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Weekly Web Roundup: 9/27

For the weekend crowd, this is a sampling of what we’ve been reading this week.

  • Vice recently interviewed one of our favorite authors, Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead and Home and many other works:

“Are you ever afraid you won’t write again?
No. When I went to college, I had this idea in my mind that I was a writer, with incredibly little to document that belief. It’s always been important to my sense of myself. Of course, now that I have a certain number of books on the shelf, I can say that I am one. But there are lots of things that interest me. If I were to spend the rest of my life just reading or just thinking about what I have read, I would consider that a very satisfactory thing.”

“Comedy presents us with a story in which the threat of tragedy is averted. More often than not, the lifting of this threat comes not through the virtuous actions of the characters but by their very stumbling through enchanted, disconcerting forests into the absurd places their follies take them. Or, to put it another way, we are saved from absurdity by an even greater absurdity.”

  • Journalist Mark Oppenheimer asks us to stop forcing our kids to learn to place a musical instrument (this is worth a conversation)
  • Sophi Guteri, in Scientific American, questions whether teaching to a student’s “learning style” is a bogus idea?

“The idea that learning styles vary among students has taken off in recent years. Many teachers, parents and students are adamant that they learn best visually or by hearing a lesson or by reading, and so forth. And some educators have advocated teaching methods that take advantage of differences in the way students learn. But some psychologists take issue with the idea that learning style makes any significant difference in the classroom.”

  • In Salon ENRICO GNAULATI suggests that we’re dramatically over diagnosing autism:

“Highly intelligent boys who happen to be introverted by temperament are probably the subpopulation of kids who are most likely to be erroneously labeled autistic. In her provocatively titled Psychology Today article “Revenge of the Introvert,” Laurie Helgoe, a self-described card-carrying introvert, captures a key personality characteristic of introverts: “[They] like to think before responding—many prefer to think out what they want to say in advance—and seek facts before expressing opinions.” Introverted, highly intelligent boys may appear vacant and nonresponsive when asked a question like “What is your favorite animal?” Yet in their minds, they may be deeply and actively processing copious amounts of information on types and defining features of animals and zeroing in on precise words to use to articulate their complex thoughts. Thirty seconds, a minute, or even more time may pass before an answer is supplied. In the meantime, the listener might wonder if the boy is deaf or completely self-absorbed.”

“You all know what school is about; rigid schedules, homework, activities oriented toward group rather than individual needs, grades, tests, all the rest of the “standard” trappings that have murdered education for over 100 years. I’ve written a lot about the problems of such methods, all of them tied to the “critical” and “teacher-oriented” approach to education that owns our schools today. We won’t get much into that here. But as homeschoolers, you can turn each of these rotten tools on their head to make education actually responsive to your needs and those of your student.”

  • Kevin Gutzman presents the “duties of a free citizen” for ISI’s Intercollegiate Review:

“Let us begin to speak to our fellows as citizens to be respected, not consumers to be sold or constituents to be manipulated. In foreign policy, economic policy, and the culture, America faces very grave problems. With some of them, such as the momentous abortion epidemic, the elites deal by simply keeping us in the dark: no images ever appear on television. (Lots of gassed Syrians, but no aborted Americans.) In regard to others, such as the gigantic unfunded obligations, they simply ignore or deny what everyone knows. Sometimes, as in regard to what “marriage” means, they do whatever a mobilized constituency wants. Let us meet them with perfect candor.

Aristotle said that if we want to arrive at the truth, “First we call things by their right names.” There is nothing new under the sun.”

  • Leonie Caldecott considers the imaginative conservatism of Pope Francis:

“Our new Pope is precisely an imaginative, rather than a prescriptive, conservative. He has the conservative’s sensibility that each individual must make a free choice to adhere to what is best for all, and the conservative’s concern to apply only necessary medicines for the present crisis. One of those medicines is humility. When conservative forces face the humiliations and failure that has been meted out to them in recent years, it is perhaps necessary to reflect deeply on the roots of those problems, which may indeed require thinking, imaginatively, outside the box.”

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