In Common – December 1st, 2019

This weekend I finished reading How to Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer Adler. As a follow-up to How to Read a Book, this book didn’t disappoint. It focused on speaking and listening and the various types of exchanges involving the two – exchanges that are predominantly one-sided such as lectures and speeches and those involving both, such as forums, seminars and of course, conversations.

Without continued learning throughout all the years of one’s adult life, no one can become a truly educated person, no matter how good the individual’s schooling has been. (How to Speak, How to Listen, p. 197)

Adler, while detailing the most effective forms of intellectual exchanges, also offered practical advice – advice that is very much applicable today.

Most important of all,  never engage in the discussion of a problem with someone you know in advance has a closed mind on that subject. When you know that someone is unpersuadable, don’t try to persuade him. When you know that someone is incorrigibly convinced about the truth of this or that position, don’t try to change his mind by discussing the question or issue on which he has resolutely and irremediably committed himself to one answer or taken one side. He will remain deaf to all arguments for another answer to the question or another side of the issue. (How to Speak, How to Listen, p. 142)

I also finished Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull. Recommended by Sally and Clay Clarkson in Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, this has been an excellent reading. Thirty short chapters address a variety of parenting topics, from such as honoring a child’s individuality, training a child’s faith  and the place of sympathy in child training. Originally published in 1890, one might expect this book to be dated, but the issues the author addresses regarding children are timeless. Near the end of the book, Trumbull addresses the importance of the home atmosphere:

In view of the importance of the home atmosphere, parents ought to recognize their responsibility for the atmosphere of the home they make and control. It is not enough for parents to have a lofty ideal for their children, and to instruct and train those children in the direction of that ideal. They must see to it that the atmosphere of their home is such as to foster and develop in their children those traits of character which their loftiest ideal embodies. (Hints on Child Training, p. 157)

I’ve spent the weekend wrapping up several books, trying to get to the end of 2019 meeting my goal of 60 books read. Some of my longer-term reads may have to go into 2020, the remainder of my Current Reads stacks I am planning to tackle over the next couple of weeks. I’ve made the tough decision to not add any new books to my pile so I can clear my stack and be ready for the new year. And putting together my reading plan for the new year is so much fun!

Current Reads

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