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Posts Tagged 'paths to grad school'

A second hurdle cleared…

As chronicled somewhat after-the-fact, in November of 2010 I cleared the first of a handful of hurdles towards finishing graduate school — I passed my third semester review, which meant that I had finished my Masters degree.

For a number of reasons, I took an incomplete in a seminar that same semester. I’d planned on a paper for that seminar that had the severe discourtesy to show up in a major journal written by somebody else that same fall, which really threw me for a loop, and for a number of reasons the prof was largely unavailable (for good reasons, I should stress) for consultation on other possibilities. I sort of cobbled together some thoughts from the rubble, and showed them to the prof in March of this year as something of an abstract/outline/stream-of-consciousness, and he found them largely incomprehensible. When I tried to re-explain what I was shooting for, he had some more or less decent suggestions, but he didn’t exactly seem thrilled, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled either. By May I had completed all coursework requirements except for this seminar.

When I feel like I’m on shaky ground with my subject, my instinct is to show my work. So, taking some of the professor’s suggestions and trying to turn them into a paper, but not feeling totally confident it by any means, I showed my work. A lot. I turned in a rather long paper in June, and I still think it’s work that had a good point to make, but I got an e-mail from him a week later asking if it was a draft to be discussed or a final paper that needed a grade. The vibe I got from the question indicated to me that it would be in my best interest to say, Oh, it’s a draft, of course it’s a draft, yes, since is the last seminar paper I get to write I’d love to have feedback.

Thus it was in July that my instincts proved correct; he gave it back to me and said, in essence, I don’t know what the hell you thought you were writing, but try again, and good luck, because I don’t really know how you’re going to fix what you have.

I still think, as I said, that what I wrote was more reasonable than what he thought. However, I also have to acknowledge that I wrote a patristics paper for a political historian, and therefore it should be no real surprise that the political historian took one look at it and said, “Huh?” I’m absolutely certain it wasn’t a perfect patristics paper, but I’m positive it wasn’t the awful one he said it was — it just wasn’t a good enough one to really be able to transcend methodological boundaries.

Well, anyway, I kind of flailed about with what I wanted to do for a couple of months. Then I had a conversation with a different faculty member who revealed that she had been one of the reviewers for the article that had knocked the wind out my sails on my original topic, she said her feedback had been rather clumsily incorporated, and that there was lots wrong with the finished product. Suddenly I felt quite emboldened to return to the project the way I had originally conceived it, and once I got going on it, it went pretty quickly. The result was much leaner and tighter, and after a round of feedback on it with this second professor, I turned it in three weeks ago yesterday (Thursday).

Yesterday I got the paper back, and it was a much happier conversation than the one we’d had in July. My incomplete was changed to a grade by yesterday afternoon, and so now I’m officially done with PhD coursework. Next up, exams… which will be their own party to be sure, but the hurdles are getting cleared.

Reviewing some of my thoughts during this blog’s first year of existence (like the examples below) — well, I’ve come a long way, thank God.  I just turned 35 a couple of weeks ago, and It’s still even possible I might have a real job before I’m 40. (Assuming that higher education doesn’t completely collapse, but never mind that now.)

https://leitourgeia.com/2007/12/10/getting-a-late-start/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/03/03/a-high-number-of-strong-applicants/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/03/09/on-forgiveness-sunday-the-alleged-plurality-of-methods-by-which-one-may-relieve-a-feline-of-its-flesh-and-other-musings/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/03/18/dr-liccione-my-prayeris-to-be-shown-a-way-out-of-the-box-im-in/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/03/20/more-on-the-alleged-plurality-of-means-by-which-one-may-remove-flesh-from-a-feline/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/04/25/a-parable/

https://leitourgeia.com/2008/07/28/that-unwelcome-guest-known-as-reality/

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Counting hatched chickens, nos. 1-3

In which I explain three of the four of my heretofore uncounted hatched allegorical poultry…

As both of my longtime readers might recall, I was in a very real state of professional despair at the beginning of the 2008-2009 academic year. Much had gone wrong; I had been working my tail off only to be told, “You can’t get there from here,” it appeared that nobody had any idea what to do with me, and it seemed like I was totally out of options.

