No matter the ability — whether it’s intelligence, creativity, self-control, charm, or athleticism — studies show them to be profoundly malleable. When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort, and persistence matter a lot. So if you were a bright kid, it’s time to toss out your (mistaken) belief about how ability works, embrace the fact that you can always improve, and reclaim the confidence to tackle any challenge that you lost so long ago.
The Condition of Western Civilization: A Conversation with Harvey Mansfield
In his podcast, Thinking In Public, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government at Harvard, discuss the state of secondary and higher education in the nation while also tackling the feasibility of the liberal work towards a utopia. Is the liberal utopia compatible with human nature? This, among other things, is what Dr. Mohler and Professor Mansfield discuss and explore.
Just last week my students and I wrapped up our study of a story by Stephen Vincent Benet entitled “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” In this story, I found an opportunity to get students to consider some human questions; that is, questions that deal with things general to the human experience or…
I think it’s also important to remember that people were less likely to think of their thoughts and feelings because they were often incredibly irrelevant to society. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment that there became an emphasis on the individual. I’m not saying that people did not have their own thoughts, opinions, or feelings, but I don’t think that exploring the inner workings of the mind was as encouraged. The monarch, aristocracy, and the Church told people what they should think and feel. I could be wrong in this, but it’s just my initial reaction. It’s also important to think about the audience and the history of the author. Who was the story written for? How could the author’s life in historical context affect his/her style?
Also, couldnt it be that writers kept their personal thoughts and feelings in a diary or journal and felt that it was more appropriate to have a more detached voice in their “professional” writing?
This is very instructive and follows my general assumptions. I do want to locate the dangers of my vague generality of speaking on perhaps centuries of literature as “old” and lacking the inner-self. I am speaking strictly from the limited viewpoint of a freshman English teacher and the texts that the student body that I operate with encounters (which includes a limited smattering of texts from Homer to the modern short story). I am unqualified to pin down that transition in literary and social history when the inner-self started to pervade literature, but my point should still be relevant: educators today have a greater task today to help students make connections to the literature that precludes the inner-self while bringing in current literature that allows for the same literary rigor, but includes a personality that is relatable and “real.” Our students live in a reality in which they can gorge themselves on personality and the inner-self. Facebook status updates, Teen Mom, Real Life, reality programming offers condensed focus on the minutiae of inner turmoil. Students simply do not envision narrative in any other way.
This is why I think Shakespeare, if taught correctly, can be such a powerful experience for students. Shakespeare exists in both worlds: it is apart of the cannon traditionally taught and also includes the inner-self. In fact, according to Harold Bloom in his book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Shakespeare invents the inner-self or what he calls the personality.
Personality, in our sense, is a Shakespearean invention, and is not only Shakespeare’s greatest originality but also the authentic cause of his perpetual pervasiveness. Insofar as we ourselves value, and deplore, our own personalities, we are the heirs of Falstaff and Hamlet, and all of the other persons who throng Shakespeare’s theater of what might be called the colors of spirit.
Also, as Shelley phrased it, Shakespeare created “forms more real than living men.”
With this in mind, the trick remains to find a way to help the student to wade through the language of Shakespeare to get to the hyper-self of Shakespeare’s characters.
Rethinking Christianity and America’s Early History: A Conversation With Historian Thomas S. Kidd - Thinking In Public
In his podcast, Thinking In Public, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Historian Thomas Kidd discuss Kidd’s revision of revisionist history while locating the role of Christianity in early colonial America. Specifically, they discuss The Great Awakening (Was it actually a moment in time of great religious revival or a historical invention) and Patrick Henry (That guy who said “Give me liberty or give me death!”). It’s fascinating to listen to Kidd weave the narrative of the growth of Christianity in early America and apply the socio-political discussions of the time to our modern national discourse (the size and power of the federal government, separation of church and state, evangelism etc…).
In his podcast, Thinking In Public, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Steven Pinker, a humanist cognitive psychologist, discuss human nature, the brain, and whether humans are endowed with a soul or are simply a “blank slate.” It’s an interesting discussion.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is also “about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents.” As the researchers explained, “This is not a religion of repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of sovereign divinity, of steadfastly saying one’s prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering, of basking in God’s love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice, et cetera. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.”