Nested quotes are hard!!
Systematiker wrote:I'd also like to note that I speak a lot about the Western Canon below, and of Western tradition. This is not to denigrate any other tradition, nor out of any desire to deny anyone a seat at the table. I am very aware of those who have been excluded from said conversation, and the problems of inclusivity (and that's a whole 'nother tangent).
This is actually of interest to me. You can answer or consider this rhetorical musings as you prefer.. but who has been excluded and why? Whole cultures or individuals not lucky enough to live at the right place and time? Because of point in history (relative to destabilizing events), ancient biases, or present biases?
Well, there's a lot of dialogue about certain voices, especially those of women or those who in recent years have been excluded in a significant sense, having been excluded from the conversation - sort of a "dead white men" thing. There's a lot to be said in both directions, especially from the standpoint of a society that's only a couple hundred years old, or societies that are in tension about pluricentrism. I have strong opinions, of course, but I'm not sure we can go into much of that without ending up at least a little bit political.
Systematiker wrote:Indirectly as well, in both the anglophone world and through Europe, we have a cultural tradition of education in these "classical" languages, and "classical" works. If one were particularly interested in that tradition, the modality is through the vehicle of the original, as it's been a bit of Western culture since the Renaissance that the source text in the source language expresses more than a translation.
Ok here is where I am interested. We have a cultural tradition. Who is "we" exactly. What do we do to gain entrance into such group. What is the value of such group that we are selecting our education path to join, and is this education path giving us something of equal or greater value when we consider the opportunity cost for not using a more modern education system.
That "we" was speaking of the larger Western tradition of education and formation. Group identity is a powerful thing, to be sure, and whether one is accepted into such a group, if it exists, or one identifies with it through intentional choices is also something else. Personally, I'm not aware of a "group" as such that I'm trying to belong to so much as being cognizant of the historical pattern and being both by my own upbringing and by my choice in that tradition. As to the value of a classically-oriented versus a "more modern" system, we'd have to perhaps better define what we mean and what we are contrasting. Because we could be talking about content, or methodology, or social environment, or underlying educational theory, and so on. I'm not trying to shut this down, and I'm fine talking about it, but I'm aware that comparing educational styles and theories might be a hot topic for some.
Ani wrote: Systematiker wrote:Regarding cultural signaling, comparative culture, and value by age
Ani wrote:To this end, how do we separate what is cultural signaling in educational choices from what has a quantitative value.. or is it even possible to quantify or analyze great thought across distinct cultures. And how does the idea that "the length of time a work has survived is indicative of the value of ideas it contains" relate here..?
I'm not entirely sure what cultural signaling is, to be honest. Something like virtue signaling, and the desire to belong to a specific cultural tradition?
That is exactly what I mean by cultural signaling. Since this whole 'debate' cropped up because out of a discussion with friends who had decided to start teaching their very young daughter Latin. I proposed a living language as a first step, an idea they rejected off hand. DH and I were discussing WHY and we supposed it might say something about you as a parent and something about your child and their place in society rather different than if you started your child in Russian or Spanish.
(These are good friends by the way, so I am not being judgy about someones educational choices except in the I-really-enjoy-discussing-this-theory sort of way. )
Thanks for that explanation. My first reaction is "but what if it's not external signaling, but habituation into a culture?" That's some of what I'm going to talk about below, but while it might be a "our child started with Latin, look at how erudite and classy we are", it also might be "we want our child to be such-and-such type of person, and historically, those people began Latin early and engaged with, idk, Plutarch's Lives
both as language exercise and character formation". All of which, as you'll see below, is not how I'd do it in their situation.
I'm not sure great thought can be quantified at all, and even influence can be argued for anyone but the really heavy hitters. I think there's perhaps a lot in education that can't be quantified, but I tend to talk about education as both "imparting of knowledge, practical or not" and "formation" (again, something I have from not-English!
Elaborate more on this please?
The "or not" part is the one sort of unique aspect I take in educating my children. I have tried valiantly to eliminate non-practical education. I have to make a few concessions. I think I might have to eventually teach them the pledge of allegiance. Or at least what it is. And we don't spend a week each year talking about "The first Thanksgiving", making handprint turkeys and pilgrim shoes because my goal in history is to avoid teaching things that are so simplified they might as well be lies, which they'll have to re-learn in a few years.
Where do Latin and Greek fit into the "practical or not" category and do you find them practical or not?
Or are they formation?
With "practical or not" I mean something like, as I think Cavesa mentions (please don't make me do more nested quotes) things where music or arts probably won't pay the bills, and you might have to have some humanities in your undergrad but accounting degrees teach a skill. You can't have no practical skills or ability - one has to make a living, and have a vocation. But not everything need be quantified or explained in terms of "value added", lest we end up commodifying what makes us human. Latin and Greek are eminently impractical, I don't care what result they have for SATs or this-or-that field, because I don't want to justify humanities on economic terms (strong opinions here, obviously). They're just as gloriously useless as literature, or the arts, and like both of those, they are humanities (human arts, that which humans do and do well) that train us to practice, well, human-ing well (of course, I have strong opinions about what makes a good human!). So that has to do with formation, at least in part, because we can't really separate the two, what we learn and how we learn it shapes the people we become through the experience of learning it and the people we are then having the lens of it through which we view the world.
so we may not be talking about the same thing here. My question when considering educational choices is more "what sort of person might be shaped by this" or "what sort of person might need to be exposed by this" and seeing of that (in my concept) lines up with my goal (ha, to say nothing of anyone else's goal!).