Wanting to still take advantage of my IU employee fee courtesy but feeling overwhelmed at the thought of taking more Syriac and starting Coptic with no clear road to having anything I might be able to do with them, I did a two-for-one swap for Modern Greek, figuring that I would be able to leverage the work I’ve done with ancient Greek and have a reasonable semester or two.

Long story short, the Modern Greek professor and I uncovered the idea that me doing a Masters in West European Studies would be beneficial for both of us. It would help me convert a good chunk of my unmatriculated credits into a degree within a semester and a half or so, and having an additional graduate student who specialized in Modern Greek issues whom he could add to his roster would help him in his efforts to raise the visibility of the Modern Greek program here. He gave me some very useful counsel on my personal statement, wrote a letter of recommendation, and in general went to bat for me every step of the way.

This brings me to hatched chicken #1, previously announced here, that I was admitted to the Masters program in West European Studies back in December.

While I was gathering my letters of recommendation for West European Studies, a member of the History faculty whom I had approached to write for me said, “Yes, I’m happy to write, but have you thought about applying to History again?” No, I replied, I hadn’t; it had rather seemed to me that the door had been closed on that possibility when I was turned down three years ago. This person disagreed, and very much encouraged me to apply. “You’re a much different candidate than you were then,” I was told, “and I’m not concerned about you having a B.Mus. rather than a B.A. in light of the other things you’ve accomplished in that time. I think it would be worth the fifty bucks for you to apply.” I was told, very frankly, that funding could well be an issue for a number of reasons, and it would take some talking to get me admitted as an unfunded student if it came down to that, but I was also told that as much advocacy for my case as this person could legitimately offer throughout the process would be employed. I was dubbed a “professional applicant” by another member of the History faculty when I discussed this matter with them. This is somebody who has been there since the first time I applied to History, and with whom I’ve had a near-annual conversation about what I’m applying to next. I alluded to this in an intentionally vague manner here.

To make a really long and drawn-out story a little less long and drawn out, I am thrilled to say that hatched chicken #2 is that I have been admitted to graduate program in the Ancient Studies field of the Department of History, and I’ve been awarded a five-year funding package. Exactly where I’m focusing my interests is still coalescing, but it will be the Late Antique Byzantine Empire someplace, probably with a particular interest in Syria and the Middle East.

We’re not quite done yet. West European Studies encouraged me to apply for a kind of a fellowship called a FLAS — Foreign Language and Area Studies. Essentially, it’s federal money which supports graduate study of modern languages, and there are two components, an academic year component and a summer component. The academic year component is full support for two semesters; the summer component supports summer study of at least a certain number of contact hours, including travel if necessary. I applied for both components with Modern Greek as my language; once again, my Greek professor had some very useful advice on my personal statement, and was happy to write a letter of recommendation.

And thus and so it came to pass that I found myself with hatched chicken #3, the academic year FLAS. History has been obliging enough to allow it to displace, rather than replace, a year of my funding package with them, meaning I have six years of full support with a good chunk of coursework already completed.I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I should have a reasonable amount of space in which to get it done.

Then there is that fourth κοτοπουλάκι running around here someplace. He’s hatched, but I need to make sure he calms down and won’t try to fly away (thus falling to the ground like a stone) before I show him to my friends. That shouldn’t be long.

In terms of why I’ve had to be circumspect about some of this, well, word on blogs and Facebook accounts tends to travel fast, and I have both an employer to consider as well as various other people whom I could put in an awkward position if I said anything prematurely. Until egg #4 hatched (or broke apart revealing a runny yolk), I couldn’t tell those good people anything for certain (and it will be clear why once I can tell you about it), and I couldn’t really announce it publicly until I told them what was happening. In general, I try to not post anything that might come back to bite me later on.

One way or the other, this has all been a rather stunning turn of events for me. Although my path has remained less-than-linear, to say the least, it’s been a real game-changer of a year, let me tell you. Δόξα τῷ θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν!

News

I figured that probably the earliest I’d hear anything from West European Studies, particularly given that they seemed unaware that I had applied for next semester (as opposed to next year) until I told them in person three weeks ago, would be the week after Thanksgiving. I also figured, based on anecdotes and previous experience, that good news would come by e-mail and bad news would come by postal mail.

Today, I got home and saw an envelope in my mailbox from West European Studies.

My first thought, as might perhaps be predictable, called to mind Oedipus. I completed the idea by saying to myself, “Well, guess that didn’t work out.”

