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For the parent contemplating the education of their children at home, there are many books offering advice, and businesses that will sell you curriculum. I am familiar with some of these, and where I can, will offer comments and personal opinions from time to time on these pages. But ReEnchantment is not an advice book.

 

If you’ve read ReEnchantment already, you may be curious about some of the books and movies mentioned in the story and what relevance they had in the creation of the plot and the story writing. “Sources” is meant to put that information together in an easy to access format. If you have a particular question about something, e-mail me. If the question is one that others are asking, we’ll post it and an answer on these pages within a reasonable time. Please understand that in submitting a question you are allowing us to use it on the site without further permission and without any claim of copyright.

On the back cover of ReEnchantment there is a statement from Jeffrey Lehman, a tutor at a well respected “great books” college in California. We asked Mr. Lehman to read and comment on the manuscript, and he was generous is doing so.

Ken set out to write a story that would give inspiration and confidence to parents interested in educating their kids at home. He ended up with a delightful, engaging tale that reminds us of ‘the permanent things’ and how we ought to go about pursuing them.

It’s reasonable to suppose that some readers might ask what “the permanent things” are. T.S. Elliot, whose words from a poem are the epigraph for ReEnchantment, wrote that permanent things were the things that bespeak the Christian vision, that bind us across time and space and unite the generations. They are the tradition, what we read and remember and allow ourselves to be guided by. It’s very flattering that Dr. Lehman said what he did about ReEnchantment’s message, and I’m hopeful that you will be enticed to buy and read the book, and discover why he feels the way he does.

Part of the tradition of a Liberal Education – one where the emphasis is on learning to think and reason, rather than being trained for a task, involves courses that sadly have disappeared from curriculums over the past fifty years. Many call that mostly lost curriculum “the core” and if you have been dreaming about where your kids might attend college when they are ready, and have visited any web sites that end in .edu, you have likely noticed that there is a noticeable absence of course offerings for what was once this kind of classic liberal arts education. Yes, there’s plenty of variety; but the offerings hardly seem serious.

To help parents through this dilemma is Fr. James V. Schall, a professor at Georgetown University, and his thin but full book titled A Students Guide to Liberal Learning published by Intercollegiate Studies Institute www.isi.org. And if you want more Schall you can go to his web site– http://www.morec.com/schall/. His essay “On the Education of Young Men and Women” is on the web and very worthwhile reading. Fr. Schall consistently makes the argument for an ordered and integrated approach to knowledge, the need for core curriculum, and students knowing “the truth for its own sake” and not for the sake of getting a passing grade or a diploma. Fr. Schall asks that authors give readers something to think about; and hopefully I meet this criteria with ReEnchantment.

Parents of young children are often receptive to the counsel of others, especially their advice to read to their children early and often. There are lots of choices for this regimen and in recent years people like William J. Bennett with The Book of Virtues have provided anthologies that make the search for good, positive stories easier. Readers of the Bennett books will recognize mention of some of his selections in ReEnchantment, as they will selections from William F. Buckley’s collection: Treasury of Classic Children’s Literature.

A few years ago I discovered a wonderful educator named Louise Cowan from The University of Dallas. With Oz Guinness she published Invitation to the Classics, a sampling of two thousand years of notable literary works and thinking in the Western and Christian tradition. Some of Louise Cowan’s work can be found online and her articles are always illuminating, especially those relating to Character– often focussing on boys and their need for strong stories to guide them and help them develop into good men. I think that ReEnchantment is very much a “character” book.

There are many stories and movie videos mentioned in the book, and I will admit to having to stop my writing from time to time in order to reread, and in some cases, review several old movies and books. Often I rediscovered something that I did not notice or remember from a previous encounter. There is probably a clue here for parents in choosing books or movies for their children: Make sure you know what the themes are, who is battling whom, and what the opposing sides favor or represent. And instruct your children that learning to think and living the virtuous life requires practice.

ReEnchantment contains many allusions to books and movies from the past, but does not pretend to be or suggest itself as a sequel to any perviously written story.

We believe it to be a Christian story, but an ecumenical – some might say “mere” Christian story. Our primary goal was to help parents develop the confidence necessary to take a more active role in guiding their children’s education.

And remind them to “be not afraid.”

Books

Film

Music