When asked what my favorite new book on education is I only have one answer: Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the Word. I just love it so much (said in my best Holly Hunter accent). I love it so much I am rereading and blogging through it this summer. Nine posts in and I am only part way through Chapter 2.
Modern Christian and Classical education has been highly influenced by Dorothy Sayers’ essay "The Lost Tools of Learning". Sayers is one of my favorite writers and I have nothing against her essay except that I wish some people hadn’t read it. What has been done in the name of Grammar is shameful.
Caldecott throws us a line and saves us from drowning in our own modernity because that is where the trouble comes from, doesn’t it? Sayers tries to describe something medieval to an audience who has been severed from the past. We have no way of understanding the medieval mind. We have Google. Dorothy is as incomprehensible to us as the Southern Agrarians who we don't understand because we have no past. All we have is a vast technology stretched before us.
Enter Stratford Caldecott. In one deft stroke of the pen Caldecott reimagines grammar as Remembering. The stars align, the picture comes into focus; we are free:
"Memory, then, is the mother both of language and of civilization. This is what gives us our link between Remembering and language."
What does Caldecott mean by "remembering"? It is not a vapor, although we have to think hard to understand exactly what he means. He says, "The ideas are in us, or we could not recognize them." Remembering is bound irrevocably to truth and because of that love.