lost tools of learning

OGB Podcast #44- The Lost Tools of Learning



Scott and Karl discuss Dorthy Sayers’ paper, “The Lost Tools of Learning.” This groundbreaking work is a great deal important to our mission here at Online Great Books, and for anyone else who wants a redo on their education.

What did Sayers notice was lost back in 1947? Why does it matter that we have lost the tools of learning? In this episode, the guys talk about the all-encompassing ideas behind the Trivium, the downfalls of specialization, and the purpose of school.In school, you learn math and biology, but do you learn how to learn? For Sayers, the materials you use in order to teach how to learn doesn’t matter, only the process. “The sole true end of education,” says Sayers, “is to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.”

Tune In To Hear Their Discussion

Show Highlights

  • Introduction to the paper “the gateway drug for anybody who wants to redo your education” 
  • Dorthy Sayers’ background 
  • Discussion of why too much specialization is not a good thing 
  • Scott’s schooling experience 
  • Steel manning vs straw manning arguments 
  • “I don’t think we can get there from here” view of history 
  • The history of universities, the diploma from Augustine 
  • Socrates’ main concern with rhetoric 
  • The issue with problematicism
  • Different stages of development in a child 
  • Karl and Scott’s “big 5 dates” in history 
  • Difficulty with saying “I feel that” 
  • Scott and Karl talk Trivium 
  • Wrap up, Miss Sayers’ an OGB patron saint  

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned In The Podcast


Scott Hambrick: I’m Scott Hambrick.

Karl Schudt: I’m Karl Schudt.

Scott Hambrick: Today we’re going to talk about Dorothy Sayers’ paper “The Lost Tools of Learning.” It’s not really an essay that she wrote but it’s from a speech that she gave in Oxford in 1947, and she put her notes all together and polished them up and published them in 1948. We actually put this in our handbook in Online Great Books ‘cause we think it’s a big deal.

Karl Schudt: I think it’s a gateway drug.

Scott Hambrick: To what?

Karl Schudt: Well, for homeschoolers it’s a gateway drug for anybody who wants to redo your education, you realize, “wow, I really don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Scott Hambrick: It almost makes you want to give up, though. She’s so smart.

Karl Schudt: She’s an interesting person. This isn’t about her biography, you shouldn’t have to know everything about an author before you read something to judge whether it’s worthwhile. But she lived from 1983-1987, she was one of the first people to get a degree from Oxford (one of the first women to get a degree from Oxford, if that matters to you), she worked in advertising for a long time. There’s some famous ad campaigns, which she had a part in. She wrote detective stories. 

Scott Hambrick: We need to talk about the advertising a little bit. A lot of these Guinness reprint lithograph ads you see like the one with the Toucan and the working men who drink Guinness to be strong and do their work all day: she wrote many of those slogans. And worked with an artist to create those. A lot of those are her work.

Karl Schudt: The slogan “it pays to advertise,” is her. So, there’s bits of her work that have become part of her language. I don’t want to go into her life details, it’s a little bit tumultuous in her young life- you can read fictionalized versions of that in her detective novels. She was really smart, she was a believer in the Anglican Church, she was in the C.S. Lewis circle.

Scott Hambrick: Can you imagine playing cards with all those cats?

Karl Schudt: I’d just sit in the corner and listen. When I’m in a musical group, I always want to be the worst musician in the group because it makes you better. The worst thing is to be the best in the group.

Scott Hambrick: The smartest person I know would be the dumbest guy in that card game with Lewis and Sayers. She translated Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Karl Schudt: I have it.

Scott Hambrick: That’s a good one. Penguin just recently kicked that thing out again so there’s a fresh Dorothy Sayers “Dante.”

Karl Schudt: Even if you have a different “Dante” that you like, you should probably pick up hers for the very, very cool footnotes. All those names, all those people- the geography of Hell- if you want to know all that, is very well done in Sayers’s three volume set. I highly recommend it.

Scott Hambrick: I like it when awesome people do translations of these books like the Hobb’s Vicidity’s- so good, so cool.

Karl Schudt: I read the detective books every few years once I forget “who did it.”

Scott Hambrick: How many years does that take?

Karl Schudt: About three.

Scott Hambrick: So as you get older you can read them more and more often.

Karl Schudt: Right. But you read these things but the detective eventually- I don’t know I don’t want to spoil it- but eventually there’s two detectives. There’s Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They work together and there’s a romance and all that. But they talk to each other and they’ll switch languages: one minute it’s English and then it’s Italian and French and there’s literary allusions all over the place. This isn’t James Patterson: it’s some high-brow stuff. It’s good fun even if you don’t have Italian or French, you can make it through it.

Scott Hambrick: I have to point out, right now, that we do this on Zoom so Karl can see me and I can see him and then I record my end and he records his end and Brett Veinotte puts it all together and makes it sound good to you guys. Karl’s in his office and there are lots of books behind him and he’s wearing realtree camouflage hoodie and there’s a can of Coors on the desk behind him.

Karl Schudt: It’s from last night.

Scott Hambrick: Right.

Karl Schudt: I’m not very high-brow but they’re wonderful mysteries, they’re really good, they’re not easy to figure out. Some mysteries you can figure out pretty easily like there’s the beginning of one where Wimsy goes to Scotland on vacation and he’s hanging out in a painters colony, an artist colony, and Sayers’s gives a list of everything that’s on the painter’s tray. I think the painter gets killed, I can’t remember exactly, but the list of everything on the little cart.

Scott Hambrick: There’s a can of Coors.

Karl Schudt: There might be a can of Coors.

Scott Hambrick: Karl did “it.”

Karl Schudt: I think there was one thing missing which she doesn’t tell you what it was, and the one thing that’s missing is the clue to the whole mystery. But you need to know enough about painting to know what’s the one thing missing from the painters cart. It’s really good. There’s one about bell-ringers, there’s one set in an advertising agency. That one’s good- Wimsy goes to work in advertising, where of course, there’s murder.

Scott Hambrick: Right. Truth in advertising. She said, “truth in advertising is like yeast in bread- doesn’t take much.”

Karl Schudt: So this essay “Lost Tools of Learning,” from ‘47.

Scott Hambrick: She had already noticed there was some stuff lost by ‘47.

Karl Schudt: And I think, incidentally, this is a very good example of this sort of Aristolian writing Adler’s book on How to Speak, How to Listen, which explains how to make a speech pretty well I thought. There’s ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is “who am I why you should care,” and you introduce yourself. Pathos is why you should “why you trust me,” I mean that’s Ethos. Pathos is, “why you should care,” and then logos is “the argument. So if you look at this argument she starts off with who she is and so it disarms you and then she tells you why you child care- “why does it matter that we’ve lost tools of learning.” So she starts off that “I, whose experience of teaching is extremely limited and whose life in recent years has been almost totally out of touch with educational circles should presume to discuss education is a matter surely calls for no apology. So she says, “I’m not a teacher, I’m not a teacher at all and I’m still going to talk about it.”

Scott Hambrick: And I’m not going to apologize.

Karl Schudt: Right, and at the end of the paragraph, “for if we are not all professional teachers, we have at some time or other been taught.”

Scott Hambrick: Even if we learnt nothing.

Karl Schudt: So you have all been taught, so you can all (just like Sayers) have an opinion.

Scott Hambrick: And she says that about being taught, she says that “Too much specialization is not a good thing.” So she’s put her finger in the eye of the professional educators a little bit.

Karl Schudt: That’s going to be one of the themes of the essay is that we make a mistake by teaching subjects as if they’re isolated and by filling eight years of grade school, four years of high school, and four plus years of college with subject knowledge. Because subject knowledge- so you learn math or you learn biology, but you don’t learn how to learn.

Scott Hambrick: So the tools of learning are about learning how to learn but she wants your knowledge to not have edges, she wants it all to touch.

Karl Schudt: You don’t do that?

Scott Hambrick: Yeah I do.

Karl Schudt: Is there a demilitarized zone between the beans and the ham?

Scott Hambrick: Oh no, my food touches, I don’t mix it up but they definitely touch. 

Karl Schudt: Dining with Hambrick. Let’s see, let’s see, there’s some subtle burns here: I can’t say this, Worsham made a meme about saying “dear listener.” But I’m going to say it anyway, “If you, dear listener, work in education, don’t take it too seriously or do take it seriously or take it as seriously as it merits but don’t’ take it like being mean. If it’s true, worry about it, but I’m not trying to insult you here. So Sayers talks about what the teachers actually do.

Scott Hambrick: She’s actually very sympathetic to them. She doesn’t like it for them.

