Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Cross-Section

I haven't been doing much blog-reading for a while. Too busy, too much to keep track of on the home front; I didn't want to wander off into cyber-space and lose my focus. So I missed that Cindy of Dominion Family has a new title for her blog, Ordo Amoris. I knew that Brandy at Afterthoughts was discussing Leisure: The Basis of Culture but I didn't realize that the discussion was being hosted by Cindy. So I have some catching up to do.

I love Joseph Pieper's book and decided that though I'm probably too late to join in with the discussion, I could start rereading it and reading the discussion archives on Cindy's page.

I don't seem to be capable of big picture thinking right at the moment so I thought I'd chip away in little pieces. Today is a beautiful California fall day up here in the Sierras above the mile-high marker. The sky is sunny with some clouds, which puts interesting shadows and indirect lights on the tall incense cedars and sugar pines, making them glow almost portentously.

Sean, my teenager, seems to have gotten the swine flu or else the garden variety one. He was only a little bit sick until he played football Friday night. The varsity quarterback got hurt and Sean as back-up got pulled in to QB for almost the whole second half against the toughest team they've played so far this year. Sean is only a sophomore and has been practicing defense, not QB, all season. He played with a lot of heart (I wasn't there but Brendan taped it) and didn't embarrass himself, but was no more able than the senior QB to muster an effective offense against the other team. He was crushed after the game but felt better after some support from his team. But since then he has had a relapse with the flu and I'm thinking bronchitis, maybe?

Paddy is playing some battle game with the Tumbling Towers blocks (but I wish he wouldn't keep putting them in his mouth!). Aidan found our inflatable globe and a metal ring that just fits around it. He carries it around with him and refers to it as Saturn : ). Brendan and Kieron's whereabouts can be discerned by an irregular chorus of coughing. We are an unhealthy household right now, but everyone is on the mend except for Sean.

I don't know what Liam's doing right at the moment, but in general he has been working on music (playing classical guitar and composing things occasionally) and finishing the Mini-Golf Mania port (which he finalled last week -- see here). It's almost impossible to resist the temptation to compose classical guitar pieces after you've played enough Carulli and Giuliani -- the arrangements almost seem to come to you out of the air!

So -- not much actually about leisure within this post except by particulars but here is what I have written in the past on the subject.

In philosophical terms, leisure is essentially "free" and "free" is defined as:

"not being subordinated to a duty to fulfill some function."
Now since this is already a scattered post, I will post a question that I ponder occasionally but that I have no answer for yet. And you don't have to answer it either.

If my kids are enrolled in a government school (a publicly funded charter program) is our education still "free"?

I don't have an answer, because I am not comfortable enough with all the philosophy of liberty to be able to muster all the components of the question. I take the question out every now and then and dust it off and turn it over for a while then put it back on the shelf again.

Aside from the question of government funding and oversight, is the K12 curriculum itself a "liberal" one?

That's another question that's difficult to find an answer to. In some ways, definitely yes. The curriculum is ordered towards cultural knowledge and development of "humane" skills directed towards ability towards further learning. The outcome is knowledge, to the benefit of the student as citizen and human, not specifically functional as in "worker" or "cog of the State".

I would say that in some ways the "model" is an Enlightenment one, not a classical philosophical one. But that will take more thought, too. Cindy wrote in regard to the Pieper book:

So in the simplest terms possible, this chapter contrasts a purely empirical knowledge with a knowledge that assents to a bigger picture. One sort of knowledge produces pride and the other sort produces humility. Interestingly, while the nature of the empirical is to deny the spiritual, the nature of the spiritual can include the empirical. This is a distinction that should clear up some of the difficulties in approaching the topic of leisure.
The K12 approach is based on empirical investigation and acculturative knowledge (my terms and my take, so read this with a grain of salt). Since as Aristotle says, knowledge begins in sensation, empirical investigation is certainly not contradictory to the spiritual or philosophical endeavor. However, the search should not resolve with empiricism. Because of the K12 emphasis on acculturation through civic, musical, artistic, language and literary study, at this time I don't think it does do this.

Time to make some toast!

(Liam's guitar composition -- he says the audio isn't very high quality and he wasn't too thrilled with his playing, either)

1 comment:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!