A Primer for Philosophy and Education

My friend and Patheos colleague Sam Rocha has written a primer for philosophy and education. He asked me to read it before it came out and write a blurb for it, and I cheerfully agreed and opened the little book totally ignorant of the fact that Sam was about to punch me in the face and then give me a big hug.

Here’s what I wrote about the book then:

“Sam Rocha’s Primer is something I’ve literally never seen before. It’s a little book that is ostensibly about education and philosophy and really is about those things, not about theories or methods. No single sentence or page in this primer was earth-shattering; it all seemed familiar, if vaguely so. But like all truly innocent things, this little book left me shattered. It reminded me, gently and simply, that I had forgotten the purpose of life, the way to go about it, and why it matters. Rocha’s little primer ends as innocently as it begins: with an admonishment for the reader to be in love. ‘Love alone is sufficient for all things,’ Rocha says. But what could elsewhere be mistaken for a saccharine Hallmark observance here has the force of a punch. This is a book everyone should read, whether you’re a university student or a hairdresser or a high school football player. It is a primer for philosophy and education, at their most basic levels. As such, it’s really a primer for life.”

I’ll expand my review a little here, since (as those who disagree with me tend to point out rather gleefully) this blog is mainly aimed at wives, mothers, and those who eschew footwear.

Sometimes I forget that my primary task as a mother is to educate my children. I get so caught up in trying to keep the house clean, the budget balanced, the bills paid, the bottoms cleaned, the blog updated, the bread baked, and the chicken stock simmering that I neglect my most important duty as a mother: answering all those questions that begin with, “why, Mommy?” I’m with my kids all day long. I am their primary and often sole conduit to the Great World Beyond. It is my sacred duty to guide them there, to teach them about life, the universe, and everything…even if it means being honest sometimes and saying, “I don’t know the answer to that. Let’s find it together.”

That requires a willingness to live in the present, instead of brushing off questions with promises to answer them later. The reality is, I won’t remember the question and neither will the kids. It requires a willingness to love my kids and to love knowledge. It requires a willingness to keep learning myself, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself.

It’s really easy to lose sight of that in the grueling, sticky abyss of mothering lots of young children. But these formative years are crucial if I want to instill a deep love of truth in my kids. Sam’s Primer for Philosophy and Education has been a flashpoint for me, a reminder not only of what I’m supposed to be doing, but of how I’m supposed to be doing it.

I truly think this is a book that everyone should read, but it will especially hit home with mothers, whether you homeschool or conventional school or unschool. It’s something I’ve turned back to several times already and will continue to keep handy. It’s something my kids will be reading, probably multiple times. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you’re still not convinced, you can check out the reviews on the book’s promotional website. If I’ve done as good a job with this review as the book deserves, you can buy it here on Amazon or here on Createspace.

If you want to know more about this Sam Rocha character before buying his book, check out his blog here on Patheos. His insights on education are spectacular, and he approaches everything with a totally unique point of view that always makes me realize just how heavily my own thinking is influenced by mainstream cultural rhetoric.

 

  • Teresa Ayers

    I really appreciate your review of this book. I feel like it’s often difficult to engage in serious anything, especially philosophical reflection with little ones in the house and diapers and potty training are about all the conversation consists of during the day. I’ll have to add it to my wish list…

  • Melanie Bettinelli

    I’ll have to check this out. Two of my favorite topics.
    I like to think I’m pretty good about keeping education in the forefront, but it is all too easy even for me to get caught up in the housekeeping and baby wrangling and “in a minute” becomes never.

  • beth turner

    I do Aristotelian causes (formal, material, efficient, and final) with my 3-year-old and I LOVE IT! I learn so much when I’m trying to answer his “whys”. He’s started to get annoyed with it lately (“No, Mommy, I’m not talking about causes. I just want to know why!”), but I hope he’ll enjoy it again in the future.

  • Cordelia

    A timely book for Mother’s Day! It’s going on my Amazon list right now.


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