Lukas McCamden's Thoughts on Education
The woman in whose mind I reside is preparing to return to what she calls "school." Personally, I've never seen her attend anything I would recognize as a school. She was quite young when I first met her--thirteen, I believe, the same age as Alynn when we had our first adventure. Still, glancing at her work, I was appalled. Where was the Latin and Greek? The exercises in oration and rhetoric? Where was the astronomy, the medicine, the botany? Why the effort wasted on the mathematical theorems?
Worse yet, at the particular institution she attended--quite a large one, boasting thirty students--she was given little attention. She was separated from her peers and given a book and told to learn from it. While self-instruction is a valuable skill, and the means by which I have acquired the larger half of my own academic knowledge, how dare those pedagogues thrust it upon children in this manner? Even the youngest students, the ones who ought to be hardly old enough to read their own directions, were left to their own devices.
Perhaps, I thought after a few months of witnessing such dismal educational circumstances, my young author would be given a better education as she aged. After all, the adults around her--parents, godparents, and priests--were doubtless instilling better things into her than her books could. Doubtless she was taught things like clothes-mending, child-minding, and finance-managing. She was a young lady, after all, preparing for her own future that invariably includes things such as marriage and children and keeping house.
But now, my author tells me, she has only a single year left in her education. She has grown into a lovely young lady now--she reminds me of Alynn, ever so slightly, mostly in the fact that she slips so effortlessly into the role of housekeeper when her mother is away. She was raised well, this child. At any rate, I asked after her areas of study--and think of it! Still no Latin! Still no Greek! Instead, she has been given a list of books to purchase. A list of some twenty books, all in one language, and all of them to be read in the span of sixteen weeks!
How education has become easier and yet more challenging all at once is simply baffling to me. I was blessed, I suppose, to have Father Sean instruct me in the Psalms and Brother Eammon sit beside me as I stumbled through Hippocrates for the first time. I was blessed, I suppose, to trot alongside my father in the barley fields, mimicking his motions as he scattered seed upon the fertile earth. I was blessed, I suppose, to find myself instructed by the Lord and Creator of knowledge after the untimely murder of my teachers and role models.
Slowly, I am learning that there is more to life than books and logic. I watch my author, though she does not always see me watching. I watch as she tends to her plants in the plastic tub she calls a garden; I watch as she shepherd-knits hats for infants and sings them to sleep with the same lullaby my father once sang to me. And I realize that, although education has changed, life has not. And when it comes to life itself, book knowledge is of little consequence. The majority of my contemporaries, after all, got by with far less formal education than is common in my author's era.
Although I do wish I could teach her a bit of Latin and Greek. Reading Caesar and Hippocrates is quite a rewarding endeavor.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.