Just for grins, I decided to open the letter. Upon unfolding it, the first few words caught my eyes:

“We are pleased to inform you that…”

So, a door has, at long last, opened. We will see what happens on the other side of it — but in the meantime, I’m drinking champagne with my wife this evening.

(Oh, and the DVD of The Dark Knight arrived today, too.)

14 NaNoWriMo 2008 et cetera

I find it rather unlikely that I will complete 50,000 words within the next sixteen days. Nonetheless, I find it entirely possible that I will finish the first draft of what I’m working on — which, as I said before, I’m doubtful is 50,000 words long in the first place. Maybe more like 25,000 to 30,000; possibly even more like 15-20,000. We’ll see. It’s intended to be more of a shorter children’s book anyway.

Word count notwithstanding, I have been able to work on this at least a bit every day, and it’s taken me down some interesting paths. I realized that Petros and Matthias share a dorm, and that there’s a good reason for it — but I’m only going to be able to allude to that reason. I’ll have to save the full story for… well, later. I also had one of those experiences where the characters just up and decided to leave the room, leaving me behind sputtering, “Wait! Where are you going? Come back!” Unfortunately, they didn’t listen — typical 10 and 11 year-olds — meaning I had to run outside after them, only to find out that they were playing something called campyon, and now I had to learn the rules (such as they are) in order to keep up. (And, who knew, turns out campyon actually exists.) Not altogether certain about the propriety of “playing at ball” on the Feast of Feasts, but nobody asked me. Maybe once they’re done with their game, these kids can be bothered to, y’know, actually start following my outline again.

In other writing news, one of essays I put up here while lamenting a lack of a publisher seems to have found a publisher. Again, this was not a case of anybody stumbling across it online and saying, “I’ve got to have this!” Rather, I sent a revised (and ultimately, better) version of the piece to the editor saying, “I understand your theme for an upcoming issue is such-and-such. What would you think about this for that issue?” The editor wrote back saying yes, I like it, let’s do it. As before, I’d rather not say anything concrete about what or where until the issue is out, just because I know that nothing’s a done deal until the printed matter is actually in your hands, but this looks hopeful.

I urge you to listen to the final address to the OCA’s All-American Council of the newly-elected Metropolitan Jonah. (For that matter, just go here and listen to everything.) You may recall that I heard him, back when he was still Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen), at the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius Conference back in June; missing a good chunk of his talk and being in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I lacked some of the necessary context to understand what he was saying, but the reaction of those who were in the OCA and who got to hear him from the beginning was palpable. His manner is, to me anyway, rather reminiscent of that of Bishop MARK; I will be interested to see if they ever have cause to work together on anything. The address linked to above is prophetic and visionary at the very least; now, as he himself says, they’ve got a lot of work to do. He, and all of the OCA, have my fervent prayers.

Graduate Application Tip of the Day: Turns out, at least at IU, a formal IU transcript doesn’t need to be ordered (read “paid for”) for an internal application. They can just access your record electronically. If your GRE scores are already part of your record, you don’t need to pay to have those sent, either. It would have been nice to know this the last, oh, three times I applied for grad programs here, but at this stage of the game, I’ll take what I can get. If you’re in a similar situation someplace, know that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I will wrap this up for the moment by noting two news items. First, I’m wondering, in response to this story, if perhaps somebody posted a sign saying “Free Orthodox Church.” Certainly, every time I see a sign for a “Free Methodist Church,” I think to myself, “Great, but where would I put it?”

Secondly — well, all I can say is that sometimes you can’t make this stuff up. I should go back and re-read William Gibson’s Neuromancer to see just how much stranger today’s reality of media and computers networks has become than the fantasy of twenty-some years ago.

Okay, back to waiting for these kids to finish their silly game of campyon.

Things you think about when you’re trying not to fall

This morning was the first frost in Bloomington, Indiana — or, at the very least, the first at our house. This is a relatively early first frost; I’m more accustomed to it staying hot until sometime in November, at some point during which God hits a switch and the temperature drops fifty degrees in a week. Given that my ancestors, centuries ago, were roaming the frozen wastes of Scandinavia wearing fur loincloths and swinging battleaxes, and that I’ve inherited their programming to stay perfectly comfortable in cold temperatures while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, as well as having to face the unpleasant corollary that above 75 degrees Fahrenheit I tend to be very uncomfortable no matter how little I’m wearing, I am very, very, very much okay with an early frost. The nice thing about cold weather is that you can always put more on. Hot weather… well, not so much. There’s only so much you can take off. (And trust me, you’re thankful for that — very very very thankful.)

