Thursday, March 17, 2011

Full, Ready and Exact

Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
Francis Bacon 

     Do I read Francis Bacon?  As much as I would love to tell you that I do, I will instead admit the truth.  I read this quote in a Dorothy Sayers mystery, Busman's Honeymoon.  Mystery  novels are my secret vice.  I choose them carefully, I want them well written and thoughtful, and without too much gore or bad language or trendy sins.  Agatha Christie always has a good story line and a quick wit.  I adore reading Brother Cadfael, a sleuth who is a Benedictine monk and says that capture is for the good of the murderer's soul.  And, of course, Dorothy Sayers, who is too intellectual for me, but I try to keep up.  In the midst of Lord Peter's  repartee of literate quotes, I stop and want to co-opt this one for my own use.
     Reading makes a full man...I could fill a whole paragraph with the cliches of what reading can accomplish.  I'll spare you, you know.  I love the feeling of having a mind that is full.
     Conference a ready man...Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines conference as, "The act of conversing on a serious subject; a discoursing between two or more, for the purpose of instruction, consultation, or deliberation; formal discourse..."  There's a lack of conference in my days.  Though Arden and I may converse on the subject of My Father's Dragon (the book of the week, meaning we read the last chapter and cycle right back to the first), when I finish by calling him Elmer Elevator I know it can't be a serious subject.  Sometimes I see glimpses of hope.  Ally could give me an educated discourse on Queen Elizabeth.  Bryan patiently listens to my ramblings about 17th century England.  Maybe in a few more years you will find me truly a ready woman.
     And writing an exact man...and now, at last, I have come to my point.  This is what I love about blogging.  I like writing, drawing together words, forming sentences, but what writing these blog posts has forced me to do is think about an idea all the way through to a conclusion.  I have lived days half finished thoughts, but who would want to read a blog of half written posts?  Writing requires me to be exact.  I know I could improve (a lot), but I am already improved.  I have thought an idea through to the end.
     And doesn't that quote have a good deal to say about home educating our kids?  This is what we're intentionally doing here at our home.  We have them read a lot of good books, all kinds of books.  We try to engage them in conversation.  The easiest way is at the dinner table, simply by asking one thing they learned that day.  Finally, I want them to write, to be exact, and notice my tense changed there...we haven't finished the task, but we're inching along, one word at a time.

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