at all. This last point bears stressing: Paul, writing to the Ephesians, understands the “economy” precisely as a present fullness, as the fulfillment offered here and now in a privileged kairos (eis oikonomian tou plêrômatos tôn kairôn: Eph 1:10).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School

“Teaching can be defined as a constant stream of professional decisions made before, during and after interaction with the student.”  from The Pressures of Teaching (this is one of the first Kindle books I read, courtesy of the Daily Review).
 I don't have much time today, since it's the official First Day of School and as it happens, I am watching my granddaughter ARA for a few hours while her mama and dada go to the midwife.

We probably won't do much official school.  I'll have PG look over the class sites for the textbooks, and visit the websites for his review work.

There's also the yard work.

The kitchen sink is fixed and is blessing my life once more, but the upstairs toilet is in hiatus while KM waits for some extra parts, and so we have one toilet for 9 people today and tomorrow.  

The Silvretta shawl is almost finished, though this morning a catastrophe occurred when I started doing the lacework on the wrong side (WS) of the work.   I smoothed it over, but we'll see how it affects the final thing.

KM said he watched W, Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge last night, and was talking about looking it up at Amazon.   Since I was on here I looked it up quickly and found a Collected Works by him at a very good price, and also a host of other collections by various semi-modern authors.   There is not enough time to read everything I would like to read, but maybe I can start digging into literary reading as opposed to indy thrillers at least some of the time.

when I was 12, it was my parents’ job to value the long-term benefits of my education, and my job only to live up to their immediate expectations.  from The Pressures of Teaching
I get up and go do one more thing—one phone call, one individualized assignment, five minutes of listening to a quiet child speak—that I know is good.
 from The Pressures of Teaching

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ascending and Assumption

Me and BC

View of the lake
Yesterday was a fairly eventful day.   In the morning KM and BC and I did a shortish hike (about two miles round trip, though part of it was a steep scramble up a monstrous granite outcropping -- you can see it a bit in the picture of the lake).   It was nice.

Back home in time to drive to town (50 miles each way) with CFA, PAA and their little daughter ARA.   We went to the Tridentine mass for the Feast of the Assumption (which is the 2-year anniversary of the day I made my consecration to Mary -- when I did that, I was in Virginia in a vigil  -- we were waiting for ARA to decide to make her entry.  

Then we went to Salvation Army, Goodwill and Walmart.    Oh, and Arby's, which seems to have better food than it did last time I went to one maybe 7 years ago?

Little A was in an amazingly good mood through all this.  She didn't complain about being taken in and out of her car seat again and again.   She commented on the heat of the metal of the buckles, but not stridently.   She talked and napped and did pretend battles with a collection of poker chips (a habit she has acquired from her 13 year old uncle).

It was hot down there in the valley, 105 degrees I think yesterday.   Nice to be back up in our mountains today.

We got back about 5:30 and since the kitchen sink is broken and KM is waiting for an Amazon delivery in order to repair it, we went out to eat.   By the time we got back I was wiped out, so I didn't get anything done on the domestic front at all.  But fortunately, with the "signifers" of the bullet journal system, it is easy to move it all forward to today.

There were Portobello mushrooms, and shandy, two things I have never had before.   Both very good.

Last day before school officially starts.

I may be able to finish my Silvretta shawl today, though I do have a lot to do.

So hopefully the theme of today will be crashing through my list.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy and Not Happy -- Good Pain and Bad Pain

Some things that make me happy:

  • My morning routine
  • My yarn closet
  • playing the piano at mass
  • Latin and Greek
  • hiking with KM (husband)

Some things that make me unhappy:

  • The 2-stone pile of textbooks waiting to be looked at and done starting this week
  • Getting to the dentist
  • Making mistakes while playing hymns at mass
  • The fact that our kitchen sink is broken right now; in fact, the law of entropy in general.
I read the next chapter of the Ways of Mental Prayer, which was about causes for failing to pray well.   Basically, you can get voluntarily distracted; or you can be too lethargic about your intentions and desire to do well.   These are more or less problems with the will.   Then there are some logistical or procedural mistakes, which he calls illusions.   And finally, there is bodily indisposition.  In this final category, there are distinctions to be made, because it's not always a virtue to push yourself through indisposition.  It's probably something like "good pain" and "bad pain" when you are working out.   You should not push past bad pain, but you may want to do things differently in the rest of your  day in order to avoid having that pain in the first place.      For example, my knees used to hurt when I did the stationary bike, so it limited the time I spent on there and the intensity of the setting.   I scaled back, but also spent some time strengthening my knees in other ways.  Now I just realized that pain doesn't happen any more.   

