Friday, February 28, 2014

Two Kinds of Righteousness: the bosom buddy of Law and Gospel

It seems that once again the world has conspired against me to drag me out of retirement.  Alas, it was so nice and peaceful.  OK, who am I kidding.  I was pretty dog-gone busy.  But, here I am back again - maybe for good? Who knows...

So it seems that the hot topic du jour is the theological concept of the Two Kinds of Righteousness (2KR).  At the heart of the controversy is the title of a presentation on 2KR: "Two Kinds of Righteousness: Better than Law and Gospel".

(On that note,  I am not writing to defend said statement, made by another person - though I may offer clarification later, as I am contacting Dr. Biermann to see if I can get a hold of his notes and/or paper that he used for the presentation.  I think, but I am not 100% sure, that the title of the presentation is simply a means of generating interest and doesn't reflect his actual conclusion.  I will post an update as soon as I can.)

Anyhow, I am not here to defend what another person may or may not have claimed concerning which is more awesome; rather, I am here to defend the idea of the Two Kinds of Righteousness and hopefully show how 2KR and Law & Gospel are inseparable bosom buddies.

So, what is this 2KR?

Simply put, there exists two kinds of righteousnesses - the righteousness of man before God and the righteousness of man before his neighbor.  They have fancy Latin names (coram deo - before God, coram hominibus - before man), but for simplicity's sake we will refer to them as vertical (before God) and horizontal (before man).

2KR - The Basics
According to the teaching of 2KR, man's vertical righteousness is completely passive.  We do absolutely nothing.  In fact we don't even have the ability to do anything - we are deader than the road kill I passed on the way home from church.  The righteousness of the vertical realm is purely a gift of God.  It is only by the grace of God in Christ Jesus that we can be counted as righteous.  So, the vertical or first kind of righteousness is a passive righteousness.  God is active - while we lay squished on the road of life, like the dead road kill we are - and He gives us new life.  In the vertical realm the only action going on is on God's part: God crucifying us, God burying us, and God raising us to new life in Christ Jesus.  God makes us completely perfect in the righteousness of Jesus. This vertical righteousness is actively maintained by God, through His word spoken in the Gospel and through the Body and Blood of our precious savior.  The only role we play in this is as recipient.  God gives and we receive in the faith He so lovingly creates in water and word.

Note: in the picture I drew (I am a great artist, right?) the vertical righteousness is marked by the down arrow.  This signifies the truth that it is God's gift alone.  We do nothing to rise up to God.  We aren't Catholics ascending their ladder.  We are Lutherans and we revel in the giftedness of God.

Now this vertical righteousness has an affect beyond our justification.  It restores us to the creation God intended us to be.  And part of the original creation was our position as stewards of creation.  It is here that the second righteousness comes into play.  The vertical righteousness (Article IV of the Augsburg Confession) creates the horizontal righteousness (A.C. Article VI).  This second righteousness is before man alone.  While doing good is something God wants, we will never earn brownie points before God with our horizontal righteousness.  As one Lutheran pastor put it "our neighbor needs us to suck less," and the horizontal righteousness is the result of the vertical relationship making us suck less.  It is this reality that Paul points us to when He tells us that we have no excuse to continue in sin, and that we should live our lives as slaves to righteousness.  See, the horizontal righteousness is about serving our neighbor, it's about being a good citizen, it's about...well, it's about vocation.  We no longer walk in the flesh, but instead in the Spirit, so we avoid adultery, stealing, killing, lying, coveting - everything contrary to the righteousness of God.  Or, at least, that's what we are supposed to do (but we will discuss our failure to do so later).  The horizontal righteousness is what James is encouraging in his letter as he writes, "You're saved? Great, show it to the poor guy who is freezing by giving him a cloak."

Now as the vertical righteousness is passive on our part, the horizontal righteousness is active.  We are doing stuff in the horizontal realm.  Our activeness here is a direct result of the gift coming to us through God's vertical activity, but it is nevertheless our activity - or, more accurately, the activity that comes from the Holy Spirit working in and through us.  HOWEVER, we should never see this active righteousness as either righteousness before God or as affecting the vertical righteousness.  The vertical affects the horizontal, but not the other way around.  And it is good that the vertical is not dependent on the horizontal - because we are going to mess up the horizontal something fierce.

Law & Gospel and 2KR: Bosom Buddies

First, I want to make it clear that I do not think 2KR is better than Law and Gospel.  Instead, I want to make it clear that you can't have one without the other.  They are too interrelated to separate.  To be perfectly frank, I suspect many of my brothers who reject 2KR have in fact been teaching 2KR
without even realizing it.

Here is why: 2KR is article IV and VI of the Augsburg Confession played out.  Those two articles are all about Law and Gospel, but they cannot be explained without talking about 2KR.

Let's start with the vertical:  In my discussion of the vertical righteousness, I mentioned that it was passive.  Why is it passive?  Because we were dead and God actively makes us alive.  We did - and we do - nothing.  We know this because the Law shot us dead before we breathed our first breath.  The Law prevents us from ascending the vertical by showing us our sin and the fact we are stone cold
dead.  Law is a part of the vertical righteousness, killing us and stripping us of all pretense.  It is God's word of Law that makes it very clear the good person we try to be for our neighbors does absolutely nothing to establish our righteousness before God. 