Karl Schudt: The teaching of the liberal arts sadly interferes with what every thoughtful mind will allow to be their proper duties such as distributing milk, supervising meals, taking cloak-room duty, weighing and measuring people, keeping their eyes open for incipient mumps, measles, and chicken pox, making out lists, escorting parties around the Victoria and Albert Museum, filling out forms, interviewing parents and devising end of term reports which shall devise a detailed report of truth with the tenderest respect for all those concerned. That’s a marvelous catalogue. I taught for a year in a high school, a private high school, and I still had to do all that stuff.

Scott Hambrick: Did you have to measure the kids?

Karl Schudt: I didn’t have to measure the kids but there was always a stack of papers, a stack of announcements, a whole bunch of mandated things that I had to do.

Scott Hambrick: School is a thing like there’s a venn diagram of school, and of education, and the two circles don’t overlap 100%. They don’t hide each other, so school is its own creature and I sent my kids to the snotty prep school here in town before we pulled them out of that school and decided to homeschool them. What I have discovered is that private schools are excellent at being schools. Which is actually, maybe, contrary- I went to Catoosa High School in Catoosa, OK, which is a piece of shit. And I was free to pursue an education there more than my kids were in their snotty prep school because they were so busy being a school and testing and trying to prepare them for this one outcome which is getting a good SAT score. That the kids didn’t have time to do anything but to play that game. So the finer the school is nowadays the more they play that game and the more efficiently they play that game which I think is a detriment.

Karl Schudt: Yeah, so you have to think, one way to identify stuff is to figure out what the final cause of it is (that’s a little Aristotle for you). The “tell us,” what’s the purpose of a school? It might not be your child’s best interest. 

Scott Hambrick: Yeah.

Karl Schudt; It might be something different, it might be like getting funding, it might be allowing parents to have their kids out of the house for eight hours of the day, it might not be teaching them to learn so that they can become fully developed adults capable of leading their own lives. That might not be the goal.

Scott Hambrick: Gotto talks about excellent schools armoring the minds of the parents and the children against authentic needs-based education. When I say needs-based, “I need to learn this because I think it’s important to me that has a big effect on my life, I have to go pursue it on my own.” This sort of boot-straps figure it out, learn it, take it for your own kind of thing, those excellent schools, they serve their final cause really well: get into another school with some maybe more scholarships than some other people get and they do it to the detriment of the other thing and because they are successful in giving the kids that final cause those kids are then steeled to anything else. I was really worried about that and I yanked my kids out.

Karl Schudt: I think that places generally do what they’re aiming to do. They just might not be aiming to do what you think they are aiming to do.

Scott Hambrick: Catoosa High School aimed to warehouse redneck children until they could convict them as adults if they screwed up. That’s what they did and they were really good at that. As soon as you can be tried…

Karl Schudt: She’s gonna propose to go back to a medieval way of teaching which right away- medieval, middle ages, isn’t that the horrible time of plague and well it’s also the birth-place of the university.

Scott Hambrick: It’s the birth-place of the university, and I have come to believe, and I’ll change my mind because I’ll change my mind about everything, but I’ve come to see the Enlightenment as the product of the medieval. It didn’t just sprout out of the ground after a mushroom after the rain. 

Karl Schudt: Etienne Gilson, it’s a fun name to say, it’s about as French as I get. He’s a French philosopher who became a big scholar on Thomas Aquinas but he started with Descartes and what he found was that- I think his dissertation was finding all the scholastic influence in Descartes. Descartes presents himself as “I’m doing a new thing that nobody has ever done,” but he sneaks all sorts of Aristotle in there and that made Gilson go back further and end up with brother Thomas. The thing is if you read medieval stuff, if you read medieval philosophy or theology it is very well argued. I’ve read some Duns Scotus. Duns Scotus is worse than Thomas on this- Thomas Aquinas will have a bunch of objections and replies.

Scott Hambrick: Wait a minute- worse or better? 

Karl Schudt: Better.

Scott Hambrick: Yeah!

Karl Schudt: But he left thirty-five objections to his position.

Scott Hambrick: Daniel Dennett calls that “steel manning” like it’s new.

Karl Schudt: What’s his definition of “steel manning?”

Scott Hambrick: When you state the case of the opposition in such a way that they would say “I wish I had said it like that.” It’s the opposite of a straw man.

Karl Schudt: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that’s the way we did arguments? So we wouldn’t say, “so you’re saying.” 

Scott Hambrick: That’s what the scholastics in the medieval school of writing and thinking was about.

Karl Schudt: If you look at Thomas Aquinas’s proof for the existence of God and you just look at the objections at the beginning, you will be convinced that there is no God.

Scott Hambrick: I know. He gives me whiplash everytime I read him, “Yeah, that’s right,” or “No, that’s wrong.” Every single time.

Karl Schudt: Even if you don’t follow him to his ultimate conclusions you’ll be a lot smarter about everything. What do all the smart people say on it? What’s the best argument you can make for an opposing position and that’s what the liberal arts do. That’s what you do in grammar and logic and rhetoric when you’re learning a subject. They knew how to do it.

Scott Hambrick: He’s a way better atheist than Sam Harris or any of those guys. She talks about education and she says, “If we are produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their educational freedom among the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundrend years to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the middle ages.” That’s a big claim.

Karl Schudt: That’s a big claim and now she’s got to back it up because obviously we never go backward. Only reactionary go backwards- only people who believe in unicorns go backward.

Scott Hambrick: Nobody ever had anything right in the past.

Karl Schudt: We’re at the pinnacle of history. If you’ve gone the wrong way- if you’ve ever been driving and you’ve taken a wrong turn (I believe I did this in Missouri this past summer) and you go far enough the only way to go forward is to go back. If you’ve gone the wrong direction, you’ve got to go backwards to go forwards.

Scott Hambrick: My wife’s grandad used to say, “I don’t think we can get there from here.” Again, since Hambrick (I’m not the only person, this isn’t original, there’s nothing original that I can get at) thinks that the Enlightenment is actually the product of that medieval thought, and if you like what you get from the Enlightenment, it’s a big old if but if you like what you get from that and you want to restore that you can’t just go to that you gotta go to the precursors you gotta lay that foundation. So she makes an argument for re-laying the foundation. Because she wants to preserve the Enlightenment, intellectual freedom. She says it right there she, “wants to preserve intellectual freedom.” 

Karl Schudt: Okay Dorothy,  I wonder if they called her “Dot.” 

Scott Hambrick: Let’s.

Karl Schudt: I wonder if she had a nickname. So she lays out reasons why you might want to do it, this is her big claim, (we’ve got to go back to medieval) but before she tells you what medieval education was like she says, “why you might be uncomfortable with the way things are today.” The first thing she mentions is, “the artificial prolongation of intellectual childhood and adolescence.”

Scott Hambrick: I underlined it. She says it’s “prolonged into the years of physical maturity.” It’s so weird. I think everybody that’s over thirty-eight years old is baffled by how long it takes people to start adulting.

Karl Schudt: I hate that word.

Scott Hambrick: I hate that word too. It pisses me off.

Karl Schudt: You hate “problematic” I hate “adulting.”

Scott Hambrick: I hate “adulting” too actually.

Karl Schudt: I had a young friend, we’re still connected on social media, so if he listens to this “Hello David,” but I had him as a student but he would post things on Facebook about the spider in his apartment and how he now he has to move because he can’t kill the spider. He’s a twenty-six year old young man and I’m thinking- there’s two things- first, kill the spider. And second, if you’re afraid to kill the spider, don’t post about it on social media and say you’re having difficulty adulting. Get the vacuum and suck it up if you don’t want to smash it, I don’t know, find a way to do it. But he’s been in school his whole life and he’s always had somebody else kill the spider for him.

Scott Hambrick: Back to my wife’s grandad. I think he went to school through eight grade- he would be ninety-five years old now, he passed away some years ago- I think he’d be ninety-five, maybe ninety-two, and he went to school through the eight grade. He dropped out, dropped out, see (they say shit like that) before Sayers’ speaking here, before WWII and-smart guy- had an extraordinary memory, read a lot, he was in the manual arts: he made plastic body interior panels for American Airlines. They would bring him a body panel- an interior molded plastic panel and they had no molds for the left side and they would say, “we need a mirror image of this,” and he had no tooling, no measured drawings and he would crank out a hand-made mirror image. The guy had geometry he had spatial reasoning, he could read, he was a technician, he knew things he was valuable and he got all that he needed by the time that he was in the eight grade. His “intellectual childhood in adolescence” was not “prolonged.” 

Karl Schudt: Right. We’re starting to think that college is a right that everybody has to go to college or somehow they’re not adults.

