Friday, January 27, 2012

Reading Barzun...

As part of a sincere effort on my part to insure that in 2012 I do read some of the serious books on my "to be read" list, I've been working my way through the essays in Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning by one of my favorite contemporary heroes in the realm of education: Jacques Barzun.

There are 15 essays in this book under three headings: First Things, Curriculum, and Advanced Work. I've finished the first section, and as is usual for me when I read this sort of thing, there are copious amounts of underlining and comments penciled into the margins.

Perhaps when I've finished I'll be able to articulate the primary message of the book; but for now, I'll just share a few quotes.

Teaching is an art, and an art, though it has a variety of practical devices to choose from, cannot be reduced to a science.

Again like governing, teaching is telling somebody else how to think and behave; it is an imposition, an invasion of privacy. That it is presumably for another's good does not change the unhappy fact of going against another's desire--to play, whistle, or talk instead of listening and learning: teaching is a blessing thoroughly disguised.

The computer, moreover, does not teach, does not show a human being thinking and meeting intellectual difficulties; it does not impart knowledge but turns up information pre-arranged and pre-cooked.

Knowing something--really knowing it--means being able to summon it up out of the blue; the facts must be produced in their right relations and with their correct significance. When you know something, you can tell it to somebody else.

For my readers who know who Charlotte Mason is--narration, yes?

There is more, about the hazards of fragmented knowledge, and importance of understand the relations that exist between subjects, but that should be enough to whet the appetite of anyone who has an appetite for this sort of reading in the first place.


At 4:36 PM , Blogger hopeinbrazil said...

Yes, it does sound like Charlotte Mason. Thanks for sharing these quotes.

I audited a college class this year and was surprised to hear the teacher say, "I'll make suggestions on your papers but you don't have to take them. They are YOUR papers to write the way you want." I guess she was trying to get away from the idea of "imposing" her ideas on her students!

At 4:16 AM , Blogger Kathy said...

That sounds fascinating! I'm not sure I have the mental energy to tackle it right now, though. . . lol

At 10:17 PM , Blogger Sheila Atchley said...

Hi Karen!

Hope you get this...I can't find your email address, and can't find you on Facebook. (!!) :-)

If you still want the Poppy Painting of mine - I would love to make arrangements with you to bless you with the original, for the price of a print...

HOWEVER - someone else DOES want the painting. I want to give you first dibs, if you want it - and count it as sowing into the Kingdom. Could you let me know by the end of the week? Otherwise, I will go ahead and sell it to the other person, who interestingly, is also the UK.

I'd just as soon ship it to the person you mentioned to me in the comment you left on my blog. I'd love to do that, as a blessing to an old missionary friend. Well, YOU are not get what I'm sayin', I am sure. ;-)



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