for The Sistership only

Brandy & Mystie talk for an hour about chapter 3 in Paideia.

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  • What does Homer have to do with classical education?

  • What are the most educative forms of poetic knowledge for our culture?

  • How have you used story in your homeschool?

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5 Responses

  • Great conversation! I looked up the book and requested it from my library, so I’m excited to begin reading. It looks like you’re on the third chapter here – did you do podcast discussions of the first two chapters? (Sorry if you’ve posted those elsewhere and I totally missed them!)

    I love how you were thinking about the difference between whitewashing history vs upholding the Ideal Type for students to contemplate and imitate. I’ve found myself struggling with that in the past, not sure whether it was better to give all the facts, and present multiple sides to historical events, or if it was ok to just let the heroic one-sided picture take precedence. Though, I suppose that’s not exactly the same thing as upholding the Ideal Type, is it? I’d love your thoughts on whether there’s a difference there.

    I’m reminded strongly of the tradition of hagiography, where we get the stories of saints’ lives, with their heroic self-sacrifice, their martyrdom, and their self-emptying love. I’ve wondered in the past why we don’t have more factual accounts of their lives, but I think by elevating the stories to an almost mythical genre we are able to behold the Christ-likeness of the saints and to strive for the Ideal that we see them embody.

    I guess the other side of it though, is that we do need to keep in mind somehow the nitty-gritty, day to day grind, the intense effort, the continual conscious choosing of the Good, that makes that kind of achievement possible.

  • Okay, I hadn’t considered hagiography and the possibility that it falls more in line with Ideal Type than Actual History (not that it isn’t factual — just that the purpose might be more in line with setting a Norm for greatness/virtue). So interesting!

  • A (very) few comments ((mostly because I had something a bit longer on this one written up as I thought chapter three was super interesting, but then via a dummy move lost the whole thing and I just cant. even.))–

    I loved his emphasis on the poetic form itself as being educative—beauty is what will touch man’s soul. Poetry “tells the truth; but it chooses and presents its truth in accordance with a definite ideal” (36). I’m especially galvanized to work harder at teaching my children via what is truly beautiful. I want fewer annoying or patronizing jingles/illustrations/chants/rhymes in their (my) life. Give us truth beautifully!

    Did his line about Homer’s understanding of providence remind anyone else of Boethius? “The psychological and the metaphysical aspects of any event are not mutually exclusive: on the contrary, Homer holds them to be complementary.”

  • I’m finally caught up here and just finshed reading this chapter this morning.

    When he talks about poetry being educative when it “embodies a moral belief, a high ardour of the spirit, a broad and compelling ideal of humanity. And the greatest of Greek poetry does more than show a cross-section of life taken at random. It tells the truth; but it chooses and presents its truth in accordance with a definite ideal.” That’s exactly what I had in mind with my first comment above about hagiography. The idea that a retelling of events must be a bare bones, factual rendering without embellishment or exaggeration is exactly the opposite of what he’s talking about with epic poetry and the opposite of hagiography. I read once that a person really can’t be a Christian unless he is first a poet. Of course that wasn’t a statement meant to be taken literally, with the idea that you can only be a Christian if you WRITE poetry, but he was expressing the idea that a Christian must be able to have the heart to see the deeper meaning behind things and to experience life in such a way as to be cognizant of the invisible world as well as the visible. It’s an interesting idea.

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