After careful review, the votes have been tallied… Congrats to CORBIN! Corbin is the winner of the 2011 Spring Caterpillars for Corgis. 
The two runner ups goes to William and Zoey Pancakes! Congrats to all corgis!
DEAREST CORGI SPRING CONTEST WINNERS — please email me (corgiaddict @ your name and address to which you would like your winning caterpillars sent to! 



After careful review, the votes have been tallied… Congrats to CORBIN! Corbin is the winner of the 2011 Spring Caterpillars for Corgis. 

The two runner ups goes to William and Zoey Pancakes! Congrats to all corgis!

DEAREST CORGI SPRING CONTEST WINNERS — please email me (corgiaddict @ your name and address to which you would like your winning caterpillars sent to! 


(Source: )

Woohoo, trophies!

Woohoo, trophies!

Last day of coaching:

Uhhh, not really sure about what to say regarding today’s coaching.  We accomplished some things but the students were really hyper at times and it was difficult to calm them down.  The kids did seem more focused without the other three students who were cut, though.

So we started off by having the students read tongue twisters.  While they were doing that the coaches tried to correct their pronunciation and instructed them to speak slowly and clearly.  After that we had a mock debate but didn’t get to finish. 

The research is definitely a big issue; the kids don’t research enough and it shouldn’t be the coach’s responsibility to make research packets for them since it makes them lazy and unmotivated.  Harley is right in saying that it is not our job to teach them how to research, it’s the school’s.  Hopefully the students will improve on this in the future.

Once again I don’t think the students are ready research-wise but I’m sure they’ll come through during the tournament.  I will miss them when this is all over and done with because they make me laugh harder than most people I know and to see how much they’ve improved throughout the semester is a great feeling.

More on Phaedrus:

I think Phaedrus is the most challenging dialogue that we have encountered so far.  The myths were difficult to read through since I’ve never heard of any of them, but they were interesting.  What I really liked was the analogy of the soul to be “the natural union of a team of winged horses and their charioteer” where the charioteer is trying to control the left horse, which is bad, and the right horse, which is good (246a).  It is also interesting to relate this to Socrates’ two speeches about love since love is the fourth kind of madness, where the first speech is related to the left side of madness (bad) and the second speech to the right side (good).  To apply this to the lover and his boy, Socrates says that if they both practice self-control, they will be able to grow wings after death and thus follow the path of philosophy.  As for the nine souls, it’s not surprising to me that Socrates would claim that philosophers are closer to the divine than other humans…not surprising at all, so I can agree with Jon in saying that Socrates hopes to convert Phaedrus into a philosopher.

In the discussion about rhetoric, Socrates basically concludes that a great rhetorician must be able to persuade all types of souls justly and effectively.  To do this, the rhetorician needs to first understand his own soul and Socrates makes it seem like only a philosopher would be able to achieve practice of the true art of rhetoric.  This is an incredible task to carry out, and even Socrates admits that he has not perfected the art of speaking.  This also reminds me of reading Quintilian, when I thought his idea of a perfect orator wasn’t feasible either.  When writing is concerned, it appears to be less important than discourse since writing cannot defend itself and relies solely on the writer.  And haha @ Maggie’s “Plato closes this work with a dismissal of the value of written discourse, seeing as “Phaedrus” itself is written discourse! Silly Plato…?”  Silly Plato perhaps, but I also agree that Plato may be trying to guide the readers into finding true knowledge on their own, which is more fulfilling than having the answers given to them.

If I were to choose something from this dialogue that would be applicable to our coaching, I would say that the students could try to understand the nature of the judges’ souls as judges and plan their speeches accordingly.  For instance, we know what the judges are looking for and what they are grading on, thus we can relay this information to our students and better their debate skills.

Love & Friendship | Phaedrus & Rhetoric:

Phaedrus was kind of irritating to read.  Lysias’ speech gives multiple arguments against love such as the lover will regret doing favors once his desire has subsided (231a), the lover will treat past lovers bad once he moves on to someone else (231c), and other such things.  Socrates criticizes the speech and argues that Lysias is more concerned with style than content, stating that Lysias “said the same things two or even three times, as if he really didn’t have much to say about the subject” (235a) which I completely agree with because I felt like I was reading the same things over and over.  Socrates then gives his own speech favoring the non-lover and emphasizes the importance of understanding the true nature of a particular subject. He claims that love is some kind of desire but there are also men who are not in love but desire the beautiful, thus in order to differentiate them, one must realize the two principles that rule men:  the inborn desire for pleasures and their acquired judgment that pursues what is best (237d). 

Socrates’ speech portrays the lover as some sort of sick-minded person who takes pleasure in people who are weaker than him, therefore he is “always employed in reducing his lover to inferiority.”  The lover will delight in the mental defects of his boy and the lover’s jealousy “will debar his beloved from the advantages of society which would make a man of him, and especially from that society which would have given him wisdom, and thereby he cannot fail to do him great harm.”  The lover “desires above all things to deprive his beloved of his dearest and best and holiest possessions, father, mother, kindred, friends, of all whom he thinks may be hinderers or reprovers of their most sweet converse” so that the lover can enjoy the boy longer.  Lastly, Socrates claims that lovers befriend a boy in the way that wolves love lambs.  This all seems pretty sick to me, so Socrates does a good job of portraying the lover as a controlling, jealous, and evil person.  

