Vol. 2, Issue 10
May 7, 2007
This is a terribly busy time of year for everyone who's even remotely connected to academia (final exams, graduations, returning home from college). I'm caught up in it too. Thus this issue will be a bit shorter; but also it seems good, at a time when our focus can easily be lost, to republish a short piece I wrote awhile back about the essence of education.
IN THIS ISSUE:
1) SCHOLA NEWS -- Important links to watch, and available online tutorials
2) COGITEM -- Back to Basics
3) DE ASTRIS -- Farewell to Sirius
4) SIC LOCUTUS -- Thomas Carlyle
Important links on Schola's homepage: 1) "Upcoming Events" (there are new additions), and 2) "Latin In A Week" (note especially the upcoming Phoenix AZ and Walnut Creek CA events).
Fellow Tutors Online Whom I Particularly Recommend: 1) Miss Emily Callihan offers Latin, Hebrew, and Intro to Great Books; 2) Aaron Wells offers Great Books 1 and Logic. Also visit ETS's website for a list of other excellent tutors in a variety of subjects.
COGITEM -- Back to Basics
Many of my friends probably have bigger libraries than I do. I would guess I have somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 books, which isn't as big as it may sound. But I have what I think is a good library - a good selection of the classics from every age, some great sets, decent language references, and theology; there are also a lot of random fill-in-the-gap categories (flyfishing, Mexico, hunting, sailing and navigation, astronomy, science fiction, literary criticism). If I never bought another book I'd have good reading for the rest of my life.
And I'll repeat what I've said before and will continue to say, probably to everyone's great annoyance. This is the heart of a good education: a small but well-chosen library, a place to sit and study, some friends to do it with, and the time and tranquility to do it in. There's such an immense, mind-bogglingly complicated tangle of extraneous issues attached to the concept of education, it's a wonder anybody ever gets one or even knows what one is. It's not about grades or credits. Those things may be necessary to get into college, but they're not part of education and it's all we can do to keep them from interfering with real education; mostly we fail at that. It's not about getting a job; that's for machines, not men and women created in the image of God. It's not about schedules and buildings and administrations and academic years and budgets and playgrounds and buses and meetings and athletics and art and field trips and curricula and email lists and offices and secretaries and science fairs and trips to the principal's office for misbehavior and lunchroom tables and drama departments and spirit week and community service and field day and school newspapers and multimedia. It's about Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and the student on the other.
Read the best books and talk about them with like-minded friends. That's been the essence of real education since antiquity, and nothing about our modern world changes that except perhaps the pandemic idiocy that gives this idea even greater urgency and even less chance than ever of being taken seriously.
DE ASTRIS -- Sirius
If you love to watch the stars -- and I hope you do -- go out tonight or the very next clear night and take a last look at Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens, before it disappears for half a year. As soon after sunset as the sky starts losing light, watch for Sirius very low in the southeast. It's getting lower each night and will soon be gone.
The greatest university of all is a collection of books.