Deschooling RED: Beyond the Fear of Failure

In 1840, Horace Mann, the first Secretary of Education in the State of New Hampshire (and anywhere else in the United States), wrote these words in an article for the third volume of the newly-founded Common School Journal, on his beloved and controversial Whig project, The Common School Movement: Let the common school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked to the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long … [Read more...]

Deschooling Religious Education, in Six Claims

1. Compulsory schooling came to the United States in the 18th century, during the Whig "common school movement," built on the Prussian model that was founded after the advent of the Prussian research university. The first compulsory schooling laws were passed in the late 1850's, in New Hampshire and New York. A lot of that movement was motivated by a defensive belief that parents could not be trusted to raise their children. This is where the legal concept of in loco parentis came from.2. … [Read more...]

Compulsory Schooling and Preventative War — Or, Why Children Have to Go to School

In the secular liturgical cycle of the American year, two seasonal certainties stand out: going to school and filing taxes. In the late summer and early fall, we send our children to school under penalty of law. (Even students at charter, private, or home schools are still under the same structural authority, leveraged by truancy laws, as those who attend public schools.) In the late winter and early spring, we file taxes under similar legal compulsion.We all know that truancy and tax evasion … [Read more...]

Pope Francis endorsed MY book, too!

For some time now we've all seen how much Pope Francis reiterates the central theme and problem of idolatry treated at length in Elizabeth Scalia's book, Strange Gods. He even "endorsed" it! (I endorse it too, by the way, and hope to give a full review of it here very soon.) Nathaniel Peters agrees in his recent review of Lumen Fidei, at First Things.Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that Francis took time to endorse my own book, A Primer for Philosophy and Education, too, during … [Read more...]

Philosophy in a Trout Stream

Over the past two summers in rural Indiana, I rekindled my life-long love of fishing. Last summer, just before our trek up north, a student told me about a small river nearby where trout were released and could be caught by special permit. Having grown-up fishing for rainbow and brook trout in southwest Colorado, I jumped at the chance. He picked me up the next morning; I got my trout stamp, and we were off.We arrived and decided to work our way with the current through a section of water that … [Read more...]

The Teacher-Centered Classroom

Last week I gave two talks at Wabash College. The second talk was unfortunately not recorded. The administration at Wabash College seems to find very serious and somewhat technical lectures on aesthetics, philosophy, and teaching very dangerous these days---so much for the liberal arts. I recorded the noon talk, and the very interesting discussion that followed, myself; here it is, for those who might be interested: The Teacher Centered Classroom. Next week, I'll be training to Portland, OR, to g … [Read more...]

Is God an Introvert? A Review of “Quiet,” by Susan Cain

Michael Richmond was not my student, with the exception of his senior comprehensive oral exam. I was his examiner for his major in philosophy. He was a English and philosophy double-major. It was early. He was terribly nervous and clumsy and had trouble identifying a simile, and muttered through he details of Kafka's Metamorphosis. I asked him odd questions about the absurd and tried to get him to say something interesting. He left the room as soon as he could and earned a deservingly average … [Read more...]

Space, and not being smart in an e-mail.

Sorry, readers. The end of the month is usually the time when I'm trying to meet all the end of the month deadlines that I should've started to work on a month or more ago. I'm swamped. In the meantime, here's an e-mail I just sent to my Foundations of Educational Thought class. You might find it interesting.Some context: I often assign an infamous first paper where students must describe the word 'word' in one page. The better way to put the prompt is like this. Describe the following shape: … [Read more...]

Education, The Craft of Desire

There is a universal and inextricable relationship between desire and belief.This relationship contains and reveals the natural, religious, and erotic order of things.It is no surprise, then, that New Atheists are today's fiercest defenders of religious belief in their evangelical zeal, straw-man debates, and group therapy sessions. Echo chambers.No, I'm not going to spell this out to the predictably irritable vigilantes out there.I simply want to point out two well-known facts about … [Read more...]

Two Notre Dame Rebuttals

My post yesterday defending Notre Dame produced a mostly interesting comment box --- including some classic Petrine wit. I also received several e-mails, all of them very thoughtful and honest, regardless of their opinion on the matter. As a result, I realize that I ended up casting too wide a net, trapping fish I never intended to catch, and also weaving a net with too wide a mesh, conveniently letting certain fish pass through that perhaps do not deserve it.And then there is this: Sycamore … [Read more...]