Education is not a specialized subject. If you try to understand it by isolating it and studying it as a specialized activity, you will have guaranteed that you will never understand what you are studying.
Yet, to a large extent, teachers’ colleges and even educators conferences treat it as such a specialized subject. They seem to make a common modern error – that of thinking that reality itself is empirical or analytical. It is not. It is formal. Reality is not an experiment, it is a symphony.
Therefore, when we seek to know it, we seek an ever-expanding harmony, not a list of research based conclusions about discrete elements, and not a lab report on a series of experiments.
The experiments and the research are valuable sources of information about reality, and they can certainly fit within reality, but they are not the whole of realityand they are far from the most informative manner of perceiving reality.
That explains why we do the CiRCE conference the way we do. We don’t try to present leading experts in their field who have done “the research” and performed the experiments. We draw on speakers who have seen truth with their own eyes.
It ends up being a lot like a jazz performance, actually. If a better musician organized it, then it might be like a symphony. But my instincts are more like jazz, at least so far as I can understand something musical. We lay down a theme. We explore it together. Individuals go on their trails, and come back. A lot of improvisation takes place. There is no predertermined outcome.
But each year it seems something beautiful happens because we’re all committed to the same idea.
Based on most of the feedback, that is what happened again this year. We thought about liberty. We had an overarching theme and even a contra or anti-whattayacallit thing. A number of sub-themes arose: the need for mentors in a free society, the liberation of the teacher who uses a Christian classical pedagogy, the different types of freedom, the false freedoms that seduce us into slavery, modes of teaching that set students free, the need to think to be free, and so on.
A crescendo was reached, I felt, when, on Saturday morning George Sanker addressed on the elephant in the living room – the need for African-Americans and minorities to experience a Christian classical education as well as suburban whites. One more workshop and a coda brought the conference to an end.
These reflections are retrospective, probably because I’ve come to realize lately how reality is formal and not logical, scientific, or empirical. It is beautiful, and only human folly has brought ugliness into it.
Then let’s seek the wisdom to make something beautiful, harmonic, melodious, unified, flourishing, rhythmic, and ultimately integrated, healthy, and pleasing.
Next year we’ll sing a new theme: What is Man? A contemplation of Imago Dei. Will you sing with us?