Yes, It Matters What They Read


Browsing at Brandy’s Afterthoughts, I came across this excellent article by Professor Anthony Esolen:

“Anyway, the gist of the solon’s objection to my criticisms was that we want students to be able to cite evidence when they make a claim about anything. My objection to his objection, as I was running out of time, was that, as worthy a goal as that might be, that’s not what a literature course is really about. He was thinking about tests, and I was thinking about David Copperfield. He was thinking of technique, and I was thinking about the imagination and truth.

Now that I have the benefit of some time for reflection, and for looking at the page in question, I see that I missed an opportunity to make a crucial point. It has less to do with literature, to which I’ll return in a moment, than with the whole aim of an intellectual life—even of a human life. That aim is to behold the truth, and to love it for its beauty.”

Read it all. It’s important, especially for homeschooling parents.

It reminded me of the way the whole model of the current view of education sees books as mere delivery systems for various ‘goals and standards’ which can be met without ever actually reading a book.  It’s the same way in the world of food and nutrition, where we have moved from seeing food as food, to seeing it as packaged nutrients.

If you doubt that educationists see books as merely delivery systems, stop and think about a common statement we hear when a discussion of the content of books comes up.  Can you guess?  It’s some variation on the theme of ‘well, it doesn’t matter what they read, so long as they are reading.’

What?  If it doesn’t matter, then why bother?  What a depressingly materialistic, technocrat view of the life of the mind.  Our children deserve much, much more than this.


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