Scott Hambrick: I think people abrogated the responsibility to help their children transition into independence and adulthood to the university rather than help them bridge that gap from the home of origin to their own household. The kids graduate from high school and these parents are just done. Send them to college, like it has training wheels on it but it doesn’t. You’re just throwing out an airplane without a parachute but the next reason she says that we need to return to the educational ways of old is that, “people have become susceptible to the ways of advertisement and mass propaganda hitherto unheard of and unimagined.” She believes that educating them properly would steel them against these things.

Karl Schudt: So this is 1947 and this is Europe.

Scott Hambrick: And she’s in the advertising business.

Karl Schudt: Yeah, people are susceptible if something trends on twitter, people somehow think it’s important. The thing I found out- I have been cutting myself off from a lot of stuff, I haven’t watched a football game in four or five years. I used to watch a whole lot of sports and I haven’t flipped on the television to over the air in a long, long time. Once you’re out of that constant bombardment of advertisement and propaganda, there’s a lot more room to think and realize just how much of the things that I thought were important were because I saw somebody worried about it. How little any of that matters in real life you can find out once you’re detached from it. People are susceptible to words.

Scott Hambrick: We just had a friend ask the two of us, Karl, in a podcast a couple weeks ago that the internet wasn’t real and he said, “Scott, Karl, what do you mean by that?” Karl said. “The internet is the flickering shadows on the cave wall.” I said, “When something happens on the internet, nothing really happens.” I still stand by that.

Karl Schudt: It’s real for a certain value of real. It’s kind of real but most of what you see is manufactured, it’s put there for you if you use popular search engines for example , the search results are designed. They’re not random, they’re designed. I would say that the internet used to be more real, back in say ‘92 or ‘93.

Scott Hambrick: It has become television as we speak to you, dear listener, over the internet. It has become television and even at Online Great Books where we ostensibly use the internet to run the business- a hundred years ago, not a hundred years ago (let me not be flippant) thirty-five years ago you would have torn a card out of a magazine for Online Great Books and filled that and mailed it in. We would have put you in touch with somebody in your area running a group and would have mailed your stuff to you. It just does that.

Karl Schudt: I think a way that we’re a little more real is we’re mostly just taking Adler’s list. We’re not picking a list of books that are trending so, we’re insulated a little but from the mass propaganda because we’re not following it. We’re not reading Aristotle because he trended on twitter.

Scott Hambrick: Wouldn’t that be cool?

Karl Schudt: We could make it happen- hashtag Aristotle- but then I’d have to go on twitter.

Scott Hambrick: Yeah, it’s not worth it, I like to pretend that twitter doesn’t exist. Her next point is that if you ever listened to a debate of an adult and presumably responsible people you just hear how awful these debates are. She also says, “Have you ever pondered upon the extremely high incidents of relevant matter which crops up at a committee meeting.” Meetings are terrible and she thinks that people’s inability to speak to the issue, to speak concisely, and to stay on task  when speaking, is the fault of education. I’m going to say, “yes, and,” to Dottie. In Oklahoma she wouldn’t be Dot she would be Dottie.

Karl Schudt: Would she have a middle name?

Scott Hambrick: Yes, she would, she would be “Dottie May.” There’s also an IQ thing too but that’s alright.

Karl Schudt: I’ve been to meetings. I was in academia for a long time and there were meetings that were always ten times longer than they had to be.

Scott Hambrick: Her middle name’s “Lee”. “Dottie Lee.”

Karl Schudt: Oh, she was from OK.

Scott Hambrick: She might be my aunt.

Karl Schudt: I’m very fond of her, I’m going to think of her as Dottie Lee from now on- she’s one of my friends.

Scott Hambrick: I had an aunt named “Bula,” and then her cousin was “Eula.” there you go- some old names. I had a great uncle whose name was spelled O-M-E-G-A, his middle name- Audi O-M-E-G-A and they pronounced it Omeeja. I asked my grandmother one time “what does that mean?” I hadn’t seen it spelled so I said “what does that mean?” She says, “Well it’s out of the Bible.” 

Karl Schudt: It is.

Scott Hambrick: But these are people that read by themselves. 

Karl Schudt: right. Omeeja.

Scott Hambrick: They didn’t know.

Karl Schudt: Have you ever seen “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?”

Scott Hambrick: 1,000 years ago.

Karl Schudt: And the brothers are all named out of the Bible so it’s: Adam, Benjamen, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, and then Gideon (I think). Frank- what’s Frank short for? Frankincense.

Scott Hambrick: Awesome. They should have had more kids so they could have got to “Meeshack,” “Shagrack.”

Karl Schudt: “Sharubarel.” We’re getting distracted but that’s alright. So the inability to speak- if you’ve ever been to a meeting, if you’ve never had the joy of serving on committees and being in meetings, just flip on a talking head show for a few minutes and see if the talking head actually responds to the thing that the talking head said. Or if they even notice that they haven’t. 

Scott Hambrick: They’re there to say something very quickly.

Karl Schudt: Think of the Tellus, they’re accomplishing the goal that they have pretty well but it’s not a debate and I don’t think they’d know if they didn’t. She has other complaints, “writers fail to define the terms they use.” If you listen to it you think, “they’re using freedom in different ways. They don’t mean by that ‘word’ by what I mean by that word.”

Scott Hambrick: Clearly. They don’t define their terms. She says, “their syntax is terrible,” so you can listen to what they say or read what they say and still not know what the heck it means.

Karl Schudt: This is a big one- I’ve actually numbered this, this is my number six, “Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget most of what they have learnt but forget also or betray that they have never really known how to tackle a new subject for themselves.” I think this is all you should need if you have a reasonable level of intelligence- you need to have grade school and a library card.

Scott Hambrick: How far does grade school go?

Karl Schudt: For us, it’s eight.

Scott Hambrick: You heard it here first, guys, Karl says…I don’t disagree with that as long as you’ve got helpful parents, I think we’re good to go with that.

Karl Schudt: If you actually accomplished what she’s got planned here, if you have learned how to learn then you can be done and you can spend the time studying subject matter and then you would follow subject matter that interests you. I have sat in so many classrooms full of people that didn’t want to be there, that I can’t blame them.

Scott Hambrick: They weren’t there to learn that, so they would “check” that box, so they could get that paper, so they could get that job…

Karl Schudt: The diploma, by the way, this is my version of medieval history. Universitas means Guild, it does not mean university. It’s a guild– I’m paraphrasing history here, so, if you go back and read Augustine, he talks about being a teacher of rhetoric and the problem is his students would take his class up until the time tuition was due and then they’d drop. They’d go take somebody else’s class. In the middle ages they came up with an invention called the “diploma” issued by the bishop. The guild got together, the teachers banded together and you could only get the diploma-what would cause you not to get a diploma you’ve earned? You didn’t pay your bill. You have library fines or something, you show up on graduation and they don’t hand you the diploma because you didn’t send the check in. That’s what a diploma is, it’s a device to insure payment to the guild. It’s not a certification that you’re smart, it’s a certification that your bills are paid.

Scott Hambrick: Right, it’s a receipt.

Karl Schudt: Exactly. I have a few of them around here somewhere. I think that’s really important, that’s what we want, we want to be able to tackle a new subject, we want to know how to do it and if the education isn’t doing it I don’t know what the point of it is. For me, number seven- “Do you often come across people for whom all their life a subject remains a subject divided by water-tight bulkheads from all other subjects, so that they experience very great difficulty in making an immediate mental connection between say; algebra and detective fiction, sewage disposal and the price of salmon, etc.” I can’t talk about that, I don’t know anything about that. We have the cult of the expert, we bring in the expert to talk about something and you can’t talk about it because you’re not an expert.

Scott Hambrick: This is one of those hobby horses. I went on this other podcast with this other guy so I have these headphones on and I have this microphone.

Karl Schudt: How would I imitate Matt?

Scott Hambrick: Step on my jokes.

Karl Schudt: We love you Matt Reynolds.

Scott Hambrick: When you have experts, when the only people that act in an arena are specialists in that arena, you end up with incremental improvements in the arena. But when you bring people to bear on a problem that is outside of their area of expertise, you have the guy come to the problem about “sewage disposal and the price of salmon,” and he studied algebra that’s when you get really interesting and novel solutions to problems that could not have been gotten at by the specialists. They don’t have knowledge of anything outside of the problem and if you want quantum leaps in knowledge formation or problem solving or whatever, you’ve got to bust the silos down and you’ve got to bring in weird people and bring in weird solutions, with weird toolsets in their minds. We do less and less and less of that. Henry Ford said that if he had listened to the consumer he would have just gotten faster horses. You have to bring a weird mind to a transportation problem to get a model-T or otherwise you just keep polishing the horses.