But wait, there's more.  Because in comes the Gospel!  Yay!  God makes us alive by giving us His awesome gifts of Word and Sacrament.  The Gospel is pure gift, always to be gifted giftedly.  (Thank you, Dr. Nagel - you're the best!)  Righteousness flows from God to us through the Gospel, enfleshing these old dry bones, breathing life into rock hard lungs, jump starting the ticker, creating faith and delivering us from death in one fell swoop.  Woo-hoo!  See how this all plays together?  Our vertical righteousness is established through the Law making us dead and the Gospel giving us life.  Notice that God's two words are completely entwined with the vertical?  It is inseparable - if you have one you will have the other.

I realize that some may respond: But isn't that just Law and Gospel???  Well, this is why I posited that people were already teaching Two Kinds of Righteousness without realizing it.

And now on to the horizontal:  The horizontal righteousness begins with the Gospel.  Without the Gospel we wouldn't even be alive to do the good works our neighbor needs.  The Gospel makes us alive, and as we confess in Article VI, "faith is bound to bring forth good fruits."  It's the Gospel that brings forth the good works of our horizontal righteousness.  So, in a sense, we can see our good works as a gift from God - just as our faith and redemption are gifts (but don't look to them as proof of having faith and redemption).  The Gospel gives birth to our horizontal righteousness, and this horizontal righteousness is then informed by the Holy Spirit, via the Third Use of the Law.  (There is a most excellent treatise here.)  The short of it is that, this side of Jesus coming again, we are still dealing with our old nature.   Or as Paul says it, "for now we see as in a mirror dimly..." (1 Cor 13:12).  

Anyhow, the Law informs us and trains our flesh on how to behave as God wishes us to behave.  So our horizontal righteousness is us living our lives honoring our authorities, striving to remain chaste, helping our neighbor in all his needs, speaking well of our neighbor - and not thinking how I'd love to have my neighbor's Alienware gaming rig with twin 30 inch monitors. Our active horizontal righteousness is all about serving our neighbor.

Earlier, I mentioned that we should not see our active righteousness as an indication of how we are before God.  I should clarify a bit.  We do not look to our active righteousness for hope, because hope comes solely from the vertical righteousness.  Our horizontal righteousness is hopelessly flawed.  The Law tells us this fact.  If you are doing as you should, examining yourself prior to the Divine Service, you should see in your life how the vertical truth of the Law plays out in the horizontal. (These were written for a reason.)  We see how we have jumped over the gutter bumpers and knocked over our neighbor's pins; we see how dead we are in our sin.  This is, in fact, the only role our horizontal righteousness plays in the vertical righteousness:  it proves that we are dead.  If anything, our horizontal righteousness viewed through the Law should drive us back to vertical - seeking those gifted gifts of Word and Sacrament, where God feeds us good wholesome food.

Hopefully, you can see now how the Law and the Gospel are linked in our horizontal righteousness.
The horizontal relationship is the Christian living out his vocations guided by the Law.  The second use is also involved, as it acts like the bumpers in the gutters when I bowl, bouncing my ball back and forth.  Remember, even as we are dead in sin the Law is still imprinted upon our hearts, and it will effect how we behave in our horizontal righteousness.

I really think it isn't a case of which is better.  Rather, it is a case of, "you can't have one without the other".  They are like peanut butter and chocolate: meant to be together forever.

I do not blame guys for freaking out about the title "Two Kinds of Righteousness: Better than Law and Gospel."  Law and Gospel is near and dear to us Missouri Synod types.  We think that Walther's "The Proper Distinction of Law and Gospel" is an incredibly valuable work.  So for us to hear someone claim that something is better than Law and Gospel, well, that is going to hit hard enough to be reminiscent of the fight for the Word of God in the mid 20th century.

As such, I will say I think the title is an overstatement.   I took all but one of my required systematics classes from Drs. Arand and Biermann, and that's where I learned the above. I also attended a pastor's conference where Biermann presented on the Two Kinds of Righteousness, and I am reasonably sure he said it was not that 2KR is better, full stop, but it helps us to better understand Law and Gospel.  Hence my point that the two concepts are inseparable.

It is also largely the point of Dr Arand's article, "Two Kinds of Righteousness as a Framework for Law and Gospel in the Apology"  Arand contends that it isn't that Law and Gospel are inadequate in themselves but that we use them inadequately in our understanding.  As he writes,
Part of the reason that this distinction of law and gospel does not characterize the entire Apology is because the way in which the law and gospel are often construed turns the distinction into an antithesis. At that point, the distinction between law and gospel turns into an opposition in which the gospel triumphs over the law itself, and not only the wrath of God. Any talk about good works is automatically understood to be talk about works righteousness. (see link above for source document)
Arand's point is quite valid.  If you have had discussions with some of our conservative ELCA brethren you may have encountered this phenomenon.  They deny the Third Use of the Law and effectively strip any meaning from the Horizontal Righteousness, thus seeing any talks of exhorting to good works as preaching works righteousness.

So, what I believe is that the teaching of 2KR helps gives Law and Gospel its full reign.  It allows us to speak it fully.  In the end, I believe that a true understanding of 2KR is infinitely better than a false understanding of Law and Gospel.  And hopefully it will help prevent us from falling into the reductionism that led to things such as the rejection of the Third Use of the Law.

Law & Gospel and 2KR: bosom buddies to the end!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Are children capable of sinning?

Alternately, if "choosing" Christ is so all-fired important, why is it impossible for children to do?

I mean, it's so very lovely that God gives children a free pass because their poor little immature brains are incapable of the cognition required to have a *real* relationship with Him. Kind of a nice consolation prize - sure, you're incapable of making a meaningful, fully actualized choice, but, hey, at least you aren't penalized for it.

But that's kind of bass-ackwards, isn't it? *Salvation* being the consolation prize, while the ability to meaningful choose Christ is what determines whether someone has a "real" relationship with God.

