Monday, July 31, 2006


Mr. and Mrs. Darwin Catholic have a list going of the things you should know by the time you're eighteen. Some of these things aren't going to happen for the Opinionated Offspringen, and a few seem pretty specific to Catholics (a Protestant kid doesn't need to have read St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, and I think Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is more important for everyone), but many are worth making sure your kids can do before they leave the nest. Here's some additions Eudoxus and I have thrown together. Feel free to submit your own, here or at the Darwins' site.

-Know the Greek alphabet well enough to sound out a Greek word inserted in an English text
-Ditto Arabic (not all that hard)
-Have a basic familiarity with Aquinas: have read about a dozen of the questions, including the “Five Ways,” and understand how his “sed contra” structure works
-Read some basic Aristotle before tackling Aquinas: at least the Nichomachean Ethics and the section on the four causes in the Physics.
-Be proficient at math through basic calculus.
-Read Chaucer in the Middle English: The General Prologue and two or three of the major tales
-See Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Also Sherlock Jr., Bringing Up Baby
-Know the rules of decorum for visitors to Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches, synagogues, mosques, and Hindu and Buddhist temples.
-Have participated in the care of an infant, and an elderly and/or very sick person.
-Have programmed some in any language, just to have an idea how a program works
-Be familiar with Milton (Paradise Lost, Areopagitica), Blake, Shelley, Donne, and Emily Dickinson.
-Know how to deal with an aggressive dog.
-Know the locations of all of the nations of the world. (Yes, all. At least know immediately which continent the minor ones are in.)
-Know the rules of football, baseball, and poker (even if you don’t play).

Special for Catholics (because I'm endlessly distressed by the number of practicing Catholics who don't have this stuff by adulthood):

-Be familiar with the parts of the mass and the names for the different parts/prayers: e.g. the Sanctus, the Roman Canon, the Preface, etc.
-Know all the people's prayers by heart, and what gestures ought to be made when.
-Know how to take Communion on the tongue: Even if you think you'll always receive in the hand, someday you'll find yourself in a foreign country (like southern New Mexico), or a traditionalist church, or with a sleeping toddler slung over your shoulder, and suddenly realize you need to receive the old-fashioned way.
-Know by heart the Our Father; the Hail Mary; the Angelus; the Hail Holy Queen; the Confiteor; short acts of faith, hope, and charity; the St. Michael prayer; the prayer for the dead; the Te Deum; and how to pray the rosary (be in the habit of praying it, too).
-Know the 10 Commandments, the 7 sacraments, and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
-Have read The Imitation of Christ, the Fioretti, and The Story of a Soul, as well as your Bible and most of the Catechism.


Blogger Darwin said...

I confess a clear case of prejudice on Pilgrim's Progress. I did actually read it before eighteen, but I found it rather dull. Didn't even come into my head when writing the list... I suppose that is appaulingly Catholocentric of me.

I can't believe I forgot Aquinas. I'd been thinking about what sections one should read, but then failed to put anything down.

I suppose you're right too on Aristotle, though I found him very hard going in high school, and didn't really get any of it till I tried again with rather more guidance in college.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should know how to give blood. Last time I gave, my phlebotomist told me about how, on her 17th birthday, her mom took her to breakfast, and then they both went to give blood. It's a good thing to know how to do, just so you aren't scared of it.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

very interesting list!

12:28 PM  
Anonymous amy said...

I sure wish I had learned to operate a stick shift back when I was learning to drive. It would have made our trip to Europe much easier.

I am just now getting around to The Imitation of Christ, though I do intend to share this gem with my children. As is the case with most literature, I surely appreciate Thomas a Kempis more now than I would have at eighteen, having grown a bit in the humbling virtue of self-knowledge.

A Kempis writes this gentle reminder for all of us ambitious homeschoolers, "The humble knowledge of oneself is a surer way to God than progfound learning.
Yet learning or any simple knowledge is not to be censured, because it is good in itself and ordained by God; but a good conscience and a virtuous life are always to be preferred.
Truly, when the Day of Judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done."

8:11 AM  

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