Karl Schudt: Right, I think, if I may get metaphysical for a moment.

Scott Hambrick: I love it when you do that, slow down.

Karl Schudt: I think the higher you get, it’s all one subject.

Scott Hambrick: What is that subject? Metaphysics?

Karl Schudt: First philosophy. It’s all aspects of one thing so sewage and salmon prices- they’re all part of one huge body of knowledge.

Scott Hambrick: the “Karolingian-Monad.” The one thing.

Karl Schudt: Parmenides were right: I’m going to put up posters that say that. Parmenides was right about being, I’m just going to make little bumper stickers and put them everywhere.

Scott Hambrick: Knowledge silos, subject silos lead to scaffold solution, creation and our big problem, and she sees this medieval learning system (we’re going to shine light on that, here in a minute) but she sees a way to break down the silos and we can see when we learn how to educate people by the Trivium. By and by you end up with a Newton, you end up with a Galileo,you end up with the things that we got. Those things just didn’t come up out of the dirt, they were products of what came before them and that’s what she wants to go back to.

Karl Schudt: The scientists in the great bit scientist revolution, these were all people that were not specialists, they were mostly gentlemen who had the money and the time to go and poke around in experimental science. If they had thought, “Well I’m a gentleman, this is not my area, I need an expert,” you wouldn’t have laws of thermo-dynamics. Well, you’d still have them but you wouldn’t know them. How many more of these complaints do you want to do? I like the one- she talks about the level of discourse and the level of literature and she’s quoting from the newspaper, “Miss Basel has a perfect command of English. ‘Oh gosh’, she said at once in a marked enthusiasm for London.” So the newspaper’s example of a perfect command of English was “oh gosh.”

Scott Hambrick: I can imagine that Miss Dottie, here, had a whole clippings file full of crap that she clipped out of the London paper and everything.

Karl Schudt: She makes a good point about when people make fun of the middle ages, they will bring up an example of the angels on the head of the pin as the stereotypical thing that medieval philosophers would worry about and she makes the point that it is actually a really good exercise. 

Scott Hambrick: Yeah, “let’s state the question.” That’s one of people’s gripe about Thomas- he spends a bunch of time talking about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I think she says the point of a pen but oh, no, no, you missed the point.

Karl Schudt: It’s not about the pin. It’s about understanding terms. What does it mean to be somewhere? So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Well you have to figure out- it doesn’t even matter if they’re angels. It matters, what does it mean to be there? How can an angel be in a place? Does an angel have a body? So you think about the connection between body and place. Or if you’re an intellectual being can you be there by thinking about it? How many people can think about the head of a pin?

Scott Hambrick: Can I read about this?

Karl Schudt: Yes, please.

Scott Hambrick:  I actually wrote that we needed to read this aloud. She says, “Now people consider it to be a matter of faith to know how many archangels would dance on the head of a needle. It was never a matter of faith but it was simply a debating exercise whose said subject was the nature of angelic substance. Were angels material and if so, do they occupy space? The answer usually a judge correct is, I believe, that angels are pure intelligences not material but limited so that they may have location in space but not extension. An analogy might be drawn on from human thought which is similarly non-material and similarly limited thus if you’re thought is concentrated on one thing, say the point of a needle, is located there in the sense that it is not elsewhere but although it is there, it occupies no space there. There is nothing to prevent an infinite number of different people thought to be concentrated on the same needle point at the same time.”

Karl Schudt: Right, and then a little bit further down, “the practical lesson to be drawn from the argument is not to use words like “there” in a loose and unscientific way without specifying whether you mean ‘located there’ or ‘occupying space there’,” In other words “come to terms” like Adler would say.

Scott Hambrick: I gotta keep reading her, “scorn in plenty has been poured out upon the medieval passion for hair splitting but when we look at the shameless abuse made in print, on the platform of controversial expressions was shifting in ambiguous connotations we may feel it in our hearts to wish that every reader and hearer had been so defensively armoured by his education to be able to cry ‘distinguo.’” To distinguish.

Karl Schudt: It’s Latin for “I make a distinction.” It’s like saying “it depends,” but then having a very clear way in which it depends. “Should I assume no deadlift?” It depends. Then you make distinctions, “what are we talking about?” “What are we trying to train?” “What are we developing?” It depends. All of that stuff and where people go wrong is they don’t see the distinction- very common for people not to see the distinction, and that’s when they say, “Scott, so what you’re saying is….” No, that’s not what I’m saying and you should read more carefully and be capable of reading more carefully and be capable and understand what I’m actually saying. 

Scott Hambrick: It makes me angry just thinking about it. She thinks, and I agree with her, she thinks that reading, writing, and even the use of spoken word is all technological and that you must receive training in using the technology. You wouldn’t just put somebody on a backhoe and not expect them to tear something up. Language requires training to use properly and deftly. 

Karl Schudt: And I want to add more. It is also- words are weapons.

Scott Hambrick: Do you remember that stupid PSA- “words are like fists.” Do you remember that? 

Karl Schudt: Yeah, they aren’t really like fists- they’re not. 

Scott Hambrick: They’re not. Only somebody that’s never been punched in the face would say that “words were like fists.”

Karl Schudt: They’re not physical violence, that’s not what I’m saying. Distinguo- I wish to make a distinction. They are weapons in the mental and spiritual realm. They can have an effect and if you are not prepared to defend yourself, you’re going to be in trouble.

Scott Hambrick: We would Socrates the shit out of that. Like how do they act in this mental realm, how do they act there what are their effects? I don’t disagree with you at all but there’s a lot to unpack in what you just said.

Karl Schudt: I think it’s probably Socrates’ main concern in the effects of rhetoric. Who can teach virtue? There are people that would sell their rhetorical skill so that you could convince people that you could teach virtue but you couldn’t actually. You can do a whole lot with words. I remember about thirty years ago I read Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, he made this point, writing back then, that everybody’s got headphones on now. We have much more words, and music, and media, and now it’s even worse going into our minds all the time. How many images did you see per day in Catoosa in the 1980s (whenever it was when you were in highschool? 

Scott Hambrick: Not many.

Karl Schudt: You’d walk to school, you’d walk home, you wouldn’t have a constant- but if you did it now, you’d have your headphones on and you’d be listening to something.

Scott Hambrick: The “walkman” era showed up about mid-way through my school career but they were expensive and not very many people had one. We played cards on the bus, we were on the stupid bus for an hour and a half one way. We’d play cards on the bus, have a little folding, magnetic chess set, sing songs, fight. 

Karl Schudt: Sounds wonderful to me, better than letting the social media giants tell you what you oughta think about stuff.

Scott Hambrick: I learned so many dirty jokes on the bus. I’ve got daughters and I always worried about the school bus because it was “lord of the flies” on there.

Karl Schudt; It’s unsupervised. Things happen below the top level of the seat. 

Scott Hambrick: I’ve heard that’s true. 

Karl Schudt: Be very careful. We have more words than ever, we have many more words going into our brain cases than Socrates probably ever did, all the time, everyday. If you don’t realize that words are weapons or weapons-ish you are at their mercy. Maybe everybody doesn’t have to take formal logic but they probably need to go through the informal fallacies just so that you can know the easiest tricks to manipulate you, and be aware of them because they’re used all the time. They’re used all the time and if you don’t know them (if you don’t know logic at all) you’re an easy mark. 

Scott Hambrick: Equivocation is the one I see the most. People talk about straw man and appeal to authority and all these fallacies and stuff but the one that kind of goes unrecognized the most (I think) is equivocation. All of the Gammas that argued with me about problematicism, they wanted to make an argument that, “no, it’s a valid word, it’s in the dictionary, and people have used it for four hundred years.” I’m talking about the concept which is a poisonous, disgusting, broken, metaphysically evil concept. I wasn’t talking about the words in the dictionary and whether people used the damn thing or not but they equivocate and I can’t get them off their equivocation because they don’t have enough sense or training or something to get off of it so we can’t even talk about how to talk. Because I can’t get them to come off of that. People need to know their fallacies so, she makes all these arguments about why education has failed and the flip-side of that coin is how we might fix it.

Karl Schudt: How we might fix it. So at this point (if you’re reading, you should have been worried. If you don’t know (she makes a point which I can’t find at the moment) if you don’t know logic, if you don’t know the Trivium then you are going to react emotionally to everything and perhaps this is by design.