And on top of that, that oh-so-kind exemption of children from the effects of having a sin nature - oh, yes, they are born with a *propensity* to sin, but they are incapable of *actively* sinning - the kind that counts - until they are cognitively capable of choosing to sin - has a dark side. Children are "saved" from sin - but the price is part of their humanity.

We are proclaiming them to be fundamentally *different* from adults, simultaneously less than human (inability to comprehend right/wrong, inability to meaningfully choose - that their experience of the world is so circumscribed as to cut them off from a huge swath of the human experience) and greater than human (that same lack renders them purer and above the fray of human fallenness), but in any case, not *fully* human.

Children might not be able to "really" sin, but that means they can't "really" do much of anything worth doing. They just exist in their little children's world, watching the goings-on of the "real world", but incapable of experiencing it themselves. They cannot do or think anything that *really* matters. Until that wonderful, terrible day of moral awakening, they are consigned to the ghetto of their immature minds.

And I just don't agree. Human development is a continuum, with children becoming more and more aware of the wider world, more able to deal with it as they grow, but they are still fundamentally themselves, fundamentally *human* from day one. They are lacking *no* essential quality of the human experience - the scope of their experience increases as the scope of their world increases, but the essential human nature, all its good and bad, is fully present and active from the start.

I look at my baby J, watch him explore his world with such intent, so seriously about his business of learning what's out here, and I can't see that he lacks *anything* of the human experience. We adults might look at the comparative simplicity of children's concerns and think the the simplicity of the object of their focus reflects the simplicity of their minds, but I do not believe that to be true at all. I remember being a child - everything was of the upmost importance, the upmost seriousness. I felt fully and deeply and I experienced the same range of human emotions and frailties and strengths then as I do now. All that has changed is the scope of my world.

I can remember back to age 4, and I knew right and wrong then . And it *mattered*. And my concept of right and wrong has matured as I have matured, but it fundamentally operates in the same way it ever has. And I look at my dc, and I can tell from how they react to the injustices they see that they, too, are aware of right and wrong, and it matters to them, too . From day 1 they have been *themselves*, they have fully experienced the core of what it is to be human, they lack *nothing*. The scope of their world might be small, their ability to communicate limited, but that is no cause to marginalize their experience.

People are people from the start. And have access to the complete human experience from the start, with all the good and bad that implies.

(And, food for thought, the lack of ability to make meaningful choices was *exactly* the criteria used to justify, theoretically (for now), "after-birth abortions" in an ethics journal. That lack rendered the infant less human in a way that justified parents choosing to kill them for the fully-human parents' benefit.

Not to mention the general idea behind abortion - that, despite being genetically a distinct human being, a fetus isn't *really* human until they *also* reach "x" level of development. How is this any different?)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Experimenting with Slip Stitch Crochet, cont.

So I've been doing some swatching, and I've learned why people do F/iB (and iF/B) instead of F/iF (or B/iB) ;) - it keeps the lines from the loops not being working in on just one side of the fabric, instead of both (not a problem working in the round, though). It can be a nice look, but the horizontal lines kill a vertical pattern. Going through both loops, alternating regular and inverse (call it SS/iSS), also solves the problem, but makes for a bit bulkier fabric.

Anyway, the front (non-lined) side of F/iB (and SS/iSS) has a nice vertical pattern that would serve well as the slip stitch stockinette equivalent. The back side has a horizontal pattern that could work ok for reverse stockinette, but I think I like the look of the non-lined side of B/iF better. Might depend on the application which works better.

I'll eventually get pics up - right now my swatches are especially rough ;).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Experimenting with Converting Knitting Patterns to Slip Stitch Crochet

I learned to crochet a few months ago - instant love :). I learned on #10 thread and then jumped straight into lace, including some in actual laceweight. Crocheting was so much fun I thought I'd learn to knit, too. Got some needles, and practiced knitting and purling till I got the hang of it. Learned k2tog, yo, and psso, and embarked on a simple lace scarf in worsted. I was slow, but I enjoyed the process of knitting.

Didn't really want a scarf, though :doh, so when I came across TECHknitter's Elizabeth Cap - designed so that it would fit over large updos :woohoo (there's not a lot of those in the stores ;)) - in was in garter stitch and I thought it would be a great first project. Got my yarn and needles (sprung for Addi Turbos, even), and set off. Enjoyable enough to knit, but I was slow as molasses (exacerbated by sock yarn on #3 needles), and, as I actually wanted to *wear* the hat this winter, I read up on how to knit more efficiently. And that was where the trouble started :sigh - in trying learn to knit more efficiently, I actually got slower :doh and started making mistakes to boot :grr.

So I decided to give knitting a rest and crochet the hat instead ;). (The entire time I was swatching I was feeling extreme happiness to not be knitting :lol.) I started with single crochet, which looked nice enough, but then I got the idea to google for crochet garter stitch, and that introduced me to slip stitch crochet. Played around with it and settled on the slip stitch equivalent of garter stitch - front loop only sl st (F) - with an I hook (to get reasonable drape, you have to go up several hook sizes). Here's what it looks like so far:

Pretty nice, huh? :)

Anyway, in my experimenting with the basic stitches - front loop only (F), back loop only (B), inverse front loop only (iF), and inverse back loop only (iB) - I realized that if F was the equivalent of the knit stitch, iF was the conceptual equivalent of the purl stitch (seriously - just like purl is knit done backwards, and you can purl by knitting left-handed, iF is F done backwards, exactly what you'd get if you did F left-handed, plus it feels similar to purling with how you change where the working yarn is). And B and iB are the equivalent of, respectively, knitting and purling in the back loops.