I learned the most from the "illusions" section of the chapter -- basically, it was more or less about striking a balance.   You don't want to spend either too much or too little time on considerations (the intellectual part of the prayer) OR on affections (the emotional or affective part of the prayer).   You want to prepare ahead of time, so you know what you are going to reflect on, but you want to be able to leave the planned topic if the Holy Spirit invites you to think of some side aspect or particular light on the subject.   And so on.

I finished reading the last book in the Edward trilogy I mentioned yesterday (not the sparkly 2-century-old Edward; the middle aged Asperger's/ OCD one).    I said yesterday that the middle one was my favorite, but now I think the last one may be a contender, as Edward learns how to be a husband and father.   There is a lot of swearing (for the most part, the vulgar Anglo-Saxon kind, not the blasphemous kind).  It's an ongoing joke and sub-motif, but it may be kind of offensive to those who aren't used to a lot of four letter words in their books.

Since I still can't find my vanished butterfly shawl in progress, I started the Silvretta using a kind of yarn called Bamboo Pop which is super soft and drapey.    This project is going fast.  Quick picture:

  •  The shawl makes me happy.     The yarn makes me happy.
  • The textbooks:  not.
  • The morning sun makes me happy, but it wreaks havoc on the lighting for my poor old-model iPhone.  
Today involves a hike with KM and BC (husband and second son) and then possibly a trip to town with CFA, PAA, and ARA (daughter and her family) for Tridentine mass and a bit of thrift store shopping.    So time to start the day.   

I think I have to figure out a way to make the bad pain of thinking about textbooks and dentists into something doable.   I can put up with productive pain easily in the pursuit of something I really want to do.    Thought for today!!! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Of Lost Butterflies, and Bullets and Fields

I lost my Nymphalidea- in-progress.    Here is a picture of it before it vanished.   I had it yesterday, but yesterday was confusing.   AM said something mysterious about putting it on a table because it was in the way (of his Halo battle with his brother and brother in law, presumably).   Presumably it will turn up probably tomorrow when I tidy.    In the meantime I am making another double moss stitch dishcloth.  

Today is our Aristotle discussion so I have been reading about Quantity.    This was interesting.
nothing prevents some things from being many in some respect [secundum quid] and being one in another. Indeed, all sorts of things that are many are one in some respect,..... But we have to be aware of the difference that some things are many absolutely [simpliciter], and one in some respect, while the case is the reverse with others... Now something is said to be one in the same way as it is said to be a being. But a being absolutely speaking is a substance, while a being in some respect is an accident, or even [only] a being of reason. So whatever is one in substance, is one absolutely speaking, yet many in some respect. For example, a whole in the genus of substance, composed of its several integral or essential parts, is one absolutely speaking, for the whole is a being and a substance absolutely speaking, while the parts are beings and substances in the whole. Those things, however, which are diverse in substance, and one by accident, are diverse absolutely speaking, and one in some respect, as many humans are one people, or many stones are one heap; and this is the unity of composition or order. Likewise, many individuals that are one in genus or species are many absolutely speaking, and one with respect to something, for to be one in genus or species is to be one with respect to reason
There is ARA's toy basket (my granddaughter).   It has a collection of toys grouped in one place, but the collection is eclectic.    They are united by position and by species -- all in the basket, all ARA's toys.    The unity there seems kind of provisional.    We could regroup them into sub-categories of toys (cars, wooden letters, dice -- some of her ongoing categories).   We could put them in different baskets, or move the basket.  We could count them (as ARA likes to do).  Or scatter them (also a favorite project).   And put them back.   The components aren't altered, just rearranged.

