Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Poetic Knowledge Week 10

Book Study Club -- outline and links to more discussion at A Healer's Geste

This is a short week because there are only three pages to cover (though last week I thought the listed pages were a typo so I didn't read all the way up to the last three pages, if that makes sense -- my husband is getting me a cup of coffee now and I guess I need it!)

Mystie suggested that we could just talk about something we wanted to, or skip this week, or alternately, list some books that we wanted to read as a result of reading Poetic Knowledge.   It's a good week to have a light load because my husband and the older kids just arrived home last night at midnight and today we are celebrating Aidan's birthday! 

So I thought I would first list some posts from my old blog that referenced Poetic Knowledge.    

About a quote from the book:

"Enthusiasm is an emotion of the ethical part of the soul."

Particularity and Philosophy of Literature

A list of quotes from different authors.    what they say about literature reminds me of what John Senior says in the transcript in our Poetic Knowledge reading for today:

St Thomas says.... you must always in abstract knowledge advert to the singular, about which there is no science.  There is no science of the singular.... For example, the concept of God is not God.  IT's a way, a sign, an instrument by which we can come to know God -- but God Himself is not the concept.   What philosophy rests on that distinction!

Then Dr Quinn says:

Mr Senior is using the example of God, but it is true of a horse, a fly, or a flea, which is another example that St Thomas uses.  That is, we must always advert to the singular in any realm of thought.
Trust and the Knowledge of the Heart

About how Cardinal Newman warned us not to be skeptical of the foundations upon which our mental processes work. ... also about unschooling and "trusting your children to learn."   Newman didn't write the parts about unschooling, I did, just in case that still sounded like pre-coffee blur. 

Receptive Reading

Quotes from Taylor and CS Lewis and also thoughts on why the idea of narration sometimes bothers me.  (I think I realized that it could get very mechanical and checklist-y, even though I don't think it worked that way in Charlotte Mason inspired schools.

But after reading the IHP's idea of "conversation" I realize why our reading always goes better when we discuss rather than narrate in the way I've always thought narrating "should" go.   No doubt I have a false idea of narration!    Of course, our Morning Time conversations are different from the IHP because we are all learners.   However, it's surprising how many times an 8 year old will come out with something very thought-provoking about a reading.  I suppose it is because young children haven't learned "how to think" about a given theme or story, so their insights are directly connected either to their own direct experience or to other books.    Whereas I as an English literature major have learned how to sort of drain the nectar from a literary work in a very efficient fashion, which sometimes actually doesn't well serve getting the full poetic experience from a literary work.   Reading things with my kids allows me to go back to the earlier days when I read things because they were loveable.

In relation to that, John Senior says that emotions are a form of knowledge.   We don't love or fear or hate in a vacuum.   Aquinas talks about how a sheep fears a wolf not because of its rough appearance but because of a certain form of cognition that tells it that the object it perceives, the wolf, is to be feared and hated.    And for humans our emotions are actually part of our intellectual nature, so we can love or fear things we don't actually perceive with our senses.    It only takes a child a few years of life before he starts fearing dark closets or the space under the bed at night, even if he has never watched Poltergeist (which hopefully, he hasn't).   Chesterton says famously:

The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
The End of Education -- this is a recent post from this blog.... a poem by John Senior, and some links.

Finally -- books I put in my queue as a result of studying Poetic Knowledge?  It just so happens that I went digging in my closet yesterday even before reading the discussion question.

Books to Read This Summer

The Republic by Plato (I thought maybe I could finally tackle it while I'm motivated -- funny how you feel intimidated about reading a Great Book even though as CS Lewis says it's probably easier to read than most modern scholarly books).

Education at the Crossroads by Jacques Maritain

Feeling and Healing Your Emotions by Conrad Baars, who was mentioned in earlier chapters of PK.

Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor

I recently ordered The Death of Christian Culture by John Senior -- you can find it relatively inexpensively used at Abebooks, and I think there's also a Kindle edition. 

Also, I'd like to reread a Charlotte Mason book in light of what I've learned from studying Poetic Knowledge.    I'm not sure which one yet.

Since these are all books "about" something I think I ought to read some Shakespeare, especially since Clar has plans for us to watch some movie versions of Shakespeare this summer, and I think I have committed to reading War and Peace this summer, too.  That looks like a lot of books, but I've been reading a lot lately!  However, it may take me through till next year.


  1. I love the Chesterton quote! :) I think St. George is the reason my boys seem nonchalant about death. They understood resurrection.

    We'll see if I can get to your other posts this week. :)


  2. I realize why our reading always goes better when we discuss rather than narrate in the way I've always thought narrating "should" go.

    Hmmm.... I'm very new to everything you discuss, but it's funny you write that. I also had a 'narration' that was more an exchange of ideas with my oldest, and I think it was a very interesting and remarkable moment. It left me wanting 'more'. As she started to 'narrate' or retell what I read, she was questioning that it was the best thing to do, and it truly gave me a surprising view.
    It was a simple story about a man that didn't want to grow to be a doctor, or architect... he wanted to have a merry go round, but with true living animals.
    It failed twice, the parents are too scare, they scare the animals in return, and it doesn't help. As I thought she was going to feel bad about the men for not being very able to keep the animals, she told me it was not right, that the animals need to be fed, and run free. It's also a simple thought, but it was genuine, different than the verbatim children give us after we lecture them about the environment and such.
    Then yesterday my girls asked a girl they met at a birthday, as they were all having lunch with us moms present, are you homeschooled? She said NO, and they asked, How come? She said, my parents work. They said, "why?", and she said that they wanted the money, or needed money... my youngest, four, nonchalant said, then your parents must be greedy! I was embarrassed and said, "no, her parents share as they are sharing their home and pool today, they work for their needs". Ah, replied my youngest, then if you want more money to buy your daughter a house, you are being greedy! And the mom was shocked they knew the concept of greedy and kept asking who or when did I "teach" it to them? I haven't. We've just read stories, talked about things, and gotten this from our Bible readings and our thoughts about life in conversations, because I assure you that I have never said that working moms are greedy, but I surely may have said we don't buy or spend during many occasions because it's trivial and sort of unnecessary to want to have more money for things we don't really need.

  3. I remember one time reading a summary of CM's narration approach and narration was followed by something...I think they called it "brief meaningful conversation" or some such thing. The idea was that the child told what they knew, and then more of a book group type of conversation followed that. What you are saying seems to line up with that...

    I actually cracked open my husband's copy of The Republic (from college) a couple weeks ago! I adore it so far...a much easier read than I expected.

  4. Hi Brandy!

    I actually wrote a bit about that a few years ago CM/Classical Lesson Plan -- with some links to articles from PNEU. I guess the narrations consolidate understanding in the students mind (and I think it was important that they were done in groups so the narrations complemented each other) and then they could discuss it more intelligently after that -- without the teaching ending up fishing for answers as happens so often with discussion formats when narration hasn't been done beforehand.

    I started reading the Republic with my daughter a couple of years ago -- we loved it and thought it was hilarious in the beginning. It certainly is quite readable. But I have never actually made it to the end.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!