(It took a awhile to realize this, as the slip stitch version of stockinette is alternating rows of F and iB, and I had been thinking of iB as the purl equivalent. Which it may be, practically speaking, if you are trying to achieve the same *look*. But conceptually, slip stitch stockinette is alternating rows of F and iF. Which I found no examples of online :huh (but I'm crocheting one up now ;)). iF doesn't seem to be used much, and tends to be paired with B when it is, much as F and iB are paired.)

I came to this realization as I was flipping through my Learn-to-Knit Afghan book (I'll master knitting yet ;)), which led me straight to the idea of converting *any* knitting pattern to slip stitch crochet. It wouldn't look quite the same, but that's fine, as that's not my goal - if I want it to look and behave just like knitting, I'll knit it - but I bet it would look nice (and it avoids knitting ;)). I came up with a few ideas for twisted stitches, and something to try for cables. I'm all excited to get started - I very well may end up with a Learn-to-Slip-Stitch-Crochet Afghan ;). A near one-to-one conversion from knit to crochet (not completely, as gauge would be way different, and yarn substitution might be highly desirable) - how *awesome* is that!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes Around the World

This is our focus for Kindergarten (and tagalog K3 ;)) this year. I wanted to do something with world cultures and geography, and given how dd5 *loves* stories, I thought fairy tales were the way to go. Since dd2.5 will be tagging along, I threw in some world nursery rhymes, too.

The basic plan is simple - read the stories and rhymes in whatever order seems good at the time (and however many we are in the mood for), looking up each country on the map and marking it with a post-it arrow, and adding a "stamp" (in our case, a sticker ;)) to our passports. We also have Wee Sing Around the World, and the plan there is to focus on a song a week (or so), with me using my rusty violin skills as accompanist. We also have a few other books - Children Like Us, DK First Atlas - that we'll pull out every now and then.

As I made my giant master list of stories/rhymes by country today, I realized just how many there are (and most of our rhyme books have not arrived, and so aren't even in the list yet). I've no idea how long it will take to read them all, or even if we *will* get to them all. Just going to go with the flow. This is our first year - if we find our groove and dd5 learns to read (or is making progress on that front), Kindergarten will be a rousing success :).

Anyway, since I spent all afternoon typing up this (still only partial!) list, I thought I'd share it with the world, in the faint hope that some one else might find it useful.

Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes from Around the World

Books and Abbreviations (white = fairy tales, blue = nursery rhymes, pink = songs/other, italics = contents not in the list yet):

AWT - "Around the World in 80 Tales", by Saviour Pirotta
GMN - "Can You Guess My Name? Traditional Tales from Around the World", retold by Judy Sierra
Lang - "The Rainbow Fairy Book", edited by Andrew Lang, selected by Michael Hague
NT - "Nursery Tales Around the World", retold by Judy Sierra
SS - "Silly & Sillier: Read-Aloud Tales from Around the World", told by Judy Sierra
SAW - "Stories from Around the World", retold by Heather Amery

MV - "My Village: Rhymes from Around the World", collected by Danielle Wright
SAO - "Skip Across the Ocean: Nursery Rhymes from Around the World", compiled by Florella Benjamin
RRW - "Rhymes 'Round the World", by Kay Chorao

LB - "The Laughing Baby : Songs & Rhymes from Around the World", by Anne Scott

BR - "The Calico Book of Bedtime Rhymes from Around the World", by Mary Pope Osborne

WS - "Wee Sing Around the World"
VP - "Voices : Poetry and Art from Around the World", selected by Barbara Brenner
CLM - "Children Like Me"

DK - "DK First Atlas"

Note: MV, SAO, and WS contain both the native language and English versions.

Bahamas - Clever Mandy - SS
Canada - The White Bear - AWT
Canada - Going Over the Sea - WS
Cuba - The Charcoal Seller's Son - AWT
Guatemala - The Golden Horseshoe - AWT
Jamaica - Tingalay-o! - MV
Jamaica - Anasai and the Plantains - AWT
Jamaica - Anansi and the Pig - NT
Jamaica - Chi Chi Bud (Chi Chi Bird) - WS
Mexico - One Good Turn Deserves Another - SS
Mexico - Red Ant, Black Ant - AWT
Mexico - The Singing Toad - SAW
Mexico - The Ram in the Chile Patch - NT
Mexico - Pin Pon (Paper Doll) - WS
Puerto Rico - El Coqui (The Frog) - WS
Puerto Rico - The Half Chick - AWT
United States (Native American, Pueblo) - The Coyote and the Lizard - SS
United States (Native American, Pueblo) - The Coyote and the Rabbit - NT
United States - The More the Merrier - AWT
United States (Native American, Sioux, Dakota Plains) - The Three Spells - AWT
United States (Hawaii) - The Owl Battle - AWT
United States (African American) - Brer Rabbit Goes Fishing - AWT
United States (Native American, Northeastern tribes) - The Magic Doll - SAW
United States - The Gingerbread Man - NT
United States - I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - NT
United States - Sody Sallyraytus - NT
United States (African American) - The Gunny Wolf - NT
United States (Native American, Cherokee) - NT
United States (Scottish American) - The Three Little Piggies and Old Mister Fox - GMN
United States (African American) - Big Pig, Little Pig, Speckled Pig, and Runt - GMN
United States (Anglo American) - How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune - GMN
United State (Native American) - The Cunning Hare - Lang
United States - Uhe Basho Sho (The Crooked Path) - WS
United States - Eentsy Weentsy Spider - WS
United States (Hawaii) - Nani Wale Na Hala (Pretty Hala Trees) - WS

