Adventures in Learning 1 Recap: What are the Liberal Arts?

2015AdventuresInLearningFlyerAllV4 copyLast Thursday evening, thirty-one people gathered together to hear our Headmaster, Jason Hebert, give a talk entitled, “What are the Liberal Arts?”, kicking off our Adventures in Learning series. Those assembled learned that the Liberal Arts are such that they are not merely to direct a man that he may do but that he may be. Jason showed that each of the Liberal Arts, be they philosophy, literature, history, mathematics, science, or music are all slivers of that Reality beckoning man to strive for the perfection, for which, he was created.  If you were unable to join us, you can hear the audio recordings from the talk here.

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Pinocchio, the Rascals and the Road toward Prudence

By John Rocha, Sr.
pin-1_RobertoInnocentiWe have heard, probably on more than one occasion, “Boys will be boys,” whether it is not doing their homework, showing up at the end of a school day at carpool covered in mud or dirt, or even covered with literal and figurative bruises after a verbal or physical skirmish. I propose that this phrase makes a caricature of boys rather than shedding light or detail on what goes on in a boy’s life or mind. Grown men may not speak aloud, but my thoughts are that Pinocchio, a fairy tale, can be viewed as a day in the life of a ten-year-old boy. My reflections are not based on the animated Pinocchio created by Walt Disney.  There is a distinct difference between Walt Disney’s animation, with which we are all familiar, and Carlo Collodi’s original tale of the puppet.

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Pinocchio, the Liberal Arts and the Formation of the Ontological Boy

By Larry Monks

Thomas Arnold, one of the most renowned headmasters of Rugby School, an independent liberal arts school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England, took a broad view of education from the developing utilitarian ideal of his day. Though he was deeply impressed with the importance of learning subject matter, he realized that it was only a part of education, and that the great aim all together was the formation of a boy’s character. As a boy grows in virtue, Arnold reasoned, he becomes stronger in body, mind and soul. His primary focus begins to turn away from tempting superfluities towards discovering beauty, truth and wisdom in the world. This discovery, Arnold argued, is of primary importance because from this all “practical” purposes of education simply become a natural result of the greater end. In Arnold’s day, and even more so today, boys struggle as they come to discover that striving for all that is good and virtuous is what ultimately leads them to become who they are meant to be. This is what a liberal arts education accomplishes—the formation of the whole boy, which is something that the main character in Carlo Collodi’s classic Pinocchio ardently seeks yet initially misses due to his ignorance and submission to his passions.innocenti-pin-4

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Pinocchio and Prevenient Grace

cdc16c1d94eaacafb0305a81bb2092fdThe notion that each person is solely responsible for his or her own fate, his or her own success or failures, is a tempting one, especially in a highly (indeed, some might say too highly) individualized society such as our own. But this is not only misleading, it is harmful to the very virtue for which the individual most longs; it tempts us towards censoriousness regarding others, and vanity regarding ourselves. It’s easy for us to blame others harshly for their faults: this man is greedy, this woman has a short-temper, this child is peevish. And it’s just as easy (if not easier) for us to become puffed up on account of our own (perceived) virtues: I am patient, I am hardworking, I am kind, I am not like these others. Continue reading Pinocchio and Prevenient Grace

Earning Boyhood in Pinocchio

“Oh, I’m sick of being a puppet!” cried Pinocchio, giving himself a slap on the head. “It’s time that I became a man!” 
“And you will become one, if you deserve it."
“Really? And what can I do to deserve it?”
“A very easy thing: learn to be a good boy.” (Collodi 115-117)

tumblr_ldqxqyr14Y1qbluruo1_1280Learning to be a good boy proves a trying task for the brash and imprudent, though strangely still lovable, eponymous puppet of Carlo Collodi’s classic fairy tale, Pinocchio. Time and again, the wooden rascal boldly sets out to be worthy of boyhood only to get sidetracked by the glittering promise of easy money (Field of Miracles), endless fun (Playland), and a life devoted “to eat, drink, sleep, and amuse myself, and to lead a vagabond life from morning to night” (Collodi 23). These hollow enchantments fail to satisfy Pinocchio and lead him into various snares of self-imposed slavery (long nose, prison, donkey form) or external conflicts (burning, stabbing, hanging, drowning, eaten) that threaten his very existence. As a result, Pinocchio’s journey to boyhood moves in fits and starts and is nearly derailed at several junctures were it not for a serendipitous turn of events, a chorus of symbolic consciences scattered throughout his path (most notably the talking cricket), and the ever-forgiving and ever-loving Geppetto and blue fairy. Continue reading Earning Boyhood in Pinocchio

Prodigal Puppet

By Tony Janeiro

“Where your heart is there is your treasure."

Fleeing through the obscurity of night the inevitable assassins, Pinocchio begins to despair. At that moment, in the light of his understanding of the utter hopelessness of his situation he espies a cottage gleaming in the distance as “snow upon the trees.” A hope lights up his heart and fuels him to seek the seeming refuge. An hour later he arrives only to discover the door barred to him. Furiously he knocks and kicks but the door will not yield to force. However, overhead a window is opened revealing a lovely maiden with azure hair, eyes closed, face pale as wax. She tells Pinocchio that no one will answer the door for all in the house are dead and that she is only at the window to await the coffin. She retires back into the house and the window shuts. Pinocchio pleads to the maiden to take pity on him, but no sooner does he mention his pursuers than he is captured, tortured and strung up on the nearest tree. There upon the gallows oak he hangs between life and death hoping against hope for his rescue. With his breath dwindling and no help in sight Pinocchio cries from the bottom of his heart his departing thought, “Father, Father if only you were here.”

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An Artist Wrestling with Technological Magic

By Doug Klatt

Bustling, hustling, doing, choosing,
At frenetic pace we move
Changing, lazy, crazy,
Spirit hazy
Backward and forward we groove
Open a screen, search for meaning
Take me away..........we cry
Whisk me away..........we sigh
From this pain, From this craving
From the rain in my soul, for I need saving
I lurch, I search
I work, but what do I need? 
What really feeds me?
Why do I grieve? 
Why do I seathe?
Only Grace, only Grace helps me truly see
So please, please help me ride Heaven’s White Steed: 
For: “The Lord is my shepherd! I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”

canstockphoto8635325-Shepherd-watching-flock2How many of us crave these green pastures? I yearn on many a day just to lie down in a green pasture. But instead of seeking the green pasture of Grace, we search, we crave. Currently we live in a culture which facilitates our cravings more and more easily.

With a click of the button we move to another country or experience a wondrous thing somebody is doing on YouTube. Yes, technology is wondrous! Oh, truly it is magic! Nothing less than magic and our culture is enamored with it. No, it is addicted to the magic!  Continue reading An Artist Wrestling with Technological Magic

In a Word

By Patrick Miggins

Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. - Henry James

An air is more lasting than the voice of the birds, a word is more lasting than the riches of the world. – Irish proverb

14066799200_36b69d17e3_zI have lately been using a learning strategy known as “Word by Word,” which challenges students to review their notes and understanding of a text and sum up a narrative in one single word, a word that best epitomizes the essence of the story. Taken on a notecard after reading, discussion, and more formal writing on the assigned text, this single word quiz, not surprisingly, has been the most popular quiz the boys have taken all year! The exercise is a hit because it is lively, it sharpens focus, and it enriches the group mind through sharing. The boys look forward to it as it allows each mind to shine amidst his peers, so long as the student can qualify his diction.  As a teacher, I enjoy getting to know the quality and cogency of the thinking of each student, and I am very often impressed and pleasantly surprised as they expound upon their winnowed word!  Continue reading In a Word