Monday, August 03, 2009

Priming the Pump, I

This summer, for the first time in a long time, I've enjoyed the leisure of time; time for study, contemplation, and planning for the coming school year. Approaching the year with some general goals in mind, I find that before I fine-tune the schedules and curriculum details for the year--which often are fine-tuned as I go along--I need nourishment for my educator-soul. And so it is to books which will help me to consider and reconsider the big-important-ideas and to ask the big-important-questions I turn.

One of the books that has been helping me to prime the pump:

The Art of Assertion

Who would have thought I would have been so deeply inspired by a rhetoric book which applied the art to the academic essay? It was the author's high vision of good and right language as a manifestation of love in relationship, care for souls, that drew me in:

Particularly inspiring is the author's consideration of Plato's explanation of rhetoric as "the art of soul-leading by means of words." ( Phaedrus 261a) : "Such soul-leading is a liberal power, one which in its finest and fullest manifestation is a form of love: the finest rhetorician not only loves wisdom, but also loves others who do so. The finest rhetor, then, is a friend...The best university is a rhetorical community of friends, and the ultimate purpose of this book is to teach the reader how to live within such a community with words so full of care that they release the light of brilliance." p. 13

-and- "The care of words and things--that is, the care of things through the care of words--is a generous, disciplined forum: this human activity is rhetorical throughout, the true influence of friends who have, as Phaedrus puts it at the close of the Phaedrus, 'everything in common' (279c), in particular the shared motion toward the real. pp 13,14 (I think I need to read Phaedrus now, too.)

These ideas prompted me to dig out an old audio tape by author and educator, David Hicks, on the logos:

The study of language is connected to the formation of character.

The goal of education is a good person speaking well.

"Everything behind or beyond the logos is a mystery to us. Only when the mystery speaks, when it is clothed in the language of the law or the flesh of the Savior can we begin, and only just begin to comprehend it."

The big-important-ideas: language as love, soul-leading, discipleship, relationship, virtue, revelation of God

1 comment:

Patti said...

Thanks for the review, Melissa. Enjoyed catching up on your blog.