West Indies - Tingalayo (Donkey Song) - WS

South America - How the Birds Got Their Bright Feathers - SAW
Argentina - Juan Bobo - SS
Argentina - The Man in the Moon - AWT
Argentina - Medio Pollito - GMN
Argentina - Mi Chacra (My Farm) - WS
Bolivia - The Armadillo's Song - AWT
Brazil - If This Street Were Mine - MV
Brazil - Jabuti and Jaguar Go Courting - SS
Brazil - The Three Oranges - AWT
Brazil - Ciranda (Circle Game) - WS
Chile - The Monk's Treasure - AWT
Columbia - The Lost Friend - AWT
Ecuador - Two for You, Three for Me - AWT
Guyana - Bring Girl in the Ring - WS
Paraguay - Toad in the Hole - AWT
Peru - Wish Upon a Star - AWT
Peru - Los Pollitos (Little Chicks) - WS
Venezuela - The Rainbow Snake - AWT

Europe (Andersen) - The Steadfast Tin Soldier - Lang
Europe (Andersen) - The Swineherd - Lang
Europe (Andersen) - The Nightingale - Lang
Europe (Andersen) - The Tinderbox - Lang
Europe (Perrault) - Little Red Riding Hood - Lang
Europe (Grimm) - The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Lang
Europe (Grimm) - The Six Swans - Lang
Austria - The Frog's Wedding - AWT
Belgium - The Lace Makers of Bruges - AWT
Britain - Dick Whittington - SAW
Bulgaria - Orfeo in the Underworld - AWT
Czech Republic - Kuratko the Terrible - SS
Czech Republic - Nail Soup - SAW
Denmark - Snowman Frost - MV
Denmark - A Real Princess - AWT
Denmark - En Enebær Busk (The Mulberry Bush) - WS

England - Silly and Sillier - SS
England - Cap o' Rushes - AWT
England - This is the House That Jack Built - NT
England - The Three Pigs - NT
England - The Three Pigs - Lang
England - The History of Jack the Giant Killer - Lang
England - Jack and the Beanstalk - Lang
England - Lavender's Blue - WS
Estonia - The Laziest Boy in the World - AWT
Finland - The Gift of the Sun - AWT
Finland - Piiri Pieni Pyörii (The Circle Goes Around) - WS
France - What is My Hand Doing? - MV
France - The Miller's Son - AWT
France - Puss in Boots - SAW
France - Jean and Jeannette - GMN
France (Perrault) - Cinderella - Lang
France (Perrault) - The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots - Lang
France - Father Grumbler - Lang
Germany - Dance, Little Child, Dance! - MV

Germany - The Dwarf's Gift - AWT
Germany - The Musicians of Bremen - SAW
Germany (Grimm) - Rapunzel - Lang
Germany - The Ratcatcher - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - The Fisherman and His Wife - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - Rumplestiltzkin - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - Hansel and Grettel - Lang
Germany - The Nixy - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - Snowdrop - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - Snow-white and Rose-red - Lang
Germany (Grimm) - The Street Musicians - Lang
Germany - Alle Meine Entchen (All My Little Ducklings) - WS
Greece - The Pirate's Punishment - AWT
Greece - How the Turtle Got its Shell - SAW
Greece - The Hair and the Tortoise - NT
Greece - Pou'n-do To Dachtilidi (Where Is the Ring?) - WS
Hungary - Thirsty are the Reeds - AWT
Iceland - Bye, Bye, Blacking - MV
Ireland - The Little Donkey - MV
Ireland - The Wonderful Pancake - SS
Ireland - The Giant's Causeway - AWT
Ireland - Wee Falorie Man - WS
Italy - Buggy Wuggy - SS
Italy - The Silver Goose - AWT
Italy - Buried Treasure - SAW
Italy - The Rooster and the Mouse - NT
Italy - The Three Geese - GMN
Italy - Mio Galletto (My Little Rooster) - WS
Lappland - The Elf Maiden - Lang
Latvia - The Fighting Fisherman - AWT
Lithuania - The Mermaid's Marriage - AWT
Malta - Green Figs, Purple Figs - AWT
Netherlands - Hans, the Hero of Haarlem - AWT
Netherlands (Holland) - Kortjakje is Always Sick - MV
Netherlands (Holland) - Brave Hendrick - SAW
Netherlands - Alle Eendjes (All the Ducklings) - WS
Norway - Rain - MV
Norway - Three Billy Goats Gruff - AWT
Norway - The Pancake - NT
Norway - East of the Sun & West of the Moon - Lang
Norway - Ro, Ro Til Fiskeskjær (Row, Row to the Fishing Spot) - WS
Poland - The Dreadful Dragon - AWT
Portugal - Roast Rooster - AWT
Romania - Keeping Secrets - AWT
Russia - Hush You Mice - MV
Russia - Bear Squash-You-All-Flat - SS
Russia - The Czar's Wedding Ring - AWT
Russia - Baba Yaga, the Witch - SAW
Russia - The Bun - NT
Russia - The Flying Ship - Lang
Scotland - The Selkie Wife - AWT
Scotland - Coulter's Candy - WS
Serbia - Little Singing Frog - GMN
Spain - A Helpful Friend - AWT
Spain - The Four Brothers - SAW
Spain - The Water of Life - Lang
Spain - Mi Burro (My Burro) - WS
Scandinavia - Thor's Hammer - SAW
Sweden - Nail Soup - AWT
Sweden - Titeliture - GMN
Sweden - Små Grodorna (Little Frogs) - WS
Switzerland - Joggeli, Can You Ride? - MV
Switzerland - The Herdsman's Song - AWT
Turkey - A Sleeve in the Soup - AWT
Turkey - Ali Baba'nin Çiftli?i (Ali Baba's Farm) - WS
Ukraine - Veselee Husi (Jolly, Happy Ganders) - WS
Wales - The Island of Fairies - AWT
Yugoslavia (former) - Ringe, Ringe Raja (Ring Around Raja) - WS