What I emphatically don’t like is getting to the top step of my front porch on my way out to the car and realizing, in rapid succession, a) the first frost has arrived very much unannounced and b) I need to grab onto something very quickly. I am not one normally given to quoting John Mayer, but gravity, stay the hell away from me. Otherwise, I will be in repair (again).

For those who have asked — I do not, as of yet, have any information on the outcome of Fr. John Peck’s 16 October meeting with Metropolitan Gerasimos. All I know is that Fr. John is still listed here on the Prescott Orthodox Church website as the priest. Once I hear something I will post it (if I can).

A couple of links to pass along — Anna passed along the article “Keeping the End in View” by James R. Payton, Jr., over at Christianity Today. Prof. Payton, a Protestant, is also the author of Light From the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition, a book which I have not yet read myself, but I have heard Orthodox say that it is a better introduction to Orthodoxy than some books by Orthodox authors. (One hopes that he has less in common with Daniel Clendenin than with, say, Met. Kallistos Ware.) The article is an examination of the Orthodox Christian understanding of “theosis,” comparing it to how Protestants understand conversion, justification, and sanctification as “phases” of salvation. In general, Prof. Payton treats the Orthodox position quite favorably, but there are two points I’d like to mention.

In Orthodox teaching, “image” and “likeness” are not the same: the first is gift, the second, goal.

This is a matter of some imprecision; it’s not called “Orthodox teaching,” it’s called “the Greek language.” εἰκών and ὁμοίωσις are the words in question, and as even a cursory examination of their entries in either Liddell-Scott or BDAG shows pretty quickly, these are different words with related-but-different meanings, and authors do not use them interchangeably. This has nothing to do with “Orthodox teaching” except insofar as Orthodox teaching reflects how the Greek Fathers use the words. “Policy” and “law” are English words which have related but ultimately different meanings, for example. If a German author wrote that “In American politics, ‘law’ and ‘policy’ are not the same…” it would be a similar situation. It’s an issue of what the words mean, not an issue of how they’re treated by a particular group of people.

While evangelicals can learn from the Orthodox, it is fair to note that Orthodox believers can learn from us, too. The Eastern presentation of salvation can smudge the distinct steps of salvation. Justification and sanctification often get folded into the broader concept of theosis, and they become so blurred that Orthodox believers often don’t know what to make of the terms. They would be well served by an explanation of how the steps of salvation as presented in apostolic teaching fit into the larger package of divinization.

While appreciating Prof. Payton’s open-minded, open-armed approach and thus being willing to lay aside concerns about how patronizing this paragraph might be, I will suggest that he fails to mention that the issues he brings up are addressed by the participation of the Orthodox Christian in the sacramental life of the Church. I assume he knows this, and that this is a concept which probably will sail right over the heads of most CT readers, so I can understand why he doesn’t go there, but ultimately the picture he paints is misleading.

I would also direct your attention to the paper, “Approaching the Educated Person in the Post-Christian Era” by Abp. Lazar Puhalo (ret., OCA). I don’t necessarily agree with every point, but I think it’s worth reading and discussing. I might have more to say about it later.

Current reading: The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, by George H. Nash. Whether one agrees with everybody he describes or not, the story he tells is fascinating. I may have more to say about this later.

By the way, I’m considering participating in NaNoWriMo for purposes of finishing a first draft of a particular writing project of mine. I’m not sure I’d quite hit 50,000 words, but I’d have a draft finished finally, after four years of picking away at something.

I’ll wrap this up for now by saying that my application for West European Studies has been submitted, and that now it’s just a matter of my letters of recommendation rolling in. Hopefully I’ll know something soon. In the meantime, another option has come up in terms of a departmental home, and the person who suggested it did so unprompted. I don’t want to say much more about it for the time being. For right now I’ll just say that I’m flipping two coins, West European Studies and this other possibility, and we’ll see what comes up. Maybe both will come up heads, in which case I’m decidedly not opposed to leaving IU with more rather than less. Maybe both will come up tails, and I really will have to leave here with 30+ worthless graduate credits. We’ll see. Meanwhile, a near-annual conversation with a particular faculty member about said options has led to this person dubbing me a “professional applicant.” I suppose he/she isn’t wrong.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be prepared for the frost.

