Today is Day Two of reading Book 1 of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. It’s off to a great start. The students are learning how to read a dense text of a kind they haven’t read before.
Today, we read only five paragraphs. Even so, in a class of twelve (including me) everyone spoke. We decided we would least like to be Fronto:
From Fronto I learned to observe waht envy, and duplicity, and hypocrisy are in a tyrant, and that those among us who are called Patricians are rather deficient in paternal affection.
And we thought that the lesson of Alexander the Platonic was also useful to a ruler:
not frequently nor without necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, that I have no leisure; nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relation to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.
After this, I told the story of my own father’s career, which called him from the house long before I woke in the morning, and brought him home long after I had gone to sleep, for most of my childhood. All of my students looked startled at that, and it seems that I struck a nerve with many of them. The truth is, if you can afford to send your kids to a school like mine, you probably make a lot of money, and you probably work very hard to keep it.
Yet here was a world leader writing a reminder to himself to spend time with his family and to take time for leisure despite the cares and urgent duties of his life.
Homework: Pick five sentences, and the five pieces of advice that you feel are most important. Write two sentences responding to this idea: why you think it’s important or why it’s worthy of inclusion.
For a variety of reasons, I forgot to collect the homework. I’m building the routine at the start of my class, and I forgot to do that part of it. Monday, I’ll have to remember.