At The Table

Thinking about Jesus, culture, and everyday life.

Category: Words and Writing (page 2 of 2)

The Lost Tools of Learning

Is not the great defect of our education today–a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned–that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning. It is as though we had taught a child, mechanically and by rule of thumb, to play “The Harmonious Blacksmith” upon the piano, but had never taught him the scale or how to read music; so that, having memorized “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” he still had not the faintest notion how to proceed from that to tackle “The Last Rose of Summer.” Why do I say, “as though”? In certain of the arts and crafts, we sometimes do precisely this–requiring a child to “express himself” in paint before we teach him how to handle the colors and the brush.

There is a school of thought which believes this to be the right way to set about the job. But observe: it is not the way in which a trained craftsman will go about to teach himself a new medium. He, having learned by experience the best way to economize labor and take the thing by the right end, will start off by doodling about on an odd piece of material, in order to “give himself the feel of the tool.” (Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning)

In the Wordsmithy

This weekend I had the mighty privilege of visiting New St. Andrews College, located in the heart of the very progressive university town of Moscow, Idaho. Here, Doug Wilson and his band of classical christian thinkers wage a worldview war of sorts, raising the next generation of faithful christians that seek to live out all of Christ in all of life. The annual Wordsmithy Workshop is designed to do this precise thing in the context of thinking christians who want to write more and write better. It was quite the intellectual and spiritual feast and it set my thoughts and inspirations ablaze in a number of new directions.

The theme of the conference was the writing life of C. S. Lewis. We had the great privilege of having Micheal Ward (perhaps the foremost Lewis scholar on the planet) lead us in a deeper peek into the mind and work of this great and historic thinker. The following is my attempt at sharing some of the gold nuggets I take away from my time at NSA.

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C. S. Lewis and I

This week I am headed down to Moscow Idaho for the Wordsmithy writer’s workshop at New St. Andrews College. One of the homework assignments was to reflect on the influence of C. S. Lewis on my life so far.

To my great regret my personal acquaintance with the actual writings of C.S. Lewis are limited. Until now I have had the illusion that I knew him well because I have been surrounded by quotes and conversations about him all the time, I was well versed in him myself. Nevertheless, I do feel that the limited exposure to him that I have had has had a very important place in my growth as a christian and a thinker.

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Everyone’s a Writer

One of the greatest convictions that has gripped me over the past couple of years is the power and priority of writing, not just for “writers” but for all of us regular folk. Historically speaking there are a thousand reasons to put your thoughts and convictions to pen and paper. I have mentioned these before. As I have given this issue more indepth thought in the past few weeks from a distinctly christian perspective its significance shines all the brighter.

We live in a digital age. What that means in a large sense is that we live in an age of mass information. Our ability to produce, communicate and store information grows exponentially, as does our exposure to it. We live in a world that is teaming with voices, words and ideas.

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Winston Churchill and the Power of the Written Word

People die and fade away. Even the personal memory of those who knew them fades. But there is one things that does not fade away: their words. What one writes down, continues to have resounding impact on the world many many years after the author has faded from the scene. Those who were most influential hundreds of years ago are still some of the most influential ones today through the things they have written. They continue to shape how people think and live, people they never would have met, people they never would have understood. This is the marvelous power of the written word.

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