Scott Hambrick: She knew better than anybody, she’s in advertising. The other people who knew this better than her, killed at Nuremberg. She’s super worried about the future, by the way you should read this (we should say this at the beginning at every show “stop right now and go find it.” It’s all over the internet “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers and about two thirds the way through she talks about how to fix it and she sets a bunch of preconditions. She says, “Let’s make a clean sweep of all the educational authorities, let’s furnish ourselves with a nice little school of boys and girls who we may experimentally equip for the intellectual conflict along lines chosen by ourselves.” Okay sounds good- we’re going to get rid of all the other schools and we’re going to run our own little school here. And then she says, “one-” I actually say “one-” “we will endow them with exceptionally docile parents.” Does she say that, Karl, because she doesn’t want them to fight her about how they’re going to be schooled? Or does she think that that leads to a particular educable kind of child?

Karl Schudt: I think she wants parents who will trust her.

Scott Hambrick: Okay. “We will staff our school with teachers who are themselves perfectly familiar with the aims and methods of the Trivium. The Trivium or the classical arts grammar and logic and rhetoric” (and we’ll talk about that some more). “We will have our buildings and our staff large enough to allow our classes to be small enough for adequate handling and we will postulate a board of examiners willing and qualified to test the products we turn out. Thus prepared we will attempt to sketch out a syllabus, a modern Trivium with modifications and we will see what we get to.” How old will they be?

Karl Schudt: “Catch em young.”

Scott Hambrick: That’s what she says, those are her words,”catch ‘em young.” 

Karl Schudt: Well I like the way she describes it, that she says, it’s funny, it’s a funny essay.

Scott Hambrick: She’s charming. 

Karl Schudt: I’m the only child I know, and I remember what I was like and so she describes three states in her life- the Poll-Parrot, the Pert, and the Poetic, and she uses alliteration because she worked in advertising and she knows how to do these things. Pull parrot stage is where you can learn by heart pretty easily and it’s not a chore.

Scott Hambrick: You’re a great mimic like the parrot.

Karl Schudt: Yeah, and you could sit and do multiplication tables and it’s not drudgery to you.

Scott Hambrick: When you learned multiplication tables did they play that record for you? 

Karl Schudt: Oh its so long in the midst of time.

Scott Hambrick: So in Catoosa, K2C, they put an album on for the 3s- and it’s this little song and this lady “1 x 3 is…, 2 x 3 is…” and you would just sing along with it and we would do that and we were fine with it. 

Karl Schudt: We do Shurley English with our kids and there’s all kinds of jingles that they have to do. Verbs show action.

Scott Hambrick: M as are was, do does did, has have had, sometimes should- shall, would, and should?

Karl Schudt: It’s fine, that’s the age to do it. When you’re forty-eight trying to do that- maybe that’s why it’s hard to learn languages when you’re older- you just can’t bear to do the drill anymore. So that’s a time to learn stuff that needs memorization. The Pert age is when you’re a little snot, when you start contradicting people. She lays it sits about in the lower fourth, I’m not sure what age that’s about, I can’t translate English ages. You gotta start teaching them logic. And then the Poetic age in which she says is the “difficult age that rather specializes in being misunderstood.” Both you and I have teenage daughters, I think we have some in the Poetic- well I know I have some in the Poetic age, “You just don’t understand.” And life becomes very dramatic, so that would be a time to go to rhetoric. It maps pretty well, so we have Pull Parrot for grammar. That’s a time to learn how the language works dialectic to logic to the Pert. She’s already a pain in the ass you might as well teach her logic and then rhetoric.

Scott Hambrick: They love to argue.

Karl Schudt: might as well teach them how. And then rhetoric to when they start becoming more moody, I guess, I wonder if this works for boys? Do boys ever get to the Poetic age?

Scott Hambrick: Yeah, I think so, I think the Poetic age for boys is when they start wanting to homestead, they want to differentiate they want to self-actualize their attempts at being understood. And their attempts at expression look different than they do for the female but they are real nonetheless.

Karl Schudt: Then she’s got recommendations. Grammar means what it sounds like, you need to actually study the structure of language and sadly, the way we teach English now (and probably the way we teach Spanish) doesn’t do this very much, it’s mostly just talk at them ‘til they talk at you. So she does recommend Latin. I think that’s a good recommendation too. I studied Latin in high school for four years, and I still read it a little bit. I think studying Latin and forgetting it will do you much more good than studying Spanish and never using it. It’s a good language to forget having learned. Does that make sense?

Scott Hambrick: Sure. She says, and I wanted to ask you this, I wrote this down to ask Karl- well, you taught Latin right? You taught at the university, right? You’ve got some Latin, you don’t suck at that. I’ll just let that hang there. She says, “Even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning any other subject by at least fifty percent.” Is that so? 

Karl Schudt: Any other subject? Well, certainly any other language. Which page is that on?

Scott Hambrick: Forty-two. He’s referring to page forty-two of the Online Great Books handbook.

Karl Schudt: Yes, which you can get, I believe, if you sign up for the waiting list.

Scott Hambrick: No,

Karl Schudt: You have to actually sign up to get this.

Scott Hambrick: Yeah this has kind of got some of the secret sauce in it, it has her whole reading list and I held it hostage because I want you to do it with us.

Karl Schudt: You can’t learn it well unless you’re thinking in an orderly manner. It has cases. Cases are ways that a noun can relate to the rest of the sentence- we have three in English. Two that you can recognize by looking at them. We have the subjective and the objective case and we used to actually use them so- who and whom, I and me- that would be subject object. We also have indirect objects but it doesn’t have a different ending. 

Scott Hambrick: People that have had Latin always know when to use who and whom.

Karl Schudt: And you should too, dear listener. It drives me up a wall, and I know the world’s gone away from this we say “whom.”

Scott Hambrick: When?

Karl Schudt: At the right time. Well Latin has, depending on how you slice it, five or seven cases and they have different endings and it’s all the different ways that a noun can relate to other words. It forces you to think about that and it probably sets the stage for logic.

Scott Hambrick: My youngest daughter told me last night that if you would say “he” use who, if you use “him” use whom. I said, “Hey, that’s pretty good, girl.” I’ll file that away.

Karl Schudt: I think she’s probably right. If you study Latin grammar you’re goin to know a lot more about the way the world exists because you’re going to have to think about it. There’s a simple past tense which means “I did it.” Then there’s the, that would be the perfect, you did it and it’s done, and then there is the imperfect which is “I was doing this,” which means you did it but it might be continuing. My favorite is the future perfect.

Scott Hambrick: “I will have been doing it?”

Karl Schudt: Yeah, you will have been doing something in the future before something else in the future. I will have been coaching for ten years by next year. Something like that and by thinking about that you don’t get that by just doing “see and say” English in your local school. You don’t think about the relations of time and reality like you do struggling through Latin grammar. You don’t have to become an expert on it, you just need to spend a couple of years on it,  and get yourself thinking that way, and you’ll be better off.

Scott Hambrick: And she says, well she doesn’t say it explicitly like this, but she’s not so interested in reading the Roman, she said she wants to read the medieval Latin which was a living language down to the end of the Renaissance she says, “it is easier, and in some ways livelier both in syntax and rhythm and a study of it helps to spell the widespread notion that learning and literature came to a full stop when Christ was born and only woke up again in the dissolution of the monasteries. No Dark Ages for Dorothy Sayers.

Karl Schudt: Nope. Dark Ages is an invention of historians. They weren’t “dark.” There exists a biography of Geroge Washington written by some Ohio school teacher in the 1800s. Latin’s been alive for a long, long time, it’s still sort of alive. It’s a little bit alive.

Scott Hambrick: The high school teacher wrote a Latin George Washington biography. I’ll be damned.

Karl Schudt: You can find it on one of the big search engines.

Scott Hambrick: The language (for somebody that doesn’t have any Latin-this show’s going to be two episodes, I guess). Being somebody that doesn’t have any Latin, I do have the Oxford Latin dictionary, which claims to have all the Latin words in it, and it’s a big old book. It’s folio size and it’s nine hundred pages and it’s probably in 10 point font, there’s a lot of stuff in there. But I also have the Oxford English dictionary and- one- it’s twenty-six thousand pages or something like that. Latin’s a lot tighter and a lot more carefully defined and I think in some way it would be easier to speak in technical terms with a language that was inflicted like that with so many cases and fewer words. More words can lead to unnecessary nuance.

Karl Schudt: If the place where you go to worship is of a traditional kind, you might like Latin just because nothing changes in Latin. Things don’t drift. In English, things drift, words change meaning, but because Latin is mostly dead (not all the way dead) words do not change their meaning. Whatever Augustus wrote, you can read his last will and testament, but whatever Julius Caesar wrote, it means the same thing now as it did then.

Scott Hambrick: It’s the math of language.

Karl Schudt: Right. 

Scott Hambrick: I just came up with that.

Karl Schudt: Hambrickian.

