Remedial Education: Progress Report
by Bernard Brandt
I am continuing the process of getting my mind back together after finding that my blood sugars were dangerously high. During that time, my efforts at Remedial Education had been put on hold, though I had attempted, in my way, to continue with them regardless of my ability to do so.
Now that my fasting blood sugars are starting to get down to the acceptable range (90 to 110 mg/dl), I’ve been consolidating what gains I have been able to make. This is what I’ve been able to do:
For those of my eight or nine readers who do not wish to re-read the above article, I’ll cut to the chase: I had decided that I wished to organize my studies to consolidate my knowledge of the following:
-The Trivium of Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.
-A modernized Quadrivium of Number Theory (Arithmetic), Visual Studies (Geometry), Physics (Astronomy), and Music.
-A focus on what Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy called ‘The Cross of Reality‘, with the two axes of Inner-Outer and Past-Future, with ‘Inner’ dealing with Psychology, Literary and Artistic Theory and Praxis; ‘Outer’ dealing with the study of God’s two revelations-the physical Universe and the Scriptures; ‘Past’ dealing with History; and ‘Future’ dealing with Political, Economic, Legal, and Ethical theory and praxis.
Basically, I said in that article that in this First Year, I would devote myself to Grammar, the foundations of my Quadrivium, and to do daily readings in Literature, History, Theology, and Political Theory.
So, here’s what happened when plans met reality:
In my study of Grammar, I had wanted to consolidate my knowledge of the four main languages which are the foundation of modern English: Germanic (German and Old English), Latin, French, and Greek. I had attempted to start with Old English and Greek. I soon found that I learn languages better if I start by speaking and hearing them, and then learning to read and write them.
So, I’ve switched in two ways: 1) I’ve returned to French, which is the language I know best of the four, and 2) I am working an hour a day on French, through the FSI course which can be found here. When I have achieved speaking/reading fluency, I will proceed through the similar courses for German and Modern Greek. When that is done, I plan on looking into a good online course in Church Latin. When I have fluency in them all, I will work at perfecting my reading knowledge of Classical Greek, Latin, and Old English.
-Arithmetic and Geometry
I had decided that because most of Physics required a knowledge of numerical and spacial skills, I would postpone the study of Physics until I had mastered Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry. I attempted to use Lancelot Hogben’s Mathematics for the Million, but I found that while it did a fair job of explaining concepts and the language of mathematics (and that its tone was smug to the point of being annoying), it did little to nothing to assist me in the process of the habit of calculation. I also found that I had some rather severe gaps in my ability to calculate.
But I found a wonderful solution to my problem in khanacademy.org. I had tried it a few years ago, when it had a rather clunky user interface that was not very helpful in learning mathematics. I decided to try it again, a few days ago, and they had improved to the point that it was very simple to use. Even better, the interface tested for strengths and weaknesses. In my case, it soon isolated the problem areas, and between the YouTube tutorials of Sal Khan, and the streamlined tests, I was able to go from 60% completion of the skills in Arithmetic to 100% within four days, at an hour per day of study. And I went from 60% to 82% completion in Pre-Algebra in two days at the same rate of study.
My current plan is to work an hour a day through the Algebra module, and when I have gained the skills and the knowledge of that, to do the same for Geometry and Trigonometry. Once I have done that, I intend on adding Physics, and taking the Khan courses in Probabilities and Statistics, Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations. And once I have the knowledge and skill set that comes with those subjects, I will be going through Mathematics for the Million, as well as other texts.
Basically, I’m devoting an hour and a half a day to music theory, to voice training, and guitar, 30 minutes each. We’ll see how that goes.
Cross of Reality:
In addition to the above, I’m taking the time to read daily some literature, history, political theory, and theology. For theology, I’m starting with Orthodox theology, as that is the most congenial for me, and with this website. Of course, Scripture and the Fathers are always welcome as a foundation.
So, in short, I’m doing an hour a day each of Math, Music, and French, and a considerable amount of outside reading as well. We’ll see where that gets me by next month, so I can fine tune things further. Between that and my work, it’s keeping me busy. And that is as it should be. ‘Get busy living, or get busy dying.’