Tag Archives: Mark Bauerlein


George Dunlap, March 31, 2020. So what are you doing with your time, during the pandemic, with your children? Video games, all day Netflix shows; how about reading or better yet…see below. This is a classic approach to what is needed in our Catholic homes during this most interesting crisis. This pandemic will pass but will we has adults use it to develop better citizens and more… faithful Catholics?

by Mark Bauerlein, March 31, 2020 from First Things

Okay, First Things parents. Those of you with adolescent boys at home—you need help. So do I.

No matter how energetic and vigilant the teachers are in this time of seclusion, hours at home can’t replicate the classroom. As soon as the online assignment is finished, once the streaming lecture is over, the boys drift back to the iPhone for games and peer banter and pictures. The atmosphere of the school disappears. Instead, boys are back in their private spaces (and virtual social spaces), wherein books and knowledge are negligible matters.

You have been thrust into the role of part-time homeschooler with little warning, and you need better tactics than the bare confiscation of that demonic device. By all means, take the tool away, but give it back after the boys have done their daily work for school and spent some time with the syllabus you have fashioned as a supplement to it.

In the area of history, have them watch episodes of Appointment with Destiny, a short-lived series from 50 years ago that 14-year-old boys will love. There are only a half-dozen entries in the series, each one a documentary-style recreation of a fateful moment in time. One episode dramatizes Cortes and Montezuma, another one the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. There are reconstructions of Appomattox, the hunt for John Dillinger, the attempted assassination of Hitler. Lorne Greene narrates some, Rod Serling others. Historical figures speak to the camera as if they are on 60 Minutes. Historical settings, clothing, speech, and actions are reproduced with vivid fidelity. Check out one episode here.

In the area of music, let’s introduce them to the classical tradition with an engaging battery of lectures by Leonard Bernstein. The site is Harvard University, the time 1973. Bernstein was in residence at Harvard for a year, savoring the academic climate and ending up idolized by the students. He had to give six public lectures, which he devoted to music theory from Mozart to Stravinsky, using Noam Chomsky’s linguistics as a conceptual frame. He sits at the piano explaining what happened with Beethoven et al., then turns to the piano to illustrate the point. Occasionally, the lecture breaks away to a film of Bernstein conducting the Boston Orchestra in the symphonic pieces he is discussing—such as Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. Some of the theory will go over the heads of younger teens, but Bernstein’s winning manner and the brilliance of the examples he plays on the piano make everything clear. Here is the lecture on the Romantics.

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