Wednesday, April 02, 2008

agere sequitur esse

Liam was describing to me his stay at the Benedictine monastery and the balance between ora et labora, study and meals, active and contemplative.

I liked the way Thomas Aquinas and Education, described Aquinas's view of teaching, which puts into words the satisfaction I get from homeschooling:

"For teaching and scholarship constituted Thomas' way, as a Dominican, of fulfilling the common Christian calling to love God by serving others. So it is hardly surprising to find him more than once expounding a thesis drawing upon Christian spirituality's familiar distinction between the contemplate life of hermitage or cloister and the active life followed by most people.

Teaching, says Thomas, is a nice blend of both styles. For the teacher's energies converge upon two objects: the material that he teaches and the students to whom he teaches it. Consequently, the verb docere, like the English "to teach", takes a double accusative -- which should resolve any forced antinomy between a pupil-centered and a curriculum-centered school.

Insofar as the teacher must, by his own study, master the discipline he would teach, his life is contemplative. Yet it is even more properly called active, Thomas declared, since this study is ultimately directed toward helping one's neighbor and the active life consists chiefly in a man's relations with his neighbor. Indeed, this blend of study and teaching is better than mere contemplation, just as to illuminate is better than simply to shine."

Also, this:

THe Thomistic philosophical perspective on man also underscores the inadequacy of thinking about education only in terms of intellectual development. For it reminds us that man must be seen as a font of action since to exist is to act: Agere sequitur esse. Even a stone continuously repels other objects from pre-empting the space it occupies. But to say that man is intelligent is to say that he is capable of free action, because he can know alternatives that are opposed but not predetermining. At life's countless crossroads we are obliged to decide which of the possible turnings we should reasonably take. The ethical diminesion that is the dimension of choice is, therefore, the setting of life and education."

I think in part this expresses how many ways there might be to give a child an education, and how a true education will have its fruit in the ability of the child to become a reflective, responsible adult. I have been thinking about this but it will have to wait because I had an allergic reaction last night and my face is puffy and my mind is hazed with Benadryl.

Life continues to be more disconnected than I like it to be. Every day we seem to have to go somewhere -- from an orthodontist appointment, to more testing at the school, to physical therapy twice a week, to a regular GI clinic. Then there are there more fun trips, like a combine for my football playing son, a possible visit to Liam at college, and homeschool Stations of the Cross. But except for the local school meetings, everything is 20 to 60 miles away one way.

Plus we all have colds, I am looking forward to when the last of the snow melts and spring is really here, and we can go on some nature walks and NOT spend the afternoon in a car!

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