SS #5: Balancing Work and Wonder (with Ravi Jain)

In this episode, Pam and Brandy have a great conversation with Ravi Jain, co-author of The Liberal Arts Tradition, on the subject of balancing work with wonder. How do both of those fit together? What happens when our students seem to have lost the wonder? What if we seem to have lost the wonder? Ravi had some great thoughts on this.

We also discussed piety in our Nitty Gritty Homeschool question. In The Liberal Arts Tradition, we’re told that piety is the foundation of learning. What are some practical ways to nurture and build it? We discuss all these questions and more in today’s episode!

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Work and Wonder Go Together

  • [2:50-10:08] Scholé Everyday segment
  • [10:20] Definition of wonder
  • [15:02] Are work and wonder opposites?
  • [21:48] Encouraging wonder when we lack it
  • [26:18] The ideal relationship between work and wonder
  • [32:37] Practical ideas for incorporating wonder
  • [34:43] Homeschooling is the best!

Today’s Hosts and Guest

Brandy Vencel loves homeschooling with Ambleside Online because of the wonder and virtue it naturally incorporates.

Pam Barnhill loves homeschooling classically yet eclectically because it allows her to follow paths of wonder and delight with her children.

Today’s Guest: Ravi Jain

Ravi Jain, one of the authors of The Liberal Arts Tradition is a Graduate of Davidson College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and University of Central Florida, His interests include physics, ancient Greek, and international political economy. He’s worked at various Churches, and began teaching calculus and physics at the Geneva school in Orlando Florida in 2003, and has done over fifty talks and workshops around the country. 

“The foundational distinction between traditional education and modern education is that the ancients believed that education was fundamentally about shaping loves.”

The Liberal Arts Tradition

Scholé Everyday: What We’re Reading

Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation
Leisure: The Basis of Culture
Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do
Why Don’t Students Like School?
John Milton: Classical Learning and the Progress of Virtue
Faith, Hope, Love

Raising Kids Who Read- Daniel Willingham

Pam is enjoying the way the author has practical suggestions for what parents can do, like that you don’t have to outsource teaching reading and the love of reading. 

John Milton: Classical Learning and the Progress of Virtue – Grant Horner

Brandy is loving how this book connects to some of her kids studies this year, and is excited to see how the author shows how Milton’s educational philosophy can be seen in all his works. 

Leisure: The Basis of Culture – Josef Peiper

Ravi is reading Leisure the Basis of Culture (one of our favorites) which is a good reminder that Christianity really makes freedom necessary. He’s also reading Faith, Hope, Love, by Peiper. 

What is Wonder?

Is it a feeling? An action? Aristotle and Plato before him closely linked wisdom and wonder. As the Liberal arts were being formally established in the 11th and 12th centuries, the life of the mind was really associated with freedom. If our eyes follow the desires of our hearts, our intellectual life is really driven by our wonder. Wonder is education of the heart and moral imagination.

Are Work and Wonder in Opposition?

Work and wonder are often set up as being opposed to each other, if a subject requires work it can’t also be bestowing wonder, if wonder is simply defined as delight. But if wonder actually is the education of the heart, then there is room for wonder to include work.

Wonder is tied to beauty, and desire, but what happens when our kids are delighted by the wrong things? Only embracing what naturally delights us or what we immediately find beautiful can lead us to ignore many of the truly lovely things God has created. 

Encouraging Wonder

Aside from outsourcing, and having your kids study some subjects from teachers who are really passionate about them, how can we pass on loves we don’t have?

Try introducing elements of play, like exploring things like tesselations and fractals for math. 

The Relationship Between Work and Wonder

In the ancient liberal arts tradition, mathematics was not only arithmetic and geometry, it also included astronomy and music. In those two subjects, math reveals the structure of reality, instead of just being math for math’s sake.

So many math curriculums are setting you up for things extrinsic to math, instead of being intrinsic to it. The ideal math curriculum shows math as a way of understanding reality, not just problem solving. 

How Homeschoolers are Uniquely Equipped

Because homeschoolers are more nimble, it’s easier for us to adapt and change than an entire school, Ravi sees a lot of the progress toward more wonder filled education in homeschooling. 

Mentioned in the Episode

The Abolition of Man

Want to talk about the ideas presented here? The conversation is happening inside Sistership.

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