Very good news – we’ll be in NJ from June 28th until September 13th. Needless to say, I am so excited to have the chance to spend the whole summer with my family and friends. I’m looking forward to 4th of July fireworks in Philadelphia and eating NJ corn on the cob! More news: Matthias and I are tentatively planning to move back to Japan around Feb-March 2012. It’s too bad that my time in Germany will be so short, but I am very excited about going back to our beloved Japanese friends.

Recently, I have been giving a great deal of thought to my own education and how I would like our future children to be educated. I’ve been reading an interesting book called “The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had” by Susan Wise Bauer. Throughout the book, Bauer provides a very wide selection of books that one ought to read, and even though I majored in literature in college, I admit that I am not familiar with most of her recommendations. It leaves me a bit depressed (“some lame-o lit major I am“), but also hopeful because it’s never too late to swallow my pride and get reading. My only consolation is that I really didn’t like being a lit major…I should have majored in Spanish or library science, but that’s a whole different story altogether.

I really desire that our kids will read more of the great works of literature than I did. I recently came across a list of required reading at a rather academic university and was quite troubled to realize that I have not read any of these great works:

Social & Political Science:
Aristotle, Ethics and Politics
Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers
Hobbes, Leviathan
Locke, On Civil Government
Machiavelli, Prince
Marx, Das Capital or Communist Manifesto
Plato, Republic
Rousseau, Social Contract
Weber, Protestant Ethic

Epics

Dante, Divine Comedy
Homer, Iliad
Ovid, Metamorphoses
Spenser, Faerie Queene
Vergil, Aeneid

Novels
Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Oliver Twist
Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov
Goethe, Faust
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
James, The Portrait of a Lady
Kafka, The Trial
Melville, Moby Dick
Orwell, 1984
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Wright, Native Son

No, I have never read any of these books. I have never read “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “Moby Dick” or “Don Quixote.” I also have never read Aristotle, Hume, Kant, or Locke. Does that say something about me? My university? Education in the US public school system? Yes, it probably does and feel free to draw your own conclusions. I imagine that I am not alone in not having read most of these great works. In fact, I am almost sure I am not alone…the thing is, one doesn’t just pick up Plato or Goethe the way you pick up a juicy article in People magazine and zip through it in a matter of minutes. Bauer’s book really helps you realize what you need to do before you pick up these great works of literature and read them. My opinion is that the public school system prepares you to read at a certain level, but not for reading really deep, philosophical works in quite the same way. I have a feeling most people don’t have the mental training to be able to read Plato or Kant, nor the knowledge of history and philosophy to properly digest such works. For the average person, it’s not impossible to read these things, but it would take a lot of time and energy, which most people just don’t have. I am really hopeful that my thirties will be the decade I catch up on all the reading I should have done in my teens and college years. Here’s hoping!

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