There is my body -- which seems like a different type of unity.    I am one person.   My components down to my atoms are subordinate to me as a whole.   You couldn't regroup or scatter my components without making me something else than what I am.  Yet still, quantifiable components are constantly being added and subtracted.   And I fit into larger unities -- I am human, animal, etc.   I am part of my family collective.

I thought the Quantity chapter would be easier than the substance chapter, but so far it seems to be carrying on many of the puzzles and difficulties that arose during that part.    Even things like "discrete" quantity (speech and arithmetical number) and "continuous" (lines, planes, solids, and rather puzzlingly, time and place) seem strange to me.   Maybe some of it will get clearer during the discussion, though the discussions tend actually to raise more questions (sometimes more focused questions though, which is good --- the difference between being simply confused, and having a few puzzles to think about).

School starts next week and I haven't looked at the books yet.   To be done later this afternoon.

My most recent paper geek fixation has been bullet journals.   I like them because they are what I mainly do by default (that is, fill a notebook with all kinds of eclectic things), but more systematic; in other words, maybe the system would help solve my retrieval problem.   As well as my other problem of collecting all sorts of charming, but wildly diverse, kinds of notebooks and writing utensils.   A lot of people use a standard kind of notebook and a standard kind of pen for bullet journals, but I can't see doing that when there are so many cool kinds of paper and pen out there (or more specifically, in my closet....).

Through bullet journals, I found Field Notes.   This is the brand name of a kind of notebook you can put in your pocket, but I already have a large amount of pocket sized notebooks, so the interest for me was in the name itself.   Field Notes properly speaking are the observations and reflections you make while out in the field.   You know, like John Muir did.

Here is another thing I used to do often by default, but not formally.   I would do field notes on my children -- basically just log things I noticed, ideas that occurred to me while I watched over them.... etc.    Since I spend several hours a day with my granddaughter most days, I've been feeling the pull towards documenting again.   So much happens in the life of a toddler.    Photos are good too, but not quite in the same way.   And if I'm going to get back into "real" homeschooling (rather than custodian over the textbooks) I should start writing down ideas again.

Finally... a few quick notes:

I read a lot of kindle fiction, but I didn't want to try to list them all (especially not on here....) just the ones that struck me as worthy of note in some way.   Worthy of note does not mean Dosteovsky level, or without flaws or problematic parts, or coinciding with my own philosophical beliefs, or anything like that.    It is not even a recommendation, since peoples' tastes differ so much.   It just means I want to have noted I read it for some reason.  With that in mind, I want to mention that I recently read Edward Adrift.   It's a story about a guy with Asperger's and OCD.    I liked it enough to seek out the preceding and following book in the series, but I like this middle one the best as far as the story.   The swearing, not so much, though it fit into the context of the book.

I just met my weight loss goal!  (again.... I revisit it every summer....).    The unique thing about this time through is that I didn't really notice myself losing the 10 pounds.   Unlike other years, where I had to obsess about it.    I hope that means that the habit changes are locking in.   Those would be:   daily exercise, limiting carbs (using vegetables as a substitute staple), and keeping a food log at interims when I need to increase awareness of how I'm doing.   Those are the standbys.

Since I can't find my butterfly shawl, I may try this Silvretta.....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Common Good

One might be tempted to say that “communal happiness” is something common by way of predication, that the common good is simply the greatest good of the greatest number. As we have previously shown, however, what Aquinas means by the term “common good” is a single end pursued and enjoyed in common. Indeed, it is in response to one of the objections in this very article that Aquinas makes clear that a common good is “common, not by the community of genus or species, but the community of final cause.”
Thomas can only mean that man achieves happiness as a part of the civitas, by participating in the political common good precisely as a common end, not as an instrumental good ordered toward the private pursuit of happiness. The civitas does more than simply provide safety and security, and material prosperity. It is ordered toward the good life, the life of virtue lived in common with other members of the city
From a TAC tutor talk called Aquinas on the Family and the Political Common Good and though I haven't finished it yet, I wanted to highlight this part (the bolding is mine).