Then Socrates gets a divine sign that makes him realize that both his and Lysias’ speeches are offensive because “if Love is a god or something divine-which he is-he can’t be bad in any way” (242d).  I agree with this in that I do not regard the situations described in Lyias and Socrates’ speeches as having anything to do with real love.  I see true love as having nothing to do with harm or perverted actions like trying to make your lover inferior to you and trying to implant mental defects in him if he doesn’t have any.  The type of person described in Socrates’ speech shouldn’t be considered a lover, but perhaps just a freak.

I don’t favor the lover over the non-lover or the opposite; both have their advantages and disadvantages.  As for the principle of our acquired judgments that pursues what is best and the discussion in class about choosing utility over romantic love, I wouldn’t just choose lovers based on utility.  If that were the case, I’d just seduce and marry some rich dude and be set for the rest of my life but I have no desire to do that.  I can understand how romantic love may cause irrationality in people but how can you be happy through just a relationship of utility?  That isn’t what love is, at least according to my beliefs, and I think we’re all for the most part (fortunately) living in a society where we can choose our lovers not based on how much money they have or what they can give us, but based on their personality and how they relate to us.

As for Aristotle’s Rhetoric Book II Chapter 1, he states that there are three aspects that inspire confidence in the orator’s character:  good sense, good moral character, and goodwill (1378a).  In Chapter 4, he revisits friendship and also writes about enmity.  Aristotle differentiates friendship from friendly feeling by defining friendly feeling as “feelings towards any one as wishing for him what you believe to be good things, not for your own sake but for his, and being inclined, so far as you can, to bring these things about” (1381a).  He then differentiates anger from hatred, saying “anger is always concerned with individuals whereas hatred is directed also against classes; anger can be cured by time but hatred cannot; anger is accompanied by pain, hatred is not” (1382a).  I disagree that hatred is not accompanied by pain though, I think that it can be.

On Friendship:

Aristotle regards friendship as an important aspect of life, stating that “it is a virtue or implies virtue,” and thus devotes Book VIII to defining and categorizing it.  He first writes about how good and useful friendship is, claiming, “for without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods” (1155a) and, “the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.”  For people to be friends, “they must be mutually recognized as bearing goodwill and wishing well to each other” (1156a). 

There are three types of friendships:  an incidental friendship based on utility where the people love for the sake of what is good for themselves; a pleasurable friendship where the people are drawn to each other’s physical qualities, etc.; and “the perfect friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue” (1156b).  Therefore, according to Aristotle, the ideal, lasting friendship is between good men who wish well alike to each other quo good, and they are good in themselves.  Then he writes about the in-equal friendship between relationships such as the father and son, husband and wife, or ruler to subject and ends with a little discussion of justice.  “Friendship and justice seem to be concerned with the same objects and exhibited between the same persons.  For friendship depends on community” (1160a). 

There is not much that I find shocking or unusual in this piece. I agree that friendship is something that is good and is useful, and that the perfect friendship is hard to find.  The category of friendship that involves utility definitely seems to be more common once one gets older. 

I can also sympathize with Jon and Maggie’s posts in that it does seem like Aristotle’s ideas are conveyed in the same ways, and I don’t understand the contradiction regarding friendship as an external good either.  I can see how the ‘utility’ friendship could be used as an instrument but can we group that in the same category as the “perfect friendship of men who are good”? 

This week’s coaching:

The students were incredibly distracted, loud, and difficult to work with today.  It took us a while to get them settled down and the rest of the time wasn’t too enjoyable.  We wanted to start off with a mock debate but the kids were being too rowdy for that, so we split them up into three groups and did speaking exercises. 

When the students left, we decided to stay and work out a solution to the misbehaving problem.  We all agreed to take three students off of the team for bad behavior and Mrs. Brewster seemed more than happy to assist us.  Hopefully this will enable the class to focus better so we can get more things accomplished.  Since we coaches will only have one more session with the students before the tournament, we decided to try and incorporate more mock debates because the students’ speaking abilities are more of a priority right now. 

On Laches & NE Book 3:

Laches begins with Lysimachus stating that he and his friend Melesias wish to ask the generals Nicias and Laches advice on “what form of instruction or practice” would make their sons turn out best.  Lysimachus had heard that it would be good for a boy to learn how to fight in armor so he asks Nicias and Laches for help since they were both great generals who were probably knowledgeable about bravery and honor, and thus could help them plant these virtues into their children.  Laches makes the suggestion of asking Socrates’ for help (we didn’t see that one coming…) and Lysimachus asks Socrates, “Is fighting in armor a useful subject for young men to learn or not?”  Socrates answers in his typical manner by claiming that he wants to help them as much as he can, but he is too young and inexperienced to know much about this matter, so he lets Nicias and Laches speak first about the subject.  The conversation takes a turn from debating fighting in armor to what constitutes courage and knowledge.  Socrates claims that it is important to “first of all investigate whether any one of us is an expert in the subject we are debating and if one of us is, then we should listen to him even if he is only one, and disregard the others” (185) because this method is better than following the majority, which are two good points that I agree with.  However, none of the men appear to be experts in the subject that they are debating.  Towards the end of this section Nicias seems to get very irritated towards Socrates, saying that whoever associates with him in conversations ends up being drawn off topic and confused, a statement that I think many of my classmates would probably agree with.

