Much mischief has been accomplished in educating children about symbols without first giving them a thorough and dynamic experience of the living idea to which the symbol points.
Children doing math who only think conventionally may well conclude that they aren’t “math people.” Children doing letters think conventionally (letters are conventions), but hardly realize that these letters represent the sounds of normal existence – sounds they’ve been making since they were very little. But they ought to realize that.
The sounds only become symbols later in life. First they are sounds. And sometimes they take on a distinct meaning in a child’s mind – they communicate an idea apart from the conventional use.
But the conventions are brilliant for a number of reasons: we can read with them. They multiply the number of sounds a child can master. They multiply our ability to think and communicate. They are undeniably powerful conventions. But they are conventions nonetheless.
Though language itself comes from God.