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Classical Education

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Aly Taylor

on 29 July 2016

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Transcript of Classical Education

Classical Education
for the Modern Student

WWII and the call for educational reform
Einstein agrees that science furnishes only means, not ends:

"What hopes and fears does the scientific method imply for mankind? I do not think that is the right way to put the question. Whatever this tool in the hands of man will produce depends entirely on the nature of the goals alive in this mankind. Once these goals exist, the scientific method furnishes means to realize them. Yet it cannot furnish the very goals. . ."
Today's Trivium
1981: Classical school opens in Moscow, Idaho
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning
is published

Today: "classical" private schools, Catholic schools, and charter schools

More than 70 classical schools in Texas alone

Scores outperform public schools, religious schools, and non-sectarian private schools
The beginning
of the end
of classical ed
General calls for educational reform:
I. L. Kandel, The Impact of the War upon American Education (1948)

C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

W. H. Auden, "Vocation and Society" Swarthmore Address (1943)

Mortimer Adler, U of Chicago

Jaques Maritain, "Education at the Crossroads" (1943)
Dorothy Sayers' address at Oxford:
"The Lost Tools of Learning" (1947)


Giambattista Vico (1668-1744)
Classical ed in the headlines
although I have degrees from two Ivy league schools and have taught at U.C. Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Duke, Classical High School (in Providence, RI) is the best and most demanding educational institution I have ever been associated with.
The name tells the story. When I attended, offerings and requirements included four years of Latin, three years of French, two years of German, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, English, history, civics, in addition to extra-curricular activities, and clubs — French Club, Latin Club, German Club, Science Club, among many others. A student body made up of the
children of immigrants or first generation Americans; many, like me, the first in their families to finish high school. Nearly a 100 percent college attendance rate.
A yearbook that featured student translations from Virgil and original poems in Latin. Sounds downright antediluvian, outmoded, narrow and elitist, and maybe it was (and is; the curriculum’s still there, with some additions like Japanese)…”

Turn from the liberal to the practical arts
Horace Mann:
"Father of the Common School Movement"
John Dewey:
"New Education" for democracy
Sees Francis Bacon's new vision as a departure from the ancient classical tradition;
the new sciences offer precision, certainty, and clarity but neglect human nature
Distinctives of "Neo-classical" ed
Classical languages
(Latin and/or Greek)
"Great Books"
Odd curriculum
* progymnasmata

* imitation

* copious memorization and recitation

* year-by-year history cycles (Egypt, Greece and Rome, Middle Ages and Renaissance, Modern world)
The trivium as stages
Grammar school --
build a framework of facts (memorization, recitation)

Logic school --
learn how the facts fit together (debates, formal and informal logic)

Rhetoric school --
build upon those ideas and articulate them winsomely
Developmental psychology
Also parallel to Gardiner's triad:
* "intuitive learner"
* "scholastic learner"
* "disciplinary expert"
Almost half of our English vocabulary borrows Latin roots
80% of Romance languages are made up of Latin roots
Think "The List" in E.D. Hirsch's
Cultural Literacy
Link between knowing and doing (a.k.a. virtue)
terms commonly used: "wisdom and virtue,"
"the true, the good, and the beautiful"

marriage of Greek ideal of
(wisdom) with Roman ideal of civic

Classical, not religious. The classical virtues are fortitude, temperance, prudence, and justice.
Dewey actually uses this triad of transcendentals in his Pedagogic Creed:
"I believe that... if we can only secure right habits of action and thought, with reference to the good, the true, and the beautiful, the emotions will for the most part take care of themselves."
John Locke:
Learn by play; "what a noise [Latin] makes to no purpose"
Follow the child
Locke: "The great business of all is virtue and wisdom."
Full transcript