Scott Hambrick: Yes, I like that. Gosh I like what I come up with, it’s so good. She says in the Poll-Parrot stage you should be digging into that and I like to think of grammar in terms of the Trivium as not just Latin or English grammar but also picking apart the bones of language. She wants kids in the Poll-Parrot stage, in the grammar stage to be learning the parts of everything. Dates in history, for example, little pieces of poetry and who wrote them. Science and she says science for the Poll-Parrot stage is about collecting- here are deciduous leaves, here are conifers, etc- because they can memorizing by rote so easily you can pack their brains with information that will eventually be organized in the logic phase and start to create a world for them.

Karl Schudt: I wish I had done that, I wish I had memorized all that stuff. I know an oak tree, I know a maple tree, I might be able to pull out a catulpa or a locust.

Scott Hambrick: Kingdom, phylum, order, class, genus, species.

Karl Schudt: I think I went to the Pert stage early and then I went to memorize all the things I should memorize.

Scott Hambrick: Four crooks broke in- that’s fluorine, chromium, bromine, and iodine- the halides.

Karl Schudt: I didn’t do very well on that stuff. At one point I knew all the bones in the body.

Scott Hambrick: No kidding?

Karl Schudt: High school anatomy. And then I forgot them.

Scott Hambrick: You could probably resurrect that.

Karl Schudt: I need to, I need to do Rebecca Creeks anatomy course.

Scott Hambrick: You could get that one. For the youngsters the very young grammar school kid- they’re learning their multiplication tables, their learning arithmetic, sciences and largely learning about collecting and classifying at that point and dates.

Karl Schudt: They’re learning about stories too. You were going to get the Collier series.

Scott Hambrick: Getting it. Go to indiegogo and order the new Collier’s junior classics that is being kicked off, it’s a ten book series of Aesop’s Fables and all these great stories that kids used to all know. 

Karl Schudt: Your little Poll-Parrot is probably not ready for Great Books discussions but should know some of these basic stories.

Scott Hambrick: “The Fox and the Grapes-” so good.

Karl Schudt: It gives you a vocabulary in which to think. It might take awhile before you think about the stories very much but at least you know the story. I think it probably enriches your imagination in a better way than letting kids do whatever they want. I like the taxonomy. I like the dates, I like to know dates in history. You should know when some things happened. I remember teaching a medieval humanities course, I think it was in the first week or two, I asked about the Roman Empire and I asked, “When did it end?” Nobody knew.

Scott Hambrick: I’m not sure I know- 350?

Karl Schudt: It’s 450 something, I don’t know the exact date, but I was going to give them credit if they got within two hundred years. And they had no idea.

Scott Hambrick: Sweet, I would have gotten those sweet, sweet points.

Karl Schudt: It’s actually a disputed point because I think it ended in 453 when Constantinople was conquered by the Turks.

Scott Hambrick: Well get it back. I was going to make the point that when you thought it ended that’s when Gibbon thought it ended but it really kept going for a thousand years, but I couldn’t get to that point because they didn’t know when it ended. They had no sense of where the Roman Empire was in their historical map. 

Scott Hambrick: What are the five big dates?

Karl Schudt: Five big dates? I haven’t figured them out. Jesus, is that a big date?

Scott Hambrick: Zero.

Karl Schudt: Although there wasn’t a year zero, there was a minus one to one. For me, 1054- Great Schism.

Scott Hambrick: 1066.

Karl Schudt: 1066- Battle of Hastings for you.

Scott Hambrick: It’s when those frogs took over.

Karl Schudt: For me- 1453- fall of Constantinople- I think that’s a big deal but because we’re focused on the western part of the western end we generally don’t think about it. 1776. How many have I gotten, so far? 

Scott Hambrick: I think that’s four.

Karl Schudt: I just need one more. Can I do the founding of Rome- 753 BC? But then you fill in dates around that so if I think about Moses, I’m going to think, “Well, maybe it’s about four hundred years beforre the founding of Rome.” And now I have him on my playing field.

Scott Hambrick: You’re organizing time in your mind by doing this. Zero, 1066, 1776, 1914, 1941.

Karl Schudt: Something happened in 1914?

Scott Hambrick: the whole thing went to hell.

Karl Schudt: When was Online Great Books started?

Scott Hambrick: When was that started?

Karl Schudt: 2017?

Scott Hambrick: We opened enrollment on January 7th of 2018 but I started work on the whole thing in September 2017.

Karl Schudt: You don’t need to know so many dates you just need a few and when you read some history you can stick it there.

Scott Hambrick: And once you have all these factoids, in your head, you’re just a little fountain of information but when you move into that Pert phase they have to start doing something with it and that’s when we install logic and get the youngsters to start to use discursive reason.

Karl Schudt: I really love that she calls it the Pert stage. I remember being such a pain in the ass.

Scott Hambrick: Seems like only yesterday.

Karl Schudt: That’s the time, grab these kids and teach them logic.

Scott Hambrick: I know a young man who got into debate- the debate club in eighth grade- and it’s about when she’s talking about and thrived on that because he’s an argumentative little jerk but he funneled all of that right where it needed to be.

Karl Schudt: Rather than taking the kid who’s a pain in the ass and saying, “you’re a pain in the ass, we’re going to give you detention.” “We’re going to restrict this part of you, shut-up, sit down, and go to your next class.” You’re a pain in the ass now, now it’s time to learn new stuff.

Scott Hambrick: You get your black-belt in ass-pain, debate and logic, and discursive rhetoric.

Karl Schudt: Here’s the quote I was looking for before, I think this is page 48, maybe, “the logic has been discredited,” we don’t teach logic very much anymore, “logic has been discredited partly because we’re falling in the habit of supposing that we are conditioned almost entirely by the intuitive and the unconscious. There’s no time now to argue whether this is true, I will content myself with observing that to neglect the proper training of the reason is the best possible way to make it true and to ensure the supremacy of the intuitive irrational and unconscious elements in our makeup.” There’s a bit in there. People think we’re not rational, emotions are primary, my emotions trump your truth, my hurt feelings are more important than your truth. Whether or not that’s true (I don’t think it is) the reason why we’re inclined to think it’s true is because we don’t study logic.

Scott Hambrick: We don’t have anything else.

Karl Schudt: If we don’t study logic, we’ll make it true.

Scott Hambrick: Well, there is nothing if you don’t have any, and most people have some, but if you don’t have much, it’s not powerful in you, then it is all there is- intuition and emotion.

Karl Schudt: The argument rather than being “hey, you said something interesting,” that I don’t agree with, let’s dissect it and see who’s right. It becomes something different from what I feel therefore you are worthless- horrible. 

Scott Hambrick: People say all the time, “I feel like guacamole’s problematic, or whatever,” and they don’t feel it, they either think it or they have a notion that- fill in the blank. I hear it all the time. My kids will do it every now and again and I’m like, “no.” 

Karl Schudt: He was wagging his finger.

Scott Hambrick: We’re going to talk about what you think about this or what you believe about it- not what “I feel like, whatever.”

Karl Schudt: I just “feel that we need to take into account more experiences and different perspectives.”

Scott Hambrick: I “feel” like prisons should be publicly operated. “Feel” like-what? What do you feel about it? Does it make your butt tingle? What are you talking about, what do you “feel?” 

Karl Schudt: I “feel” like vanilla is the best ice cream.

Scott Hambrick: Wait a minute- that might be true- that you “feel” that. Because there’s no “best” ice cream yardstick that we can all agree on. That one might actually be true but if you say “I feel like the feds should be audited.” No, you don’t. You need to have reasons or go home.

Karl Schudt: The point of the example is that’s it’s true that I have this feeling about vanilla ice cream but it has no truth value outside of me.It doesn’t make you like vanilla ice cream. If I say that I “feel” something should be the case, that’s not an argument. I think that it should  be the case- now I give you reasons. Reasons are publicly accessible- you and I can talk about the reasons, we can examine the logic but my “feelings”’ takes it away from anything that you can contribute to. All we can do is fight about whose feelings are backed by more force.

Scott Hambrick: Let me tell you what I’m feeling right now. In all of this talk about this I literally feel disgusted. I felt it in my face like I smelled something rotten, and I started shutting down. I think that’s normal when somebody’s like “oh I’ve got these big feelings about xyz,” that’s in excess, there’s nothing we can do about that. There’s nothing you can do in the face of somebody who’s spiraling out on how they feel about the school to prison pipeline or whatever but shut down and withdraw form it. You can either concede or withdraw. Maybe they’re both concessions.

Karl Schudt: You can’t argue “I feel this way because you love me, or whatever, you should feel the same way I feel.” It’s a dirty trick like my grandmother might have done. Emotional manipulation rather than logic.

