Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting Classically Lost

Hi! My name is Jen, and I often get lost when driving in new or unfamiliar areas. 

If you're wondering if you clicked on the wrong blog, it may help to know that I'm also a graduate of Classical Conversations (in 2004) and a recent college grad. One of the things I'm doing with my "gap year" before graduate school is writing and editing for CC, including moderating and helping with the general upkeep of Leigh's blog. Today, that includes writing this post and having a little fun with my own propensity for getting lost.

Although I read and edit a lot of documents about the classical model, I sometimes have trouble wrapping my brain around what it looks like in everyday life.

Then I went for a drive downtown. 

I needed to turn left to get to my destination. Unfortunately, the street was a one-way, and it was going the other direction. So I did what every smart driver does: I kept going. Three turns later, voila! I was lost.

I noticed something. After twenty minutes of making random turns and passing the same intersections, I started to recognize the road names. I could predict that Second Street would always be a one-way east, and Main Street and Broad Street would travel parallel to each other. So, I reasoned, if Second Street crosses Main Street, it probably also crosses Broad Street. A few more times around the block and a few experiments later, I arrived at my destination. A week later, I met a friend downtown, and I was able to give her directions, even when she got lost. 

The next time I was reading about the classical model, I realized I had been practicing it inadvertently. 

First, I had to learn the basic grammar of the downtown area. I did that by driving around (repetition) until I memorized the names and directional orientation of the streets. 

Next, I had to logically (or dialectically) connect the facts... "If this street goes west, then it will connect with this street"... I practiced manipulating the facts I had memorized to create different patterns and conclusions.

Finally, I had to use my knowledge (using rhetoric). I got to my destination, and then gave someone else directions so they could do the same. 

If you are like me, you may not be conscious of learning new things every day. Taking a step back to notice how much information your brain is absorbing is a great reminder that everyday events can be classical opportunities too. 

From time to time, I'll drop back in at 1 Smart Mama to share the classical moments in my everyday life. I'd love it if you would share your stories as well! 

~Jen

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