I’m starting to understand why, in Plato’s Academy, a sign hung over the entrance to the Temple of the Muses which read, “Let none but geometers enter here.”
I spent the morning studying kindergarten-level geometry with Aria, my third born:
“Which of these shapes has no angles?”
“Them all have angows.”
“What about this circle?”
“It has teeny-tiny angows that you can’t see because them so small.”
“Actually, a circle has no angles.”
“Mom. Mom. You just can’t see them. Yo eyes are too old.”
On we go, and a lesson which I had planned to last five minutes lasted two hours, discussing—debating?—the intangible ideas of two dimensional space. There were more than a few questions she asked to which my only answer was “it just is...” or, “because I’m an adult and this is something I know...” and, “I can’t prove it, but I know somebody out there can.”
I’m reminded of this quote by Dr. Dennis Quinn who perfectly describes the difference between me and my 5 year old daughter:
“... the Muses educate beginners, amateurs, those who seek understanding for the love of it, rather than for the prospect of gain, as is so common among the career oriented. At the university we call the beginners freshman, who are capable of hearing the song of the Muses because they present life fresh, as if experienced for the first time.
In philosophy Socrates is the great beginner, the perennial freshman, who never lost his amateur status and who insisted that philosophy is nothing more than what the word means literally, the love of wisdom. The sophomore, the sophisticate, and the Sophists have in common the claim of possessing wisdom.” (Excerpt from “The Muses as Pedagogues of the Liberal Arts”)
Mamas, discussing the existence of invisible angels—I mean angles—is listening for the Song of the Muses with your child.
The great privilege we have as home educators is to have our young children teach us how to hear that song. The relationship between geometry and faith is stronger than you think. A conversation about the parts of a shape could just as easily be about the parts of their soul. Kids have no problem assuming that something is both invisible and absolutely real. It’s us adults with “old eyes” who have forgotten how to see.