Do Not Read This Book

When I read a great book the first thing I want to do is share it with someone who will appreciate it. Sometimes I even buy the book as a gift. Then I can enjoy watching the giftee stare blankly at me as they compute whether they are actually going to have to read the book. I don’t blame them; I do the same thing when presented with a book because the pile of books beside my bed threatens to kill me in my sleep and when someone tells me I must read another one, I rebel. If the book has been given to me by my mother I am in even bigger trouble. For the next 15 years she will ask me what I thought of the book. The 15 years after that she will sigh and say, “I gave you that book and you never read it.”

If you really want me to read a book then the best thing to do is mention it nonchalantly in a blog post with a link. Then I will feel compelled to click the link and buy the book and once bought, it may take me a while but I WILL read the book. I am terrified of being a book collector and not a book reader.

During the last 30 years I have read hundreds of volumes on education. Even though I am a home educator, I have not contained my reading to just books about home education. I guess it is my hobby. And like any good hobbyist I like to talk about it to people sitting next to me at parties. Thankfully, I don’t get out much.

Some of you are wondering why I am rambling on and some of you have guessed that I am going to recommend a book. It is a book with such a sadly unfortunate title that I feel I must drivel on before I get to it. The title of this book on education is The Bible and the Task of Teaching by David I. Smith and John Shortt. I have tried to analyze where exactly the title goes wrong-sending the collective conscience into a giant ho-hum sigh. I believe it is the word ‘task’ married to the word ‘Bible.’ Possibly the last time ‘task’ was used in a title was the Victorian era when books with such names as Rosamund’s Task by Miss Beyer or The Task of the Boy Wonder by Edmund Horatio, might have produced, if not readers, at least sales. But here from the word ‘Bible’ we immediately start imagining authors with bad haircuts and worse teeth: preachers, perhaps, who undoubtedly reduce the scripture to the sum of its parts.

It would not be a stretch if those trained in logic decided that if the authors could not get the title right we could hardly expect them to get the content right. But here, sir, your logic has failed you because, they do get it right. It is a book that restores the role of the Bible and Christianity in education to its deserved height.

The book came highly recommended to me by someone I trust and it still took me over two years to pick it up and read it. It is not a nuts and bolts book for those seeking to find a way to herd large groups (try a dog) nor does it contain scripted lesson plans. It is pure philosophy. Philosophy is where it’s at! Give a gifted teacher great philosophy and get out of the way.

Just like Norms and Nobility, it is a book that every single Christian educator should read and like Norms and Nobility it is out of print. Happily it is still quite affordable. If you are a serious Christian educator who loves reading then I confidently recommend The Bible and the Task of Teaching. I think it would be the perfect book to read as preparation for Circe’s summer venue-A Contemplation of Creation. So buy the book and read it because you may end up standing next to me at the conference and I promise you I will ask.

(If you want to know more about the book I have blogged about it extensively at my personal blog Ordo Amoris.)

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