Africa - Stealing the Sun - SAW
Botswana - The Ostrich's Horns - AWT
Egypt - Counting Chickens - AWT
Ethiopia - White Pebbles - AWT
Ghana - Why Do Monkeys Live in Trees? - SS
Ghana - Rain Song - AWT
Ghana - Tue Tue (Clapping Game) - WS
Kenya - The Rabbit's Friend - AWT
Kenya - Kanyoni Kanja (Little Bird Outside) - WS
Madagascar - The Pheasant and the Hen - AWT
Morocco - The Lion's Dinner - AWT
Morocco - Clever Aisha - SAW
Nigeria - The Tortoise and the Iroko Man - SS
Nigeria - By Royal Command - AWT
Nigeria (Yoruba) - How Ijapa the Tortoise Tricked the Hippopotamus - GMN
Nigeria - Akwa Nwa Nere Nnwa (The Little Nanny Story) - WS
Somalia - Dinner for All - AWT
South Africa (Masai) - The Mighty Caterpillar - SS
South Africa - The Cheetah's Cubs - AWT
South Africa (Xhosa) - The Runaway Children - GMN
Sudan - Secrets are Hard to Keep - AWT
Swaziland - Princess Tombi-ende and the Frog - GMN
Tanzania - The Dancing Hyena - AWT
Tunisia - The King's Best Friend - AWT
Zaire - The Boy Who Tried to Fool His Father - NT
Zaire - Bebe Moke (Baby So Small) - WS
Zimbabwe - Beautiful Bird - MV
Zimbabwe - The Sunbirds - AWT
Zimbabwe - The Hero Makoma - Lang

Afghanistan - When Dreams Come True - AWT
Bangladesh - Toontoony Bird - SS
Cambodia - A Bag Full of Stories - SAW
China - Little Friends, Hand in Hand - MV
China - The Dragon Princess - AWT
China - The Fox and the Crab - NT
China (Hmong) - How a Warty Toad Became an Emperor - GMN
China - Hok Lee and the Dwarfs - Lang
China - Fong Swei (After School) - WS
India - Bathtime - MV
India - The Four Magicians - AWT
India - The Snake Charmer - SAW
India - The Cat and the Parrot - NT
India - The Snake Prince - Lang
India - Anilae Anilae (Chipmunk, Chipmunk) - WS
India - Kai Veechamma (Move Your Hand) - WS
Indonesia - My Village - MV
Indonesia - Clever Friends - AWT
Iran - Let's Play - MV

Iran - The Singing Pumpkin - SS
Iran - Precious Pearls - AWT
Iran - Attal Mattal (Rhythm Game) - WS
Iran (Persia) - Leyla and the Lamp - SAW
Israel - Finders Keepers - AWT
Israel - Zum Gali Gali (Work Song) - WS
Japan - Song of Kites - MV
Japan - Magical Mice - SS
Japan - The Crocodile Bridge - AWT
Japan - The Little Sparrow - SAW
Japan - Oniroku - GMN
Japan - The Crab and the Monkey - Lang
Japan - Ame, Ame (Rain Song) - WS
Korea (South) - Big Brother, Little Brother - AWT
Korea - Arirang (Arirang Hill) - WS
Malaysia - The Secret in the Package - AWT
Malaysia - Pok Amai, Amai (Clap Together) - WS
Mongolia - Evergreen - AWT
Myanmar (formerly Burma) - The Teeny Tiny Chick and the Sneaky Old Cat - SS
Myanmar (formerly Burma) - Master Thumb - GMN
Philippines - Don't Wake King Alimango - SS
Philippines - A Birthday Surprise - AWT
Philippines - Odon the Giant - NT
Saudi Arabia - Three Birds - AWT
Sri Lanka - It's Not My Fault - AWT
Sri Lanka - The Cake Tree - GMN
Thailand - The Parrot's Problem - AWT
Vietnam - Food for the Emperor - AWT

Australia - Grandfather - MV
Australia (Aborigine) - The Koala and the Kangeroo - SS
Australia (Aborigine) - Boomerang - AWT
Australia - Strong Magic - SAW
Australia - Kookaburra - WS
Borneo - Too Many Fish - SS
Fiji - Tapioca - MV
Fiji - Beware of the Shark! - AWT
New Zealand - Big Whale - MV
New Zealand - The Kiwi's Gift - AWT
New Zealand - The Magic Fish Hook - SAW
New Zealand - Epo I Tai Tai E (I Will Be Happy) - WS
Papua New Guinea - The Turtle's Shell - AWT
Samoa - Savalivali - MV
Tonga - Spotty Spider - MV

Once I get my passport stamp-stickers figured out, I'll post them here, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memorize first, context second; or memorize with context

Especially since younger kids can easily and fairly happily memorize things without being capable of understanding the context. I'm thinking of Latin and math, particularly, but it applies to other subjects, too. And for the purposes of this post, I'm assuming that *both* memorization and conceptual understanding are necessary and desirable for complete mastery of a subject - the question at hand is whether memorization can/should come *before* conceptual understanding, or whether memorization and conceptual understanding ought/must go hand-in-hand.

