What Mathematics Can Teach Us About Literature

What Mathematics Can Teach Us About Literature

Missy and I spend a lot of time showing parents how to teach short stories with pictures by means of simple questions like “does the main character succeed?” This approach has helped thousands of teachers get young students started in literary reading with children’s classics like Mem Fox’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Patricia MacLachlan’s All the Places to Love, or Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. But what, we are often asked, should older students do?...

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Flowers, Seeds, and Students

Flowers, Seeds, and Students

I can’t stop thinking about the passage in C. S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory that I wrote about last time, where he cautions us against idolizing our memories of the past: “they are only the scent of a flower we have not found,” he says. I am sure he chose that image because of a flower’s beauty, but I wonder if he also had in mind how fleeting that beauty was designed to be...

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Teaching the Past with Woody Allen

Teaching the Past with Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s 2011 movie Midnight in Paris has it all: a star-studded cast, fantastic music, beautiful settings, and great camerawork. However, its greatest feature is the story itself. The protagonist is aspiring writer Gil Pender, who stumbles into a magic vortex that allows him to travel back to 1920s Paris, a place and time that he considers the high point of Western culture... 

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The Lost Transcendental: What About the Moral Imagination?

The Lost Transcendental: What About the Moral Imagination?

Ian and I did a lot of driving last year. Having recently moved to the middle of the country, equidistant between our two families with almost mathematical precision, we decided to forego flying home for the holidays in favor of seeing America by car. It was a great idea, and we saw a lot of cool landscapes, but let me tell you there are some areas of this beautiful country that are the very reason the Wright brothers desperately turned to flight. Sorry eastern Colorado, but you are one of them...

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"God forgive us:" The Cloud of Broken Witnesses

"God forgive us:" The Cloud of Broken Witnesses

In his thrilling novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson paints the inescapable tension between good and evil in the human spirit. Frankly, that by itself is a pretty good summary of his theme. But, there is more to be said about what he implies concerning human desires and the remedies we can find for them. He doesn't leave us entirely in the dark when it comes to where salvation lies.

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The Perils of Teaching History Through Literature

The Perils of Teaching History Through Literature

Some home school parents think they are killing two birds with one stone when they attempt to teach history through literature. Unfortunately, many of these parents are perpetuating falsehoods, teaching fiction as fact, and training their children to use emotions when trying to understand the meaning of the past. There are many reasons why there are separate genres for non-fiction and fiction, and one of the most important is the critical need to teach children how to discern fact from fiction... 

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The Lost Transcendental: Moral and Theme

The Lost Transcendental: Moral and Theme

In my last post, I examined the so-called ancient Greek “transcendentals,” truth, goodness, and beauty, and suggested that if these concepts are meant to describe qualities that bridge the gap between heaven and earth, we might be missing one. And, in fact, this lost transcendental should stand in front of the other three, like a lens that necessarily colors our attitude toward them. I am talking about grace, which recognizes our condition as flawed human beings and understands that perfect truth, goodness, and beauty can only exist in the Godhead...

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The Wind in the Willows and the Wonder of the Everyday

The Wind in the Willows and the Wonder of the Everyday

A dear friend and former teacher of mine* recently wrote of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, “If ever there was a children’s book written for adults, it is this one.” I whole heartedly agree, and not only because of the stunning beauty of Grahame’s prose.  By way of explanation, I’d like to share a passage from Grahame’s story that, I think, aims right at the heart of his project.

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The Lost Transcendental: My Only Concern for the Classical Education Movement

The Lost Transcendental: My Only Concern for the Classical Education Movement

Prince Hal is one of my dearest friends. I met him at a critical moment in my life, and in fact, it is not entirely an exaggeration to say that he almost single-handedly saved my education.

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