Scott Hambrick: In this Pert stage we move from reading narrative and lyric stuff to arguments and criticism and she says, “then we move our math on from arithmetic to the more abstract stuff- algebra, geometry,” (this is where Euclid needs to be. You learn logic, it teaches so much, this is where Euclid should come in. Then “history,” she says as we start to fill in those blanks between the dates that we talk about, she says we talk about, “we use history as suitable material discussion was the behavior of statesman justified? What was the effect of such an enactment? What are the arguments for and against this or that form of government?” History was just factoids is useless without the discursive element where you question, “what the heck happened?” Was Caesar justified in his treatment of the Gollack people.

Karl Schudt: I remember history classes we would have questions like, “what are the causes of the Civil War?” The answers you’re supposed to give us some list that the teacher has sent you rather than here are the facts let us analyze.

Scott Hambrick: We need to do a whole show on taht.

Karl Schudt: What were the causes of the Civil War? The Civil War was long ago, the point of it is as a use for you to work through logic, it’s for you to think better, it’s like the angels on the head of a pin. 

Scott Hambrick: Did you ever have anyone “teach” about the Civil War and say anything about the Monroe Doctrine about that.

Karl Schudt: I don’t remember it.

Scott Hambrick: I think you should know that our foreign policy, at that time and today even, had been influenced by the Monroe Doctrine. How might that have influenced the federal govt when they had to deal with the succession of other states in the formation of the nation that continent. Intolerable. They never talk about it (they never talk about anything, really). You get your Scott Horseman, Houghtan-Mifflan textbook out and people that want to learn things don’t go to textbooks. Textbooks are this weird animal, this silo that she doesn’t like. You don’t go to textbooks. 

Karl Schudt: That could be a pull quote for the whole episode. You should say it again.

Scott Hambrick: What did I say?

Karl Schudt: People that want to learn anything don’t go to the textbook.

Scott Hambrick: They’re these odd figments that people put together.

Karl Schudt: They’re written by committees in the state of California. California and Texas.

Scott Hambrick: Texas. We know what happens at the Texas school book depository.

Karl Schudt: Yes, we do, but C.S. Lewis had a line on this (associate to Dottie Lee) I believe it’s in his book on Athanasius. It’s an introduction- he writes the introduction to the book and he says, “why would you read a textbook? Why would you read a textbook written by a mediocrity when you could read the actual text written by the genius?” Don’t’ read about athinaceous, he wrote his own books, you can read him. That’s a rule for life.

Scott Hambrick: I agree. She says, “never neglect the material which is so abundant in a pupil’s own daily life.” She says, “There is a delightful passage in Leslie Paul’s, The Living Hedge, which tells how never small boys enjoyed themselves for days arguing about an extraordinary shower of rain which had fallen in their town. A shower so localized that it left one-half of main street wet and the otherdry. Could one argue that say it had probably rained that day on or over the town or only in the town. How many drops of water were required to constitute rain, and so on. 

Karl Schudt: Sounds like Thanksgiving when I was a kid.

Scott Hambrick: I had a group of friends, there at K2C,  junior high school, we would argue stuff like this for weeks. You can only argue at lunch or in between classes or before school and we would argue stuff like that for weeks.

Karl Schudt: From the outside it might sound like fighting. My mom would always say, “quit fighting.” We’re not fighting, we’re arguing. Does it really matter if rain fell in the town?

Scott Hambrick: Nope.

Karl Schudt: Is a hotdog a sandwich?

Scott Hambrick: What’s a pop tart? I was talking about that with my youngest one today.

Karl Schudt: Is it a pastry?

Scott Hambrick: Is it a pastry? Is it a sandwich?

Karl Schudt: Is it a tart?

Scott Hambrick: Is it a tart? If you seal the edges is it no longer a sandwich? “Wherever the matter for dialect is found it is of course highly important that attention should be focused on the beauty and economy of fine demonstration of a well turned argument lest veneration shld wholly die.” That’s what she wants happening for the young person in the Pert age. She says, “It will doubtless be objected that the young persons at the Pert age to brow-beat correct or argue with their elders will render them perfectly intolerable. My answer to that is: children at that age are intolerable, anyhow, and that their natural argumentativeness may just as well be canalized to good purpose and is allowed to run away into the sands.” 

Karl Schudt: I’m going to steal that word “canalized.” 

Scott Hambrick: Like canal-ized.

Karl Schudt: That’s wonderful. I was a difficult student for my teachers.

Scott Hambrick: You don’t say.

Karl Schudt: I was a little smarter than the rest of the class.

Scott Hambrick: They hated me so much.

Karl Schudt: They didn’t know what to do with me. They’d send me to the library, this would have been perfect for me. I had one teacher- she had me do something that was pretty good- (so this was Miss Hanks, she’s still alive, she’s a Facebook friend of mine. She had me write up a summary of the rules of English grammar.

Scott Hambrick: That’s a chore.

Karl Schudt: Start to finish. I loved it.

Scott Hambrick: Do you have it?

Karl Schudt: No, I don’t.

Scott Hambrick: Oh, crap.

Karl Schudt: She didn’t know what to do with me so she made me do something, this big task. All the rules, how to diagram everything.

Scott Hambrick: We could just throw out Strunk and Wright? “Shudt’s grammar.”

Karl Schudt: I appreciate that she did that I’m not sure I ever thanked her. Well, if she listens to the podcast.

Scott Hambrick: She says that the teachers though, and this lady was feeling the pressure probably, “When you educate the children in this way, they will take every opportunity to insert the ;point of the critical wedge and that wedge will go home the more forcibly under the weight of the dialect hammer wielded by the practiced hand.” The teachers are going to have to get theri game on point or the kids are going to eat them alive- which is where you want to be.

Karl Schudt: What about the Poetic age? Now you’ve gone through the ‘Pert stage” you are no longer dopey, you’re dressed in black, you’re listening to Pink Floyed. I listened to a lot of Pink Floyed and thought deep thoughts.

Scott Hambrick: Pink Floyd’s gross.

Karl Schudt: What do you do then with young Karl who is now starting to get weepy and experiencing existential angst.

Scott Hambrick: You focus them on expression through artful rhetoric.

Karl Schudt: “Artful rhetoric.” Rhetoric would be distinguished from grammar. Grammar is how to speak. Logic would be how to argue. Rhetoric would be how to speak beautifully. Don’t you think that’s appropriate?

Scott Hambrick: Yeah, I like that.

Karl Schudt: Dottie Lee has been talking about how the charlatans and bad people will manipulate you with language. They shouldn’t have all the fun, you can use rhetoric at the service of truth and you probably have to. 

Scott Hambrick: Rhetoric is probably now a poisoned word now we think of as strictly polemic, but you need to use rhetoric to make your point (in the best way possible) with people you care about even.

Karl Schudt: In the best way possible, in a way that’s memorable, in a way that we are not merely intellect ( we are more than just intellect) and you have to appeal to more than just intellect. I’ve been poking through a little bit of Shakespeare (since reading Herald Blue). The first nineteen sonnets are to this young man, encouraging him to have babies (they are an act of rhetoric). Bill Shakespere would have written “young man, go get married, have babies.” Instead it’s (I should have come ready with a quote you can dig them up yourself) but it’s a glorious, fourteen line sonnets telling him all the reasons why his beauty’s going to die and yet if he used his beauty- I sent you the one about the financial analogy. That if he made use of the beauty that he had, like the beauty was a fund, it would produce its own executer which is an interesting conceit. That’s all rhetoric, the bigger point would be made but the bigger point could not persuade.

Scott Hambrick: You make the bigger point you end up with “dog moms.” 

Karl Schudt: Maybe we need to rewrite those sonnets.

Scott Hambrick: At about age fourteen you start moving these kids into a study of rhetoric and they’re going to write a lot and speak a lot, they’re going to take all of this information they got in the Poll-Parrot stage, this logic, and this ability to define their terms and create arguments and now they are going to learn to craft beautiful arguments with more artful terms, and speak convincingly beautifully to other people.

Karl Schudt: What then? 

Scott Hambrick: We homeschooled our kids for a long time, the oldest one turned sixteen and she said, “There’s a school in town and you can take ‘a la carte’ classes there and I want to take these two calsses there, and here’s why.” Okay, you’re sixteen years old, you had reasons that made good sense, you can make decisions. I hate schools, I’m in, I’m supportive- let’s go, let’s do it. This school is a Trivium-based school, and these older kids (when they’re in this deep rhetoric stage, not at age fourteen but by the time they’re sixteen-seventeen years old, teach certain subjects to the little kids) that’s part of the rhetoric thing. They have to hone their communication skills to the point that they can pass on other conceptual information to younger people. The model at this school is fantastic.

