I’ve been (re) listening to Leonard Peikoff’s Philosophy of Education lectures in preparation for homeschooling. On the way to pick up Sam from school yesterday, I was in the midst of the “integration” section. Peikoff first spoke of the need for the teacher to always be pointing out and querying the student for integrations – connections, relationships, the big picture, the wider abstractions, etc. Then, he went on to argue that you can’t only point out the integrations, but that to avoid floating abstractions you must also constantly ask the student to concretize – to give examples, to find new instances of the same thing, etc. You need to do both. In his words, you need to “shuttle” between both integration and concretization.
Sam came out of school and I turned off the lecture so we could have our usual chat on the way home. As Sam’s teacher, Mrs. L. brought Sam up to my car, Toby, who was tagging along that day, barked at her. This happens every time I bring Toby along. He’s a barker anyway, but he gets particularly protective of Sam in the car, and appears quite menacing. Mrs. L. is always upset and scared by his barking, and this time she was particularly startled and left the car quickly. I felt terrible that she had been so upset and said something to Sam about it.
As we were driving off, I thought of a connection. I told Sam, “You know, Mrs. L. is a good person, right? And Toby is a good dog, too. But they don’t get along, do they? See, sometimes both people, or animals, can be good, but that doesn’t mean they make good friends. Just like you and [our neighbor] C. You might both be good people, but you just don’t get along.”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “Mrs. L. is a good person, and Toby is a good dog, but they don’t get along. And I’m a good person, and Jinx was a good cat, but we didn’t get along either.”
Easy as pie, this teaching thing.