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Dr. Mehan on Children’s Literature and Human Flourishing: Introducing the Handsome Little Cygnet

This week, we welcome back Dr. Matt Mehan, former Heights teacher and long-time contributor to The Forum. Among a host of other things, Matt has written on the liberal arts, spoken about politics and poetry, and shared the wisdom of Thomas More on handling bad news.

In this episode Dr. Mehan introduces us to The Handsome Little Cygnet, a delightful book about a Cygnet growing up in the heart of the big apple. Our fluffy hero, in turn, introduces us, his human counterparts, to concepts of nature, mercy, and regaining the way after it’s been lost. Parents, too, can see here an example of patience and optimism while guiding our cygnets towards flourishing, naturally.

Show Highlights 

  • The importance of children’s literature in education
  • How about the big apple? Why New York City is a fitting setting for the story
  • What Aristotle’s Poetics can teach us about education and politics
  • What’s in a title?
  • What is a Cygnet?
  • Beneath the surface: fishes and their deeper meaning
  • On mercy and parenting with optimism
  • Why we should be prudent about what art our children experience
  • How you can help change the culture

Suggested Reading

The Handsome Little Cygnet
Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals 

More on Mehan and Folley

About the Guest

Matt Mehan

Associate Dean & Assistant Professor of Government, Graduate School of Government, Hillsdale College
Dr. Matthew Mehan is the Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Government for the Steve and Amy Van Andel Graduate School of Government on Capitol Hill. He has been teaching and designing humanities curricula for twenty years. Dr. Mehan is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the valedictorian of his class. He received a B.A. in politics, ...
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