Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Liberal education is a conversation . . .

Mark Kingwell, a teacher in Toronto, on returning to a humanistic basis for education:

We philosophers don’t value Plato because he has been around so long; he has been around so long because he’s valuable. . . .

Sitting together in groups, with a shared text before us, still works as well as it did two millennia ago. And many innovations, such as flashy PowerPoint slides or “clickers” that rate instant comprehension, are just gadgets. Gadgets can be fun, but they are no substitute for reading, writing and discussion. . . 
Liberal education is a conversation, not a data transfer that might be accomplished as well online. That conversation starts in a room, with other people. It can even be a large room, if the professor is engaging and enthusiastic.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Montaigne's beams and the cultivation of freedom

A friend posted these links:.

The first is a catalog of the inscriptions that Montaigne placed on the beams of his famous library.

The second is an editorial on why narrow models of education are a betrayal of pedagogy.

Monday, October 08, 2012

An unusual wall painting in Pompeii.

As we've often alluded to the complex relationship of the worldview of the Greeks to that of the Hebrews -- here's a painting found at Pompei that suggests at least an awareness of the Old Testament wisdom books among 1st Century AD Romans:

According to Theodore Feder, the painting depicts the scene of Solomon in judgment, and the two women each claiming to be the mother of an infant, and how he decided that case. Feder says it's quite likely that the two figures on the far left, observing the scene, were meant to represent Socrates and Aristotle, thus bringing Hellenic philosophy into the chambers of Israel's wisest king.

Interestingly, Socrates's posture here is not unlike that of a satyr, which is interesting in light of a tradition stemming from Plato's Symposium. In that dialogue, Alcibiades compares Socrates to Silenus, an ugly old satyr to all appearances, but one who contains invaluable riches within. Feder's article is here. More on Silenus on the Ovid blog here.

(Thanks to Arline for the pointer to Feder's article.)