2006-10-22 5:55 AM

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy who?

The cyclic nature of human history constantly amazes me.

“…there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV

What spurred on this latest fit? A very inspiring argument supposed to have been presented in 1947 by Dorothy Sayers (a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien and friend of C.S.Lewis). I say “supposed” because the only reference I have found is at the end of a random web page and I am inspired to pedantic measures by the essayist. Whether presented in 1947 or not, the argument is still valid today with decades of rhetoric on school reform behind us.

In “The Lost Tools of Learning” Ms. Sayers shares her opinion that a proper education should take the form of learning the tools of learning before any serious study of “subjects” is thrust upon students. She takes as her inspiration the Trivium of the Middle Ages — the three disciplines needed for learning and their proper ordering.

Stepping away from her thesis for a moment, I am inspired in several different ways. The first is that I am thankful to my parents and mentors for the level of facility I have with learning new subjects. Another, that I should finish my PhD and have time to shore up any underdevelop areas in my own education just as my first born daughter (currently just over a year old) will be of the age to be fully engaged in Sayers’s version of the Trivium. Another inspiration is that I should really develop that logic course (in all my spare time!) with the challenge of keeping it engaging and possibly entertaining. And the final inspiration I shall share is that I am further reinforced that I am on the right track — developing, discovering, and teaching tools for learning.

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