Incredibles 2: Grace for the Technology Age

Incredibles 2: Grace for the Technology Age

At 12-years-old, the release of Pixar’s original Incredibles hit me right between the eyes. Young enough for cartoons, yet old enough to understand some deeper implications of the story, I imagine I was at the center of their target audience. Certainly the question of Syndrome, the piece’s villain, was one I was beginning to ask myself as a budding teenager: if everyone is special, isn’t it true that no one is? How can I be uniquely valuable in a world where everyone is also uniquely valuable? It is a legitimate question, not just for children…

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What Should a Student Read Before Going to College?

What Should a Student Read Before Going to College?

I’m often asked, “What does my high schooler need to read before college?,” as though there were one or two novels out of the hundreds and hundreds of spectacular works in the Western tradition without which any primary educational journey would be void of meaning. I don’t mean to ridicule the impulse to choose wisely what we offer our students. We clearly should. But I do sense an undercurrent of misunderstanding about the educational project in questions like these…

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Self-Judgment and Hamlet's Mutiny

Self-Judgment and Hamlet's Mutiny

My last blog post on The Hovel is dated April 17, 2017 – over one year ago. There are plenty of reasons and justifications for my silence: I’ve been busy working on more pressing projects, Ian and I moved across the country again, we bought our first house, etc., etc. If I’m honest, though, there’s one sad underlying cause for my lack of productivity that trumps all the other excuses: I have become Hamlet…

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The Triumph of Coco

The Triumph of Coco

Picture this: a young child, just beginning to develop his own taste, personality, and interests, takes up an art and begins to pursue it with all the intensity and excitement of youth. Along the way, however, he feels rejected and oppressed by his family, who vocally oppose his dreams of a grand future in which his art becomes his sole focus. “Wealth and fame might look alluring now,” they say, “but getting rich as an artist isn’t as easy as it looks, and the lifestyle holds far less actual happiness than you assume!” You know the rest, right?…

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Restoration and Remembrance in Cinderella

Restoration and Remembrance in Cinderella

I’m currently in the middle of a unit in some of my literature classes where we are reading and discussing fairy tales. Reading and talking about fairy tales is quite possibly my very favorite thing to do ever. I might be only a tiny little bit hyperbolic about that. Just a smidge. I could honestly do nothing but teach fairy tales all year, every year, and be perfectly happy. We kicked off our unit with “Cinderella.” The girls in my classes were thrilled when I announced the title. The boys, on the other hand, groaned. “Just you wait,” I said. “You only think you’ve heard ‘Cinderella.’”…

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Deconstructing A Wrinkle in Time

Deconstructing A Wrinkle in Time

“The resonant voice rose and the words seemed to be all around them so that Meg felt that she could almost reach out and touch them: ‘Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, ye who go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift their voice; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord!’” So reads Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic, A Wrinkle in Time, a work of science fiction for juvenile readers... 

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"Close Reading" and Postmodern Criticism

"Close Reading" and Postmodern Criticism

My mother hates the term “Close Reading.” To her it is emblematic of the postmodernist deconstructive literary criticism she encountered during her own college years in the late 80’s. To engage in this sort of “close reading” was to focus so intently on the trees that you missed the forest entirely; to purposefully evade and ignore the overarching thematic meaning of an author’s text and to decide what the work “meant to you” by evaluating how the granular details of the story made you feel...

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On "Getting the Right Answers" to Socratic Questions

On "Getting the Right Answers" to Socratic Questions

One of my favorite, daily tasks at CenterForLit is answering emails from parents and educators who write with questions about literature and homeschooling. I look forward to these conversations, albeit virtual, because I remember the isolation endemic in much of my own homeschooling work...

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On Faith, Hope, and Fear

On Faith, Hope, and Fear

January and February were difficult months for us Andrews types. The new year brought with it two car accidents, a health drama, and a broken furnace in the coldest week of the season. I would love to report that we handled it all with faces “set like flint,” hearts full of faith, and unflappable confidence in God’s goodness, but that wouldn’t be honest... 

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