Price comparison shopping for Greek textbooks

So, as it works out, I’m taking Modern Greek this fall, and that’s it. I’ve canned further Syriac for the time being — frankly, it’s just tough to justify the time commitment at this point, since I was doing it to prepare for the path of further graduate study, and now that hardly seems likely to come to fruition. I’ve got enough Syriac at this point to be able to bash through texts I’m likely to run into with a dictionary and a grammar; for what I’m likely to need it for going forward — which is what, exactly? — that ought to be fine.

Modern Greek is a little easier to justify. There are people I know now with whom I could speak it. I still very much want to travel in that region, even if it probably isn’t going to be for the purpose of grant-funded research, and there are other reasons it could be useful — such as finding myself someplace where the only church is a Greek-language parish, maybe. (Using that as justification, I acknowledge that Russian, Arabic, and Romanian would also be a good plan from here.)

It also might make asking questions of His All-Holiness about his book a bit easier. (I still have never talked much about that, have I? I’ll have to get around to that someday.)

Anyway — today I ordered my Greek textbooks. The course is using Communicate in Greek by Kleanthis Arvanitakis and Froso Arvanitaki. Rather than just snatch them on a whim from the campus bookstore, I decided to do a little poking around online to see if that was actually going to be the best way to go. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Campus bookstore — $103.75 for the first year textbook, workbooks, and CD
  • Amazon.com — unavailable, for some unknown reason
  • Greece In Print — with shipping, $105.21 for the set
  • Direct from the Communicate in Greek website — $99.08 (approximately, since it’s actually priced in euros)

All more or less comparable. At this point it seemed like going direct from the website would be the best way to go — hey, four bucks is four bucks — but the tradeoff was going to be that they were shipping from Greece, and it would be difficult to know for sure that they’d arrive before 2 September.

Then I checked one more place — and as it worked out, Orthodox Marketplace had the whole set, with shipping, for $72.63.

That’s probably the one time it will ever cost less to order from there, but I’ll take it.

More on the alleged plurality of means by which one may remove flesh from a feline

So, I had a conversation a couple of days ago with one of the people who wrote letters of recommendation for me. This person wasn’t directly involved with the admission process, but had knowledge of what had happened, and was pretty up front with me about it. I wasn’t told anything I hadn’t already figured out, but this person remained encouraging, and had some concrete suggestions about better paths for me.

The bottom line seems to be this — there’s not really a way to make me look like a conventional applicant on paper. (Read this for what I’m talking about.) It’s one thing for faculty members to say, “Well, he doesn’t fit in this particular box, but he’s very capable, he’s a known quantity and has proven himself,” but when it comes down to having to make hard decisions, admissions committees have to look at me and say, “He may be capable and a known quantity, but he doesn’t fit into the same box as everybody else we’re admitting.” Without a liberal arts undergraduate degree, my application goes into a different pile than those who do, and that’s not the pile which makes it to the next round of cuts, regardless of my other qualifications. There was the hope on the part of those who supported me that I would be able to transcend these limitations, but sheer numbers did not allow for that.

As I said, this wasn’t anything I hadn’t already figured out. Two years ago I was told what ducks I needed to get in a row for grad school, but the person giving me this advice also said, quite bluntly, “Even then, if it’s somebody like me reading your application, you’re not going to have a lot of luck.” With a non-liberal arts background, plus the fact that within five seconds it becomes clear that it took me eleven years to finish a four year degree (i.e., I was a dropout), I was told, my letters of recommendation appear to be talking about a totally different person and can’t be seen as reliable. The person I was talking to on Tuesday told me that, unfortunately, all of that may be harsh, but it is not necessarily wrong, particularly when a humanities department is faced with more graduate applications than they’ve ever had before. “The reality is, we’re admitting people who have the option to turn us down to go to Princeton, Yale, Duke, and Columbia,” I was told. There is also the issue that my particular academic interests are generally more specifically addressed at religiously affiliated institutions, not big liberal arts universities. Being a “non-traditional applicant” combined with my interests being, in the long run, not the greatest fit in the world for how things are done here, and the work I’ve done over the last couple of years simply does not level the paper playing field.