I thought this was a useful distinction, especially in today's political climate.   I think possibly one of the unexamined assumptions of both conservatives and progressives in our American political sphere is that the "good" is basically a utilitarian measuring stick oriented, as he says, towards the "private pursuit of happiness".  I know that both sides also have a moral language oriented towards the wider community as well, but the emphasis is instrumental.   I have no more to say about this because I haven't finished reading the article and I haven't thought it through.  

I am just starting to try to read hard things again, and I notice that I get paused on certain passages that I have to think about before proceeding.    In traditional (Catholic) spiritual books about meditating, there is often an emphasis on dwelling on the parts that bear fruit.   I most recently read it in The Ways of Mental Prayer.

It seems there is an analogy there to ordinary "hard" reading.   Certain parts of it are going to resonate more than others, and can be an entrypoint into further understanding of the work (different in intention and hopefully in result from the common modern practice of pulling quotes out of context and using them as clubs to beat a topic over the head, or as misdirected universal statements).

The roll-off bin just arrived so we can clear the "green" waste from our mountain acre.  And I hear a granddaughter knocking at the door.  So bye for now....

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Knitting and Diaries, in Combo

I checked out a book from the library called "The Knitting Diaries".   With two of my favorite words in the title, why wouldn't I?  The book is a compilation of three romantic novellas.  Not my usual type of reading, but they all concerned knitting and journaling in some way, so I read them all.

Anyway, these quotes are from the last story.   I just rather liked the intertwining of the diary and the reflections on knitting.   So I guess the book was worth reading just for these passages:

Around Caro the attic was quiet, rich with memories and dreams. She leaned down, doodling in her worn leather knitting diary. The big maple tree in the front meadow gradually appeared beneath her pen. Patiently she added balls of yarn for fruit and knitting needles for stems. The knitting always stayed close, part of her now. Yarn had calmed her journey, soothed her harsh losses, stitch by stitch, for a decade and more. For Caro knitting was more than a hobby, more than simple entertainment. When she held her needles, her mind soared and dreams turned clear. Part meditation, part therapy, knitting was an interior journey where she learned to see herself....
She cradled her diary, touched the pages filled with three years of dreams, regrets and plans. A knitting diary at first. Now it held far more of her life than simply yarn and stitches. It held dreams and regrets, joys and plans. ........ Caro stared at the words. On the page nearby she saw her latest notes for a sweater, sandwiched between rough sketches of cabled sleeves and long ribbed cuffs. Yarn possibilities for future projects, taken from old knitting. But Caro wouldn’t repeat anything. She would move on and keep growing. 

I don't have an official knitting diary, but I would like to.   I found this pretty pre-set one.   But I think if I had one like that, it would meet the same fate as various book journals and assignment logs I have around the house.  I would not use it, because it would not be flexible enough for the random way I do things.  

I try to keep a list of my projects on Ravelry, and it's very useful, but I get behind on it, and there is no place for simple doodling there.   At least, not that I've found.

Right after reading the Knitting Diaries, I happened to find Melissa Wiley's recent post on notebooks.   I spent a long time after that obsessing about traveller's notebooks.   But after all, I realized that the thing that I liked about her post was not the materials per se (though they were nice) but the way she used them for sketching, color palettes, scheduling and pretty much everything.

There is an acronym for accumulation of knitting materials:  SABLE (stash beyond life expectancy).    I have a similar thing for writing materials.  All kinds of them.    So I don't really need a new paper supply.  I need a way to think of all my random jottings as a whole of some sort.   I probably need to find a way to take time with journaling too.

A couple of related links I didn't manage to work into the post itself:

Journalling, My New Hobby (my friend Chari's post on papery goodness)
Knitting inserts for Midori  (printable -- useful if I ever do end up with a TN).

By the way, since this is turning into another eclectic post, if you have a kindle and highlight passages you want to remember, it is really interesting to look back over them occasionally at your Kindle Highlights page.   Furthermore, if you look at the top option bar on that page, you will see something called Daily Review, which appears to randomize selections from your past highlights.   Today I found this, which seems to apply to some discussions I have been having with one of my grown sons recently without actually using the word unschooling  (maybe that's a topic for a future post):

All people unschool to learn most of their knowledge during most of their lives. The only variables are how well do they do it, and when do they start.   Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich