Friday, January 25, 2008

Lectio -- Extensive and Intensive, Cursiva and Stataria

The following are quotes from Francis Crotty's book called Implementation of Ignatian Education in the Home. Bear with me because this is groundwork for talking about lectio cursiva and lectio stataria. Funny, when I go Googling, the only things that come up with regard to those terms are my own posts and a few texts written in German or Latin ;-). So here are the quotes and then I've tried to paraphrase them in my own words since I know it's really difficult to read quotes taken from context:

Selective Emphasis

In respect to the treatment of subjects in the curriculum, home teachers must avoid attempting to cover wide areas of subject-matter with equal emphasis on all of its phrases. They must rather select salient aspects for intensive treatment and cover subsidiary phases in summary form. For example, general courses in history and literature are of little or no educational value unless they are conducted on this basis of selective emphasis... p 24
The short version -- it's effective to combine in-depth treatment of a topic with a survey-level approach. This is particularly true in courses like history and literature, because you want both an awareness of the "big picture" AND a method of delving more deeply into particular aspects of the whole. A century book or timeline is a nice way to do this with history and for literature, a cluster of books on a topic can be a good way to go.

Lectio Cursiva and Lectio Stataria:

Depending upon the stage of the lesson, the teacher may develop a few aspects of the lesson thoroughly (lectio stataria) or go into many aspects by way of introduction to a new subject of preparation for a review or wide and rapid teaching of subject matter (lectio cursiva).
My short version -- decide what is best in a particular lesson -- either a "big picture" survey or approach, or a more in-depth treatment. What you decide on may depend on many factors -- I decide based on what we have available, what I know about the subject personally, whether the little ones are cranky that day, or based upon whether one of the other assignments for that day is cursory or in-depth (I like to balance those things so the kids are using different parts of their intellectual equipment for different lessons -- as Charlotte Mason says, variety in lessons during a day).

More on Intensive and Extensive Treatment of Subjects

In view of the pedagogical problem created by the immense growth of knowledge, there is needed a principle of selectivity of subjects, of limitation of subject-matter, and a technique for both intensive and extensive treatment of this subject matter....

The principle of the limitation of subject-matter is based on the formational function of education....

..The principle of intensive-extensive treatment of subject matter rests on the fact that merely extensive treatment would lead to superficiality and too restricted treatment would prevent a sufficiently broad view and result in lack of student interest and stimulation. Hence, there must be both intensive and extensive treatment of subject-matter: intensive within the home-class, to fulfill the formative function, and extensive, in required and independent reading, apart from home-class, for the adequate knowledge appreciation, eg of literary works and their historical setting.

This part explains the disadvantage of too shallow or too in-depth an approach and suggests that "teacher-time" ought to be spent conveying a method -- analytical or synthetic. Analysis is breaking things down into parts -- categorizing or parsing or translating. Synthesis is putting things together -- discussions or compositions or narrations. Reading aloud is definitely a premium use of teacher time since there are few ways to better set an example for comprehension, enjoyment and even elocution than by reading with a child, and if you can cuddle up on a couch together while reading that is even better, truly an almost- perfect "whole" way to educate.

Education is meant to be formative -- that is, teaching habits and methods and an attitude that will last throughout life. When in doubt, that is the aspect to consider first, so it doesn't usually work to push through the checklist at all costs to the point of tears and bitterness (this is my paraphrase of what he is saying).

Types of the Whole

A practical solution for the teacher (who is short of time) to combine the intensive and extensive system in teaching the matter for the first time. Some parts of the subject, some periods of history, some scientific principles, warrant careful and detailed explanation and study, while other phases can be summarized, or typical segments can be treated thoroughly and shown to be representative of the whole.
Personally, what I do is try to glance ahead at my children's reading to see what areas I would like to consolidate in their minds and which are less key. A more relaxed way to do this is to "discover" together and go on rabbit trails based on interest or availability of resources. To be honest, this is my default mode of operation and it does work but ideally, the Ignatian method calls for a bit of preparation ahead of time.

Now to leave the Ignatian Education and move onto the one other place I found the terms "lectio cursiva et stataria" mentioned in a book written in English online. Here is a bit from a book called "Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic" and this is the relevant section:

The third rule under this head is "Accommodate the intensity of the reading to the importance of the work. Some books therefore are only to be dipped into; others are to be run over rapidly; and others are to be studied long and sedulously." All books are not to be read with the same attention; and accordingly, an ancient distinction was taken of reading into lectio cursiva and lectio stataria. The former of these we have adopted into English, cursory reading being a familiar and correct translation of lectio cursiva. But lectio stataria cannot be so well rendered by the expression of stationary reading. "Read not," says Bacon in his Fiftieth Essay, "to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. " (The whole quote from Bacon is here) ...
You will notice that when this Hamilton is discussing "reading" it looks like he is talking about the kind of reading a person does when he is already educated. But in Ignatian education, the way I understand it, a large part of the coursework was based on "readings", so the terms "cursiva" and "stataria" in that context referred to how the material was studied and taught. (of course, the goal for the teaching was that the student would eventually be able to carry this out on his own). Basically the class would go through a book and study specific sections in great detail, while reading larger sections at home in their own time and then reviewing/discussing their independent reading in class. They also memorized sections of the works they were studying, and wrote themes -- compositions -- based on them. There is a lot more detail about the process in this excellent article by Robert Schwickerath called The Method of Teaching in Practice. I think I have mentioned it before but it really is a great resource.

Oh, and that reminds me that I finally found the CS Lewis quote I've been looking for for the longest time -- here it is, since it seems to relate a bit to the quote above:

“An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only. There is hope for a man who has never read Malory or Boswell or Tristaram Shandy or Shakespeare’s Sonnets: But what can you do with a man who says he ‘has read’ them, meaning he has read them once, and thinks that this settles the matter? … We do not enjoy a story fully at first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness."

But I'd better stop now, I see. For one thing, Paddy wants me to read to him... again! More on this lectio subject another time.


Drew said...

Thank you so much for this post! It synthesizes :) thoughts that have been rolling around in my head of late.

What's the source of the CSL quote? And in your reading of him, have you ever come across the source of his statement of the value of Greek and Latin? "Hardly any lawful price would seem to me too high for what I have gained by being made to learn Latin and Greek." TIA!

Willa said...

I am glad it helped. I almost took the post off the blog thinking "Who would be interested in this besides me?" ;-)

The CS Lewis quote is from the essay On Stories (I really hope that link works).

Now I have never come across that quote before, but googling it tells me that it comes from Rehabilitations which appears to be going for around 500 dollars at Amazon...hmm. Probably that explains why I've never read it before.

At least that is the attribution given in this article on Lewis' metaphysics and this book preview on Lewis's Chronicles .

(I really hope those links work).

I found it by googling the first part of the quote, the part about losing the reading of Plato and Aristotle being like the amputation of a limb. I found that part of it by finding the rest of the quote (quoted by you at MP site)

"To lose what I owe to Plato and Aristotle would be like the amputation of a limb. Hardly any lawful price would seem to me too high for what I have gained by being made to learn Latin and Greek."

So there you go. I hope it helps. I will have to look and see if my ILL has a copy of that Lewis book.

Drew said...

Thank you so much! Our local library system has one copy of Rehabilitations - but I guess at the price they're going for, I should be grateful they have it at all! Where would I be without interlibrary loan?

Us! said...

Thank you Willa. I am so glad you posted this- your sharp mind always amazes me.

I am going to brew over this again tomorrow when I am not so sleepy.

Yes, I can totally see the beauty of the trees/forest focus. I have seen this in our history studies when I lean too far to in depth/ cursory.


lissla lissar said...

Oh, that's an excellent quote. I think I've read that essay, but I read it years ago.