Posts tagged ‘Hicks’

April 6, 2012

without presuming to tell them how to use it

Aristotle’s education assumed his students’ future leisure and taught them how to use it, the modern educator—assuming the psychological enslavement of the proletariat—would teach his students how to acquire more leisure without presuming to tell them how to use it.

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, pages 76.

April 6, 2012

they must fail to excite

The inability of the present generation of young people to read, write, and think is only a symptom of our departure from dialectical learning, but it is everywhere being treated as the disease itself. So long as these skills are valued only for utilitarian ends, such as those delineated by Mao, they must fail to excite in our youth the efforts necessary for their mastery. Not until we once again recognize and articulate the transcendent value of sound thinking, wide reading, and lucid writing will our students respond to their lessons enthusiastically.

…The pedagogical avoidance of dialectic and dogma and of whatever touches man in his individual and religious domains forfeits the possibility for a truly classical education. Whereas Socrates’ dialectic embraced the whole and encouraged a struggle between the normative and utilitarian and between the dialectical and the analytical, modern ideology declares the struggle ended by peremptorily deciding the issue in favor of the utilitarian and analytical.

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, pages 75-76.

February 29, 2012

what lies beyond the five senses

It takes little training to doubt what lies beyond the five senses and no effort at all to drop the stern demands of noblesse oblige. (49)

…Only Odysseus’ knowledge of the past–his longing for Ithaka, Penelope, and Telemakhos–keeps him alive; and only the responsibility he takes for that knowledge rescues him from Kalypso’s pointless life of pleasure. (51)

From David Hicks’ Norms and Nobility.

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February 22, 2012

fills the young person’s head with the sound of voices

The poet, Plato writes in Phaedra, “clothes all the great deeds accomplished by the men of old with glory, and thus educates those who come after.” The poet’s myth teaches the Ideal Type by example, not by precept, and allows the student through his imagination to participate in the past, partaking of the Ideal. Often the student is asked—paraphrasing Shelly—to go out of his own nature: to imagine himself in the sandals of some mythical or historical figure. How would you have advised the Senate, his teacher might ask him, had you been Regulus returned from Carthage with the ultimatum? (45)

Likewise in classical schools, students are often asked to play the “devil’s advocate”…. This … negates certain parts of the Ideal in such a way that the negation demonstrates the nonessential nature of these parts. …In any case, classical education eventually fills the young person’s head with the sound of voices: the impassioned debate of many great figures of myth and history concerning what is good, beautiful, and excellent in man. Through his imagination, the student participates in this dialectical confabulation, and his thoughts and actions become literally involved with the Ideal Type. The Ideal is refined, and action and thought join inextricably in the life of virtue. (47)

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks.

February 21, 2012

white star of Truth

Rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith and trimmed its fire,
Showed me the high, white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze and there aspire.

Matthew Arnold

Quoted at the start of chapter three in David Hick’s Norms and Nobility (36).

February 18, 2012

across the face of the waters

From Norms and Nobility: a Treatise on Education by David Hicks (35):

Righting this imbalance necessitates a classical understanding of the nature of language, which acknowledges its mystery and weds the word to the mind through the imagination, not exclusively to the external object through the senses. …A love of words and an understanding of language are the creative movement of the spirit across the face of the waters.

February 6, 2012

conflict which shares its purposes is good

David Hicks in Norms and Nobility:

The theoretic life completes the individual, holding him against the warmth of the divine spark in his nature and making sense of an existence otherwise consumed by the infinite wishing of one thing for the sake of another. Indeed, the theoretic life is the life of virtue…: the life that knows and reveres, speculates and acts upon the Good, that loves and re-produces the Beautiful, and that pursues excellence and moderation in all things. (21)

Do we not understand that conflict which shares its purposes is good and that uniformity does not mean unity any more than conformity signifies independent and intelligent agreement? (26)

January 26, 2012

we like heroes in shirtsleeves

My teaching experience has led me to believe that unless my aims are more broadly defined than to make my students rational thinkers, I will surely fail to achieve even that. Education must address the whole student, the teacher’s methods, the books and lessons, the traditions, and regulations of the school—all must express not just ideas, but norms, tending to make young people not only rational, but noble.

From Norms and Nobility: a Treatise on Education by David Hicks in his “Preface to the 1990 Edition” on page vi.

This quote (with which Hicks opens chapter one) is closely related:

I know that we live in an age where the homely or psychological detail is considered all-important. We like heroes in shirtsleeves, or, in other words, we don’t like heroes. But things were not always that way, and today is not forever.

From Louis Auchincloss’ 1964 novel The Rector of Justin (quoted by David Hicks in Norms and Nobility on page 1).

Finally, a passage about teachers in such schools:

Having now had an opportunity to study schools as a headmaster as well as a teacher, I would argue that the teacher, not the curriculum proposed in this book, needs to be the focus of reform. The greatest value of the curriculum proposed in this book, I now believe, is that it sustains and nurtures teachers as practitioners of the art of learning while discouraging non-learners from entering the profession.

…Schools are places where students learn because they are places where teachers learn. Only a school (and by extension a curriculum) that encourages teachers to be always learning will keep its teachers fresh and fearless and its students happy and motivated in their studies, ready to test their lessons against life.

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks in his “Preface to the 1990 Edition” on page viii.

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