So, my understanding of classical ed (both neo-classical and traditional classical) is that it is largely in favor of getting necessary memory work started in the younger years, and it's ok that they don't understand it right away - get the foundation laid now, and teach them how to use those facts when they are capable of it in later years/stages. Of course, if they *are* capable of it in younger/grammar years, then go ahead and provide the context - but I'm talking about where a given child, at least, just isn't capable of understanding the context/concepts yet, but *is* capable of memorizing the facts that will be necessary in order to use those concepts. Thus the emphasis on math facts and Latin paradigms without worrying overmuch if they can't understand the necessary math or grammar concepts yet - basically, that memorizing without context won't hurt them so long as you *do* bring in the context eventually. And in fact, delaying the memorization *until* they can understand the underlying concepts is actually counterproductive and slows down the overall mastery of the subject.

But evidence shows that, in many cases, students just never moved beyond memorization without understanding in math and Latin. Lots of ink has been spilled trying to sort out the problem (part of which is undoubtedly because many of those students were never *taught* anything beyond memorization in the first place ) - and one common answer is that students should *never* memorize without being able to understand the concepts - that once they get in the habit of thinking that all there is to a given subject/skill is rote memorization and all problems are/can be solved by straight regurgitation of memorized facts, it is very hard, and in some cases impossible, to now teach them to *think*, to break the habit of mindlessly regurgitating facts and instead *use* all those memorized facts to learn and apply the underlying concepts. Therefore, you should be training the proper habits of the mind from the start, teaching students to *think* from the start, and thus never have them memorize anything outside of the context in which it will be used.

And now, I'm sure, you see shades of the conceptual math debates, and the Latin debates over teaching the language as a logic puzzle versus as a language . I've been pretty strongly on the conceptual math side, as well as the Latin-as-a-language side, as a result of my own learning experiences and the end goals espoused by those positions (too many classical types don't seem to realize there is more to math than memorization and the standard school applications, and don't consider reading Latin as Latin to be worthwhile).

But as I'm starting to teach my dd4, I'm running headlong into reality , which is that she just doesn't get some math concepts, won't even let me show her them (they are apparently things that should not be ). And I'm waffling about whether I should stop any formal math until she is more ready, or keep on with the bits she likes, which undoubtedly are going to get into memorizing without understanding, or go whole hog on memorizing, and do lots of chants and such (which she'd like, I'm sure).

Also, I've been reading up on Latin teaching - Bennett's "Teaching Latin and Greek in the Secondary School", which is rec'd by Cheryl Lowe, and Distler's "Teach the Latin, I Pray You", which is rec'd by teach-Latin-as-a-language advocates - it's been interesting seeing the similarities and differences b/w the two approaches. I'm mostly in favor of Distler's approach, which is a rigorous, in-favor-of-memorization-and-drill approach (but always and only in context!) to teaching how to read Latin as Latin. But unless one's kids are language/grammar types, you would hit a wall really quickly if you started in the grammar years - a lot of the grammar topics are the sort that seem to require logic-stage thinking (and the book was about teaching high schoolers). So what is better? To stick with context, and thus memorize mostly vocab and a few forms, but you can use them all? Or to just not worry about context, memorize all the forms along with vocab, even though you can't use them yet, relying on memorized prayers/songs/etc to provide enough context to be getting on with until they are ready for real grammar/syntax study?

Classical advocates say the former makes the grammar/syntax study more difficult than it needs to be, since you have the memory burden on top of learning how to use all those forms. Reading-Latin-as-Latin advocates say getting in the habit of using the forms out of context makes learning to apply them *in* context much harder than if you'd done it right from the start. (And there's the related issue of whether an early emphasis on translation and otherwise constantly turning the Latin into English at every turn - seemingly inevitable with a memorize-first approach - sabotages later efforts to comprehend Latin without *having* to go through English.) Conceptual math debates tend to go along the same lines - does memorizing without understanding the concepts first inhibit learning the concepts later? And if so, how do you deal with kids who just can't seem to get the concepts at all - is it really best to just drop math entirely until they *are* able to understand?

And, just to make things more interesting, classical advocates are all about the necessity of memorizing in context when it comes to teaching reading. Memorizing sight words outside of the context of being able to divide the word into phonemes/syllables and sound it out - phonics - is considered a bad, bad thing. It is better to wait until the child is ready to comprehend phonics than to go ahead and memorize whole words now, figuring you'll go over phonics later, when the child is ready. Why? Because teaching sight words sets up bad habits, habits that take longer to break than just doing phonics from the start. For some kids, *years* longer, it seems. So classical educators *do* acknowledge the issue of out-of-context learning causing bad habits. (And cognitive science has established that we use different parts of our brains when we read via memorized words versus phonically.)

But on the other side of the coin, the idea that the best way to teach expert thinking in a subject is to teach those thought processes from the very first - no setting up bad habits of thinking wrongly or not at all - is likewise rejected by cognitive science. Expert thinking requires a *lot* of domain knowledge, and trying to reason like an expert *without* that domain knowledge is futile at best, and establishes its own bad habits at worst. Their findings support the classical idea that it is best to learn facts, lots and lots of facts, before trying to think about them. And certainly reality tells me that my kids are ready to memorize a *lot* earlier than they are ready to logically think through things.

But a lot of things can be memorized *with* enough context to be getting by - like history and science stories/sentences and poems and songs - even if the kids don't understand them now, what they've memorized still contains quite a bit of context, that is available to them with no further effort than growing up. But math facts and Latin paradigms aren't quite the same - on their own, they give little-to-no hint of how they will eventually be used (bare lists of history facts or science facts have the same problem). Which isn't a problem if they can be memorized without causing damaging bad habits - but is a *big* problem if the memory-work-without-context *does* build bad habits.

