I’m currently sitting in on the co-op schooling of my young charge; every week, he goes to join other homeschoolers for hours and hours of Greek-style, highly academic, hypnopaedia. And by that I mean the kind where myriad facts are stuffed into the mind and rehearsed over and over and over again. The kind where a six-year-old can glibly give you the textbook definition of a participle, using words far beyond her age-level expectation, but not recognize it in a sentence.
You may be able to tell that I’m not into this style.
I had a conversation with my young brother-in-law yesterday about the value of knowledge. It started with him relating a story about a girl in high school who didn’t know what a noun was. He was suitably appalled and was lamenting this fact, at the same time slightly mocking someone that old who didn’t know such a basic concept.
After a bit of thought, I challenged his narrow-minded, indoctrinated understanding. “In the long run, what does it matter if you don’t know the definition of a noun? In what line of work or life activity would you need to know that? I’ll bet that Shakespeare and Dickens wouldn’t have had a clue. If you can read well, write well, and speak well, do you need to know that a noun is a person, place, or thing?”
I don’t think so.