Karl Schudt: I like that she’s being “Sayersean” because she’s starting to specialize so she’s in the rhetoric stage. The Trivium are not subject matter courses, they’re the how to learn courses, but at some point you would have figured out things that would have interested you and you might have done your rhetorical pieces on sewage and price of salmon or whatever it is you’re interested in. You’ve got your library card and you go read a bunch of stuff about that and now you know how to do it, then you say, “Dad, I think I want to go to welding school,” or “I think I want to quilt make.” I don’t know, whatever.

Scott Hambrick: Who knows?

Karl Schudt: “I want to be a farmer.” I bet you’d be a good one- having learned how to learn.

Scott Hambrick: Right. Let’s go to the county extension office, let’s pick up a bunch of materials about that, you need to start right now, you need to start figuring out what you’re going to plant in a little garden in the backyard because you have sixty acres, and it’s game on.

Karl Schudt: We did an Emerson podcast- in order to be self-reliant, you have to be the kind of person who can go and do something. 

Scott Hambrick: There has to be a self too, damnit.

Karl Schudt: This kid now knows the kid can do it and if the kid comes in (might seem strange). Farmer’s a good example. Who’s a farmer anymore? Good, but now you could go do it. You’re equipped to go do it, you’re equipped to figure it out whereas there’s a lot of people who think that’s not even a possibility to the because they think “well then I’d have to go to school for it.”

Scott Hambrick: If they’ve got their grammar, their logic, and their rhetoric, and they’re identifying terms and arguments and they aren’t 100% intuitive emotional beings they’ll be able to know if they were wrong. Farming isn’t for me for the following reasons that I’ve identified through my research and attempted mastery of the agricultural world. Boom, boom, boom, this is why I should not be a farmer and now in finding out you are unfarmerly, you know a whole lot more about yourself than you did before you thought you were. You’re going to be better suited to the next thing that you try to tackle because our young country lad: starts a newspaper, teaches school, buys a township, he does all that stuff. 

Karl Schudt: This is, to use a modern phrase, this is empowering. I know that’s a terrible word but in the real sense this would be that. It’s giving you the tools to do stuff.

Scott Hambrick: These are the tools. The tools are grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and they defy silos. She talks about, and writes over and over about in here about using history, about using math, about using science to teach how to learn. “The material that you use to teach about how to learn, doesn’t matter- the only thing that matters is the process.” When she starts to wrap this up before concluding these necessarily very sketchy suggestions, she says, “I ought to say what I think it necessary, these days, to go back to discipline which we had discarded. The truth is that for the last three hundred years or so, we have been living upon our educational capital. The post renaissance world, bewildered and excited by the profusion of new subjects offered to it, broke away from the old discipline (which ahd indeed had become dull and stereotyped in its practical application). And imagine that henceforward it would as it were disporting itself happily in its new and extended quadrivia without passing through the Trivium. So the quadriviums are the four liberal arts that you move on to after the Trivium and those are geometry, music theory, astronomy, and what?

Karl Schudt: Arithmetic, I believe.

Scott Hambrick: Arithmetic. And now she says we have this extended quadrivium and I think she’s right. Counting home economics, whatever. And we pass right through the Trivium, not even through it, people don’t’ even do it any longer. This is crucial for everybody. “For the last three hundred years we have been living upon our educational capitol.” There is a reason why we haven’t been back to the moon, and it’s not funding.

Karl Schudt: This is for kids. It’s not for kids, the lecture was for adults but it’s an educational program for children. What if you’re not a child? What do you do? You realize that you got screwed. I realized this.

Scott Hambrick: When did you realize it?

Karl Schudt: I don’t know if I can pinpoint a date.

Scott Hambrick: Were you in your thirties?

Karl Schudt: I was in my twenties because it’s what you do in my family. I have a couple of diplomas that say engineering on it, then I spent a little time…

Scott Hambrick: In Wagoner County that means you went to jail.

Karl Schudt: I’m in the jailhouse now. No, I spent a little time in Catholic seminary and had to take philosophy and was pleased to take philosophy and it was Socrates. I don’t really know what I think I know and I don’t know why I think it, and I needed to get better at that. I’ve been trying to reverse engineer a liberal arts education for ever since then.

Scott Hambrick: Me too.

Karl Schudt: It’s hard, I wish I’d done it as a child. I didn’t have, as education goes I didn’t have a bad education, but it could have been better.

Scott Hambrick: About six-seven years ago now, I was sitting in my office with a young friend (who at that time was about sixteen years old and was trying to wrap up his high school career and was trying to figure out what to do with himself) and he ended up starting a business and never went to college adn we were talking about what we wanted to do with ourselves. I said, “I need to go get the Trivium. He said, “what are you talking about, you’re so strange.” He’s a member of my home book group and has been since the first day and he’s twenty-three now, and we’re all still wrestling with this stuff. That’s when it started to happen for me. So you say, “What does an adult do?” Well the adult probably doesn’t have to do a whole Poll-Parrot stuff. We probably know our multiplication tables, we’ve got some of these dates in our minds, we took some biology, we’ve got a lot of that stuff. If you find that there are some of those things that you don’t have- if you take history, in the public schools, in the last thirty years, you really don’t know many dates prior to Jamestown: 1603. Maybe you’ll get a few of those things but you’ll have most of that and then you need to get some logic. You need to read some of the beautiful arguments in Plato, you need to read some Aristotle, you need to make a study. Every book that’s called introduction to logic- go get one of those. There’s a thing called the binder Trivium, which a non-profit group has put that together and you can find that and download it for free and give them a donation- it will help you with grammar and logic, and read these Great Books. I think that if we get a great deal of the logic stuff, because we learn how to identify terms and arguments. Adler gives us a guideline in his book How to Read a Book. When we speak and argue and debate about this stuff in seminar that’s where we get the rhetoric chunk and write about things you think. Off you go, and you’ll get better at it and you can never stop

Karl Schudt: You’re never done. If you’re our age, language is going to be tricky but not impossible.

Scott Hambrick: It’s not.

Karl Schudt: A little bit of Latin would repay you a lot if you can manage it. If you can’t do that a good book for a lot of the grammar is Sister Miriam Joseph’s book on the Trivium- you might be able to work on her talk about grammar and then maybe skip the Latin. Although you should do the Latin, if you can. What else are you going to do with your life?

Scott Hambrick: I don’t know. The Vikings?

Karl Schudt: Are they a good football team these days? I know the Bears have played some games. That’s all I know about the…

Scott Hambrick: Miss Sayers says, “We’ve lost the tools of learning; the axe and the wedge, the hammer and teh saw, the chisel and the plane, that we’re so adaptable to all tasks. Instead of them we have merely a set of complicated jigs, each of which will do, but one task and no more. And in using which I in hand receiving no training so that no man ever sees the work as whole or looks to the end of the work what uses it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labor if at the close the chief object is left unobtained. It’s not the fault of the teachers: they work only too hard already, the combined folly of the civilationtion that’s forgetting its own roots is forcing them to shore up toddering weight the educational structure that has been built upon sand. They’re doing for the pupils the work that the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole, true end of education is simply this- to teach men how to learn for themselves and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.” That’s Miss Sayers- one of our patron saints.

Karl Schudt: She’s my friend. I’ve spent a lot of time with her, she’s my friend.

Scott Hambrick: There is another Online Great Books podcast, thank you guys so much for listening. We’ve had a very kind review on itunes-thank you for doing that. Please, if you have time, give us a five-star review that helps us gain some search credit. We’ve got some pple out there we need to crush. There are some other podcasts we need to vanquish and defeat.

Karl Schudt: Saddle up.

Scott Hambrick: That’s right, so go out there and give us a review that’s a big help to us and pass this on to a friend, send a link to the show. If you’re a homeschool person, if you’re a math and science person who didn’t get the rhetoric, artsy piece, go read Dorothy Sayers, and get started on this Trivium stuff for yourself. It aint too late. Also, enrollment opens soon so you can go to onlinegreatbooks.com/podcst and you can join our VIP waiting list or if enrollment is open you can join since you’re one of our favorite people because you listen to the show you’ll get twenty-five percent of your first three months with us. Anything else, Karl?

Karl Schudt: No, I think that’s it.

Scott Hambrick: Follow us on instagram, by the way. We have the finest instagram account in the known universe. It’s at onlinegreatbooks.

Karl Schudt: There’s lots of library porn.

Scott Hambrick: Library porn, book porn, nerdy, book memes. It’s a delight. No butt pictures.

Karl Schudt: No butt pictures.

Scott Hambrick: No. Thank you guys for listening, talk to you soon. 

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