Poetic Knowledge Book Club: Chapter 7, The Last Chapter – Simply Convivial

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For information and previous posts, see the page for this Poetic Knowledge Book Club

This week we are discussing Chapter 7, part 2: The Future of Poetic Knowledge, pages 178-the end.

This is the last week of reading, and next week I will get up one last book club linky for you to go on any last rabbit trails you might still have banging around in your head, waiting to get out through your fingers. I know I have one.


The books, while being good in themselves, are first of all to be enjoyed.

Never forget as you approach your books, that the first step, the beginning step, and the step that should be always taken no matter what the next step might be, is this: enjoy the books. Read the story. Read for pleasure. Edification will follow, but it will follow in a more lasting way if pleasure, enjoyment, love accompanies it. The books, the stories, give you and the students vicarious experience in life, which is their chief function above any language development or thinking skills.

Rather than grades, quizzes, and comprehension questions, think and assess in terms of conversation, dialog. Know your student, notice your student, and see where he is growing and where he needs to grow. Work from there. This is harder and more work for the teacher, but it removes much of the stress for the student. You have to have a relationship, a bond, a friendship, centered on the shared culture, shared experience, of living life and learning of life together, of growing to know and love the True, Good, and Beautiful together.

To have shared and loved the experience of the good, true, and beautiful, through some concrete or vicarious experience is to begin real friendship. […] When true friendship is practiced, we humbly participate in the bonum summum, the sum, the whole, of all good, philosophically speaking, and, from the point of view of religion, we share in the life of God Himself.

The mentor, the teacher, in this friendship, is the model of what he desires in his students, and as such he will have a poetic life of his own that he then shares with the students. So this is not something we orchestrate for the children, or that we require of or even give to the children, but something we do alongside them, something we do, then say, “Hey, come with me!”

As a side note, Taylor rather dismissively allowed that homeschools might follow this, but what we need are schools like this. The more I think about this chapter, the more I see how any institution, even a small school, is at a disadvantage to attempting such a feat, whereas homeschools, being in the natural and organic setting of the home and family relationships, lend themselves to such an approach, and so it happens sometimes even unintentionally and unknowingly in homeschools. It’s not automatic and it’s not easy, but it is more conducive, natural, and easier, I imagine.

Taylor ends with a call to action:

And now we need to take a deep breath to have a time out, and found a school even with just a few teachers and a few students, for a few years.

Yes. Let’s. 2 teachers, 2 – 4 – 7 students, 20-30-some years. Those students then begin to multiply themselves. Even after, maybe during, those 30-odd years, we can touch still others with such experiences and relationships, even outside parenting and even outside schools, as God leads and brings people in and out of our lives and homes or leads and gives opportunities and circumstances to foster relationships of all sorts.


Poetic and gymnastic education has as its end the cultivation of the senses, the imagination, and the will, not the elevation of the IQ.

Discussion Questions

For CM-types: How is Taylor’s description of learning all subjects through one book different from CM’s rant against a similar practice, her example being a “unit study” (how they are now known) on Robinson Crusoe? Is it different or do they here disagree?

For everyone: How do we nurture such friendships — based on shared experience — with our children? How do we, individually and personally? How does one, generally?

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