Thursday, September 06, 2012

"And in fact it is by falling in love with a subject ..."

Thinking again about the Homeschool High School carnival and wanted to share this quote from Kenneth Clark:

Now, although I believe that this part of education* is the most important part, it has one great defect. One may achieve intellectual discipline, but one doesn't remember a single thing that one learnt in that way, because one doesn't absorb it. I can't translate the simplest Latin inscription, and if you ask me what Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is about I couldn't tell you. 
Education has another aspect -- what you learn through delight. It is a pity that the Nazis spoilt, by adopting it, a very good slogan: "Strength through joy." And in fact it is by falling in love with a subject, a period, a style, an individual hero, that one absorbs something so that it becomes a part of one's living tissue, and one never forgets it ... And the first advice I would give to any young person is, when you fall in love with Roman baroque or with the essays of Montaigne or with whatever it may be, give up everything to study that one, all-absorbing theme of the moment....

*Clark is referring here to intellectual discipline, of which he says, "It's absolutely vital to the conduct of life, and it's absolutely vital to the action of the mind throughout the whole of the rest of one's life. We used to achieve it by having people learn Latin, the most disagreeable thing I've ever done in my life. I did it for ten years and hated it all the time. But I did get some sort of -- well, I suppose one can only call it intellectual discipline out of it."

1 comment:

Melanie B said...

Oh I do like that. Both about the

discipline and about falling in love. Of course for me Latin was one of the things I fell in love with so it was both a discipline and a joy. Some of my happiest hours in high school were spent translating The Aeneid.