Wrt what sorts of memory work is more prone to causing bad habits of thought, the phonics/whole word thing seems to hinge around memorizing core facts - phonograms, say - versus memorizing facts that are actually composed of other facts - whole words. That the problem comes in when you memorize stuff that you really ought to have been logically figuring out. Like in math, maybe it's fine to rote memorize the basic number bonds up to 10 (the facts up to 18 and beyond can be logically determined from there, and are good practice in using math laws and learning mathy thinking), and skip counting through the multiples of 10/12/15/whatever (to get useful patterns into one's head without getting into the potential minefield of whether memorizing the mult/div facts without understanding mult/div causes problems). In Latin, I don't think rote memorizing the paradigms and being able to give specific forms - so long as you didn't get into the trap of using English all the time, and thus develop habits of turning Latin into English - would *hurt*, but I wonder if it is really the best use of time. By avoiding bad/false contexts, you are left with *no* context, hardly - other than looking at Latin sentences/passages and parsing by giving all possible options for the given endings, since you do *not* have the context required to actually figure out which one it probably is. The only point would be to rote memorize the endings, really - is it worth that?

And it seems that *some* level of context is required, because *way* too many people *do* end up thinking of math, or Latin, or history, or science - any school subject, really - as nothing more than a bunch of random crap to be memorized and regurgitated. They *never* get beyond that.

But *how much* context is the question . And how *specific*. Are lots of living books on the subject, read contemporaneously to the memorization, whether or not they apply to the specific things being memorized, sufficient? Or do they need to be specifically related to the things being memorized? Or is rote memorization - memorizing things without context - inherently going to cause bad thinking habits, for which no amount of secondary context - living books, real life applications, anything that is not *explicitly* how it will be used - can prevent?

I mean, whole language types are all about context - but the context they provide is secondary, the context of "why you want to read in the first place" - similar to the use of living books to flesh out memorizing - and in teaching how to read, it seems that, for many kids, that context just isn't good enough. They need the primary context that words are made out of phonemes, and are combined in these ways, and are sounded out like this. Do other subjects have that same issue? Or maybe just skill-based ones?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Classical math vs. modern axiomatic math

I've always been a "yea proofs" kind of person, and I was right on board with the WTM/LCC recommendation of proof-based geometry. And then I ran across this homeschooling couple that does proofs in algebra, too. They (the male half, at least) strongly advocate teaching "pure math" - i.e. starting with axioms and definitions and then using them to prove theorems. And they are doing so with their children. How awesome is that?

I was completely inspired - this is what (neo) classical math is supposed to be. I searched online used bookstores and bought all their rec'd, oop textbooks. I started (slowly) learning to do proofs myself. I was invigorated by all the possibilities.

But what about the elementary years? Were we condemned to just mark time doing fake math 'till we're ready for the real stuff in algebra?

And then I found CLAA, and their Classical Arithmetic program. No marking time here! It deductively builds up, from the very beginning, the whole of arithmetic. From the beginning, the focus is on proofs. For 9 year olds! I was in love - *real* math, from the beginning. Now that I know it was possible, I started thinking of exactly how to do it.

But should I do classical axiomatic math or modern axiomatic math? For one, I'm not wanting to enroll my dc in CLAA, so it would be *me* taking the courses, and then synthesizing the info into something I could teach my kids. And I know nothing about how the ancients did math. But I suspect it is quite different than modern axiomatic math - and that those differences have important philosophical ramifications.

One of the more obvious differences is that ancient math seems to rely on words and thus on traditional logic, while modern axiomatic math uses symbolic logic. I've read Martin Cothran's essay, "Logic is not Math," as well as the section in Kreeft's "Socratic Logic" that contrasts traditional and symbolic logic (and certainly they are not the same thing), which has given me an idea of some of the philosophical issues that led to the development of symbolic logic, but I've no idea how that plays out in the use of symbolic logic in math. I feel that it has a deeper significance than just that one uses symbols and the other words, but as to what that significance actually *is*... only vague impressions.

A less obvious, but possibly more fundamental, difference is how they treat axioms. (Certainly there seems to be a big difference in axiom choice b/w ancient arithmetic and the modern properties of the real number field.) From the CLAA article, the ancients picked their axioms based on what was self-evidently true. I'm guessing they just have one master set of axioms for each major branch of the Quadrivium (or just one set of axioms, period). However, moderns have different sets of axioms associated with all different kinds of sets, and they select their axioms based not on self-evident truths, but on trying to generate the smallest set of axioms possible (they hate the whole idea of having to *assume* anything - clear philosophical implications here! - and so want to have the fewest assumptions possible). This can result in axioms which are very much *not* self-evidently true, as well as multiple valid set of axioms to describe the same structure or branch of mathematics.

As well, moderns are interested in what happens when certain axioms don't apply, with little to no concern if it the results seem to correspond with an external reality or not, so long as they are internally consistent (e.g. non-Euclidean geometry came about from imagining what would happen if parallel lines *did* intersect, even though it seemed self-evident that they don't). I'm not sure that this concept would make sense to the ancients - would they care about the results that came from assuming that a self-evident truth was, in fact, not true? (Interestingly enough, though, several branches of mathematics that seemed to have no real world connection when they were first discovered were later found to be exactly what was needed to mathematically describe a new physics theory.)

What do the above differences in approach to axiomatic math reveal about the underlying philosophical differences between the ancients and modern mathematicians?

I don't know, yet. But I'm trying to sort it all out.

(Of course, its not like moderns even have a consensus on the underlying philosophy of math in the first place. Are we discovering things that have always existed, or is math just a human construction? Why is math so strangely effective at describing the real world? For all I know, the ancients were just as divided.)