List of 10 news stories.

  • [A diagram from Harold Speed's The Practice and Science of Drawing. It illustrates how we gravitate from a young age toward symbolic drawing (A) rather than the drawing of light and shadow as we see it (B).]

    On Art Education

    Ben Walter
    Classical art education provides more than a creative outlet. Like any discipline, art education should have a structured curriculum. Art training neither stifles nor guarantees creativity. However, it does remove impediments to expressing oneself creatively. There are four specific benefits of a systematic art education.
     
    1. Accurate Perception.
     
    Perception is our view of the world. Accurate perception is the ability to see things as they really are, not a pre-conceived mental shorthand of a thing. Training in perception involves understanding the relationship between form, value (light and dark), and color. Form is the boundary of an object. Usually, in the perception of form, our tactile sense dominates our visual sense. A person feels the boundary of a ball, and, if untrained in art, will draw a ball as a circle with an edge. The circle is really symbolic—it marks where he feels that the ball stops. However, objects as they appear do not have boundaries delineated by lines. In reality, form appears through shapes of value (light and dark). While an artist may interpret form into line, this is an interpretation of reality.
     
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  • Reconstruction of the Acropolis and Areopagus in Athens, Leo von Klenze, 1846

    Athens, London and the Plague

    Ben Walter
    History doesn't necessarily repeat itself. However, history instructs us on what can happen; it lets us see the triumphs and catastrophes that civilizations are capable of. The downfalls of great nations illustrate what our own culture must avoid. As Covid-19 looms over the two-thousand and twentieth year of grace, we should take a moment to look at the societal impact of pandemics in history. I've chosen two opposite examples for our glance backwards in time: Athens in 431 B.C. and England in 1665 A.D.
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  • And the Moral of That Is…

    by Ben Walter
    I remember reading with delight my parents’ edition of Aesop’s fables. Almost as fascinating as Milo Winter’s beautiful illustrations were the morals at the end of each story. For the Fox and the Cheese it was, “Don’t listen to a flatterer;” for The Sun and the Wind, “Kindness works better than harshness;” and the Satyr and the Man, “Don’t say one thing and do another.” I think I liked seeing how the stories were more than just a plot—they meant something.
     
    Fables like these do form an essential part of the intellectual development of young children. However, it is important that children are taught to look beyond the simplistic moral that these stories present. Otherwise, their ability to relate virtue to a complex world will be stunted. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
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  • Heroes at Dinner

    Ben Walter
     
    I enjoy helping monitor lunch at JH Classical Academy. Rather than grabbing a working lunch, I’m forced to sit down, pause my work, and catch up with a student or colleague over food. This might just be “classical.”
     
    The 10-12th grade Humane Letters class just finished reading Homer’s Iliad with Dr. Rudolph. The Iliad is the 7th century B.C. epic poem of the Trojan War and is about heroes and heroic behavior. In her essay The Necessity of the Classics, Louise Cowan argues that each generation must read about heroes in the ancient and modern classics. She writes,
     
     
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  • Arete 3

    Ben Walter
    The previous essay explored how the Greek word arete changed over centuries from meaning “excellence of any kind” to primarily “moral excellence.” We left off with Aristotle, who believed that virtue consisted in actions to pursuit of happiness (with true happiness being a well-ordered soul not physical pleasure.)
                Aristotle, and many other classical philosophers, thought that the virtuous person was ruled by reason—i.e., that reason leads to virtue. And how could they not? Unbridled passion and immoderate feelings create a turbulent, rather than well-ordered, soul. These philosophers also generally agreed that not even religious feeling was particularly inclined to create virtue. How could the philandering Zeus or resentful Hera be considered role models for virtuous action? And so classical philosophers viewed fervent religious devotion, beyond the necessity of public duty, as superstition at best. Only reason and intellectual contemplation lead to virtue.
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  • Beethoven-Mahler 1815

    My Favorite Composer

    by Ms. Koci
    Choosing a favorite composer is hard, but my favorite has to be Ludwig van Beethoven. Why? He changed the rules of music. His compositions are groundbreaking.
     
    Now how about a favorite piece of mine? Well Beethoven’s rousing 9th Symphony or his haunting Moonlight Sonata are tempting choices, but I’d have to go with his Piano Sonata 23 in F Minor nicknamed the Appassionata in 1837. The more I listen to the piece the more I identify with it.
     
    Listen here and here to the first and third movements.
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  • Arete Part 2

    Written by Ben Walter
    Warrior Ethos

    One of the definitions of arete is virtue. The word virtue is from the Latin vir meaning man. The Roman god of Virtus was depicted as holding a javelin and wearing a helmet. Someone who had virtue, in the classical usage, was quite literally and stereotypically “manly”: he was brave and able to defend his family and city.
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  • Prodigal Son Rembrandt

    Written by Ben Walter
    The Return of the Prodigal Son
     
    Rembrandt is probably the greatest (in my biased opinion) of the Dutch Baroque painters. Of his many masterpieces, The Return of the Prodigal Son is one of the best. It was completed in 1664, a few years before Rembrandt’s death; it contains psychological insight with a personal and moving interpretation of Jesus’ parable.
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  • Arete Part 1

    Written by Ben Walter
    Arete is an ancient Greek word that means “virtue” and “excellence.” Arete is the goal of classical Christian education. This goal is reflected in JH Classical Academy’s mission statement:
     
    The mission of Jackson Hole Classical Academy is to cultivate within its students the wisdom and virtue necessary to discover their God-given potential and contribute to a flourishing and free society.
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  • Rossetti's "A Chill"

    Written by Ben Walter
    I want to share one of my favorite poems in our curriculum, found in the first-grade recitation list. (Incidentally, I think this was the first poem I ever memorized.)
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