Socrates then argues that the nature of that thing must be decided, such as if we did not know the nature of sight, we cannot go giving someone advice about the health of their eyes.  In this case, the men have to define the nature of virtue and how it pertains to courage.  Laches first defines it as an endurance of the soul but then later refines it to only the wise endurance of the soul.  Socrates discredits this by stating that courage is not only the wise endurance of the soul, and rather foolish endurance is much more courageous.  As a result Laches seems pretty discouraged from failing at defining courage when he himself is a warrior…poor guy.  When it’s Nicias’ turn to define courage, he declares that all courageous men are wise and “courage is the knowledge that which inspires fear or confidence in war or anything.”  But Socrates refutes this definition as well by saying it is too concerned with the future.

And of course the dialogue ends with neither man being able to successfully define virtue or courage, and Laches actually suggests that they all go back to school to learn the meaning.  While I can understand how someone could get irritated with these types of endings to the dialogues, I can agree with Maggie in that they are useful for stirring up thoughts about virtue, which is definitely worth thinking about.  Besides, having the facts handed to you all the time is kind of boring.  I also found this dialogue more enjoyable to read because Socrates has more than one person conversing with him, and those people aren’t afraid to criticize his ways of speaking.  It definitely makes for a more interesting discourse.

In Book III Chapters 6-9, we get Aristotle’s views on courage, which seems to be a response to fear.  He describes the usual evils that one fears but also notes that in some cases it is right and noble to be afraid, such as one should be afraid of shaming one’s family.  So courage doesn’t mean fearlessness, instead it refers to being confident when faced with fearful situations; “courage is a mean with respect to things that inspire confidence or fear, in the circumstances that have been stated; and it chooses or endures things because it is noble to do so, or because it is base to do so” (1116).  Aristotle also lists five different types of people that are mistaken to possess courage and ends the discussion of courage by stating that “courage involves pain, and is justly praised; for it is harder to face what is painful than to abstain from what is pleasant” (1117b).  Therefore courage according to Aristotle is a noble and admirable virtue.

I am still not sure how to define courage as something which pertains to all things, like Socrates suggested, so I’m curious to know how my classmates would define it.

On Seneca:

People who always complain that life is too short should read this, being that Seneca’s main point throughout the whole work is that “it is not that we have a short time to live, but we waste a lot of it” (1).  To give evidence of this, he claims that people waste life by being greedy, doing useless tasks, becoming alcoholics, lusting, being lazy, and spending too much time in politics, the trade business, or the army.  Thus by busying themselves with these matters, or by being overwhelmed and rooted in their desires, people are inevitably “dying prematurely.” He also says that life will not only be short, but also miserable “for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil” (28).  (More money, more problems?)  Seneca’s solution to this is to live immediately, and “match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it” (14).   He also mentions that one should take time for oneself so that he will be able to study “the love and practice of the virtues, forgetfulness of the passions, the knowledge of how to live and die, and a life of deep tranquility” (31). 

I do agree with Seneca’s statement that life is long enough, but many of the things that he instructs one to do in order to live life well are not very realistic.  I can also understand where Steven is coming from about Seneca being selfish.  Seneca says the “state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations, but must regulate their sleep by another’s, and their walk by another’s pace, and obey orders in those freest of all things, loving and hating” (31), but who can live a normal life without being preoccupied by their own desires or by someone else’s?  And we will all have to do something that we don’t want to.  In that case, are we all wretched? 

Coaching Week 4:

I agree with Jon in saying that today’s coaching session went really well.  Danielle came up with the idea of writing down the topics, both proposition and opposition, onto little pieces of paper and putting them into a hat for the students to draw.  Whatever the topic the student drew, he/she had to talk about it for two minutes in front of the whole class, then the coaches and the students would comment on what the person did well and needed improvement on.  Every kid got to go (which was awesome).  It was hard to get a few of them up there to talk but at least they did it and I’m sure they felt accomplished doing so.

We decided to redo the research packets and think up a better way to distribute the candy because the kids get really distracted.  For instance, we were in the middle of a student talking about a topic when Beau walked in with a bag of candy and a kid screamed, “CANDY MAN!!!” and everyone started laughing.

I also want to add that these kids are pretty hilarious.  I know that as coaches we have to try and keep them focused but a lot of times it’s REALLY hard for me to keep from laughing.  For the opposition on “The Saints are the best team in the NFL,” Myles was going on and on about how the fans used to have to wear Kroger bags over their heads.  Good stuff.

A lot of the students said that they weren’t nervous about Saturday’s debate and are ready.  I guess we’ll seeeeeeeeee.