I don't think time has much to do with value, but within traditions, we do see ideas recur, and I think there's a lot of value in being able to look at a "literary conversation" across the ages, and the manner in which these ideas are taken up, modified, passed on, and have shaped our surroundings.
So on a scale of 1-5, where would you place early exposure to Latin and or Greek for participation in "The Great Conversation"?
So excusing my hipocracy in that I am studying Latin with my 7 year old daughter, I'd say that exposure before age 10 is about a -1. That's a negative 1. Unless it is part of church service for you, in which cause this is a completely different thing. Between the ages of 12-15, for an average kid, I'd say maybe a 2, and if you think he/she is likely to be very languag-y, a doctor, a lawyer, historian, etc, maybe we move into 4-5 level importance.
Really though in comparison to learning a living language first. This is where I get really torn. I believe to learn a spoken language well is really more valuable in the sense of education of the human, but if you are going to learn a language poorly as happens in many schools in America as well as other places, it might be better to learn a dead language poorly than get off on the wrong foot with a living language. Flip flopping, I assume my friends will succeed at teaching their daughters whatever they plan to teach them and so a living language done well in that way has even more benefit.
I'm not really that far off from you, both in your evaluation and your numbers. Living languages first? By all means! For my children, growing up with two languages (and if I have my way, a third that may not be native to me but we will speak!), Latin or Greek becomes more important simply because it's in the same place in line, the line is just further along. We, like you, homeschool, so we have some freedom there. And I do the occasional service in Latin, but that wouldn't be as much a factor in my mind as what the experience of learning Latin did for e.g. my wife (I learned it as an adult).
Latin for us looks like "we got benefit from it, and it can't really hurt in this plan." Greek, I doubt my children will learn unless they express a desire to (maybe Papa reading a lot of Greek in front of them will help?
Also, you've clearly found my Adler influence, and yes, when I teach philosophy and literature I do teach for a Great Books institution
. I do note that I have a number of students, mostly at the doctoral level but some at the master's level, who have benefited immensely from getting at some of the language behind the works they're studying in translation, but for all but a couple they can do fine without facility in the language (given their stage of life and goals).
As one can probably tell, I have specific ideas about education and culture, and come from this viewpoint in much of the above. I've tried not to be pedantic or long-winded (which is difficult at the best of times, and more so when you figure that this is right in the middle of a conversation about stuff that I teach or discuss academically) - if I've been too unclear, or if I've offended anyone, please know I don't mean to, and I'm trying hard to have a nice conversation. My wife tells me not to go on and on and on and on, so I'm trying to not do that as well!
No no I love this. And if anyone feels you have taken a biased viewpoint (or me for that matter as we keep going!) or poorly expressed something as to be offensive (ditto for me), I hope they feel free to jump in here and provide a counter consideration or clarification in the spirit of a nice conversation, because I think that is all any of us are trying to have.
I'm glad, I know that when things get technical I can get pedantic or abrasive, so I was trying to prevent that impression
I'll not quote Cavesa's post, just note that I agree with pretty much everything she said
Ani wrote:Oh yes. I probably should have clarified a bit more, but music is part of formation on my mind (I still don't know exactly what "formation" means to systematiker so I'm using that word my own way for now). My nine year old has been taking piano for 4 years now. My daughter had lessons last year but her tiny elflike hands made it painful so we'll try again in another year or so. They both sing seasonally in a children's choir. I also expect them to learn to draw realistically whether they have interest in art or not. I can see some people might see Latin as part of formation, but so far I can't see how that is justified over a living language from an early age.
I'm not actually against impractical things -- many of the most interesting and wonderful things in life are terribly impractical. I am just against useless and boring. No one is filled with passion for history by learning the standard American grade school history curriculum (I'm guessing that's the same in most of the world). Worse, I felt cheated when I realized how much of the history I had spent my first 8 years of education learning was so simplified and "happi-fied" as to be little more than a lie. In place of that sort of nonsense, I teach geography with just general timelines and delve into history where age appropriate. I try to be economical with my children's time so they can explore their own passions and just have time to BE a human. Although this is not related to teaching time management, I feel they have every right to waste their own time but it is a cardinal sin for me to waste it for them.
Here we are again - I think we are using the term "formation" in the same, if not a very similar way. I also happen to agree with you pretty much in every point (especially the "over a living language" bit).
MorkTheFiddle wrote:My personal objection to Latin is not that it is impractical, but that it is boring.
Well, suum cuique
MorkTheFiddle wrote: As for Latin. Except for reasons of a specialty, or just a special interest, I would not be teaching Latin to anyone. Or Ancient Greek either.
I think that's reasonable, though I would note that a special interest may be the formative aspect of learning it, at least as considered by some.