Monthly Archives: October 2014

Exploring Movies with the Family

By John Rocha

9781400096862_p0_v1_s260x420In 2007, I discovered a book entitled The Best Old Movies For Families: A Guide to Watching Together by Ty Burr while listening to an interview on NPR.  What attracted me to the book was my own background of watching old black and white movies on weekends while in my teens.  Perhaps, I had too much freedom in watching television, but this was also the time before 24 hour airwaves, cable television, and streaming on demand. I discovered movie characters like Charlie Chan and Sherlock Holmes, as well as the acting duos of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and even Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. None of these duos make the book, but that is what makes me fond of it, adding movies that I may not have heard of or watched in while.

I have thought about this book often over the last seven years as families search for middle ground between engaging modern culture and keeping their children from being overrun with technology and media. One suggestion to balance the use of media and technology is to explore movies as a family, rather than leaving children to experience the digital world alone. Ty Burr is a professional movie critic for the Boston Globe and has past experience with Entertainment Weekly. What brought him to write the book was his experience in sharing his love of movies with his two young daughters.   Continue reading Exploring Movies with the Family

Chess, Chivalry, and Story: The Beginning of the Hero’s Journey

By Beto Carmona

parsifal-in-quest-of-the-holy-grail-ferdinand-leekeSome of the sweetest joys of being a teacher are those moments when the books are set aside, the pencils are put down, and everyone in class delves deep into a good, captivating conversation spurred by a topic brought up in class. At Western Academy, we, students and teachers, are free to be leisurely, just because it is good to be so. Without sacrificing high standards for our boys, we let the boys experience what Aristotle meant when he said, “We work in order to have leisure” (Pieper 20). To this noble end, this year our barefooted boys are rediscovering an innate, joyful and angelic love of learning through a focus on leisure in the Chess, Chivalry, and Story (CSS) class, where the boys are instructed in the high art of The Dangerous Book for Boys to equip them for the hero’s journey of life. Continue reading Chess, Chivalry, and Story: The Beginning of the Hero’s Journey

Nature Nurtures the Liberal Arts

By Adam Thompson

Nature answers all he asks; 
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks, 
Part and parcel of her joy,— 
Blessings on the barefoot boy! 
From John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Barefoot Boy”

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 12.35.27 PMThough Whittier’s Romantic conception of Nature as a benevolent female companion to the barefoot boy may blithely paper over the often brutal character of a natural order that is frequently indifferent to man’s plight, the characterization nonetheless illuminates the great potential for learning that Nature extends to those who requite her offers of love. The barefoot boy who delights in the manifold sights, smells, sounds, and textures of Nature will grow into a man alive, a man better able to appreciate the poetic mysteries of the created order and to master the fickle temperament and prickly perils of his moody friend. In fact, the barefoot boy perfectly captures one of the touchstones of a liberal arts education— Nature provides the ideal learning environment for a boy to discover the true meaning of his freedom. Continue reading Nature Nurtures the Liberal Arts

The Art of Poetry: A Deeper Participation in Reality

By Christopher Hall

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. - Socrates

The reason why the philosopher is compared to the poet is that both are concerned with wonders. For the myths with which the poets deal are composed of wonders, and the philosophers themselves were moved to philosophize as a result of wonder. – St. Thomas Aquinas

r1208191_15708564We want the boys at Western Academy to be wise, and in order for them to be wise they must first conceive of the world as miraculous and wondrous, and poetry helps them do this. By “miraculous” I don’t mean full of fairy dust and arbitrary pseudo-explanations. I mean a sense that the world is “charged with the grandeur of God,” to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins; the world is not just a concatenation of brute facts, but a marvel and wonder to behold. No one who wanted to write poem about a mountain would settle with a list of the stones and minerals of which it is made, because there’s more than that making the mountain, and that is, ultimately, the idea of the mountain in the mind of God.

The boys’ experience of wonder and the miraculous incites them to knowledge, but this knowledge does not simply explain the phenomena of the world, which it relates to the boy who knows. Rather, true knowledge occurs when the boy interiorizes the reality of the sensed phenomena. A fact, on its own, cannot properly be interiorized, because it cannot be related to. It’s just there. But truth is relatable; the boy can be there with it. Poetry interiorizes, as well, and poetry is its own kind of knowledge, what St. Thomas called poetica scientia. Continue reading The Art of Poetry: A Deeper Participation in Reality