So what will? In an ideal world, my interests would have been identified, encouraged, and fostered during my early teens, I suppose, but this isn’t what happened, and in the woeful absence of a Time-Turner, I must find a different path.

The suggestion which has come from a couple of people, including the person with whom I was speaking on Tuesday, is that I might be best served at this point by getting a Masters from an institution where that’s the highest degree they offer. In particular, an M.Th. from a seminary would likely be a great way for me to go. St. Vlad’s was brought up as being probably a great fit; I’ve mentioned that before as a possibility, so we’ll see. I’d have to do the M.A. before the M.Th., so we’re talking about 2-3 years to finish both, but I’d come out on the other end with a substantial piece of research (the M.Th. thesis is 100-200 pages), connections to some good places, presumably some very helpful letters of recommendation, and all of that within the context of concurrent and ongoing Orthodox spiritual formation. (I’m not going to get into the argument right now about whether or not St. Vladimir’s is “truly Orthodox.”) There’s something about that idea which is a little freaky to me — that is, my thesis advisor also potentially being my confessor — but there’s also something refreshing about the idea of being at an institution for a little while which would be the polar opposite of what I’ve been around for the last five years. All factors taken into account, it will likely be a couple of years before I can actively pursue that route, but it’s at least good to know that there are still possibilities for me.

Another concrete piece of advice I was given — and this is the kind of thing I wish I had heard two years ago — is, as alluded to earlier, that people with my interests generally go to religiously-affiliated institutions for their training, particularly Catholic institutions. Notre Dame, Catholic University, Fordham, etc. Not only that, but those are also the institutions where they typically wind up getting jobs. I was advised that this is the network which I need to be figuring out how to cultivate now, and that someplace like St. Vlad’s will do probably do more to make me competitive for PhD programs, and ultimately jobs, at those kinds of schools than anything else I could realistically do right now.

In the end, all is not lost, and nothing will have been wasted. There are, nonetheless, some concrete lessons I have learned over the last few years which I would like to pass on to whomever might find them valuable. I’m looking at having to spend my 30s doing what I should have done in my 20s, and that’s a substantial chunk of life to simply get pushed back ten years — don’t let this happen to you!

If there is anybody reading this, or who ever will read this, who might be considering dropping out of school…

DON’T.

I know the arguments. I made them all, twelve years ago. None of them are insuperable. Dropping out seemed like the only thing I could do at the time for all kinds of reasons, and maybe it was, but I nonetheless am still paying the price for that choice. A break in your transcript before the completion of a degree will always raise red flags for certain kinds of people in certain kinds of roles who are evaluating you for certain reasons — Just. Don’t. Do. It.

If your kid has any kind of a love of learning, reading, writing, in general thinking and synthesizing — This Is Not A Bad Thing. It’s not even an unpractical thing, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a perplexing thing. Cultivate it. Encourage it. Guide it. Provide a structure for it. There are jobs for people like them. They don’t have to be accountants or lawyers to make a living. They can go to grad school, if they do it right they can go to grad school without too much of a mountain of debt, and they can become academics. These are, in fact, “real jobs.” It’s also self-perpetuating to some extent — the more we cultivate this kind of thing in our kids, the more jobs there will be in the long run for people like that.

If you can have your kid learn a “dead language” when they’re thirteen — heck, when they’re six — do it. It’s going to be a lot easier for them then than it will be when they are 29, and it will open up new worlds to them and to you. Besides, the ability to learn another language is itself a discrete ability, and when you learn Latin or Greek you understand better why “practical” languages like French or Spanish are the way they are. You can learn French or Spanish without it, sure, but it’s sort of like learning music by ear vs. reading the notes. You have a more in-depth comprehension of how it’s working on several levels.

If you’re an atheist reading this, then feel free to ignore this paragraph, but help your kid cultivate a real, lasting faith to go with their intellectual curiosity. It’s the only thing that will put it in any kind of meaningful perspective. The alternative ultimately leads to nihilism.

If you’re struggling with any of these kinds of choices, drop me a line. Let me help. richardtenor (AT) gmail.com, richard_barrett (AT) mac.com, or rrbarret (AT) indiana.edu. Learn from my mistakes — it’ll help make them worth it.


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