"[Great works] did not merely entertain; they exposed us to something better than we could find elsewhere. And we hoped that such exposure would make us better as well- healthier intellectually and emotionally....Classical education was thought to improve the learner, not simply to make him more knowledgeable or tolerant or mentally skillful, but better and stronger, just as there survives today a residual belief that one who has, say, read and digested all of Shakespeare is better, more insightful, than one who has not." -Climbing Parnassus, quoted by the Crimson Wife
Classical self-education demands that you understand, evaluate, and react to ideas. In your journal, you will record your own summaries of your reading; this is your tool for understanding the ideas you read. This - the mastery of facts - is the first stage of classical education. (Well Educated Mind, pg 39)
Remember that the goal of grammar-stage reading is to know what the author says; the goal of logic-stage inquiry is to understand why and how. The final stage of reading - your rhetoric-stage pass through the book - has a third goal. Now you know what, why, and how. The final question is: So what? (Well Educated Mind, pg 46)
Questions to Ask Our Book:
Are there any important analogies or comparisons?
Are you going to change something because of the book?
Did something irritate you? Why?
Did you learn anything?
Does the author have a bias?
Does the author have an agenda?
Does this book have a theme?
Does this book say anything about human nature? Do you agree?
How does the author's style contribute to or (or detract from) the book?
Is the author asking questions? Does he answer them?
Is the author trying to convince us of anything? Are you convinced?
Is the book pressuring us to take anyone as a role model?
Is there anyone in the book you identify with? What makes them like you?
Is there anything the author is NOT saying?
What do you think of the choices the characters make?
What does the book reveal about the author? What about his cultural or hitorical setting?
What is the "moral" to the story? Do you agree? Why?