Skip to comments.What is a "Classical" Education?
Posted on 09/10/2020 2:19:34 PM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege
Classical education is education; everything else is a modification of the normal.
Almost all American educational methods trace their origins to the splendid combination of Athens and Jerusalem. The result of Greek philosophy and Jewish revelation is the incarnation of education in Christendom: fully human and fully divine.
There is nothing wrong with modifying a workable system, but good to know the nature of the system one is modifying. You cannot fix the operating system if you do not the language of the program. Here are the basic parameters of all real education.
A classical education is Socratic: it begins in questions and ends in wonder. The pattern of education is in the very structure of the Republic and the life of Jesus. First, the upturning of his assumptions will bewilder the student. Second, the student will hypothesize about new solutions to his problems. Third, the student will enter into a community that will produce a world view that will allow him to live a good life. Finally, the community discovers a divine story that confirms and broadens what reason has taught.
Jesus lived this educational program and it is summarized in his discussion with His disciples in the gospel according to Saint Luke (24: 13-35). Two disciples were walking to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. They were crushed that Jesus had disappointed their expectations that He was the Messiah. Jesus came to speak to them, the very answer to their felt pain, but hid Himself from them. He wanted to educate them not just placate these men. He bewildered them with questions. They heard his teachings, listened, learned, and finally saw Jesus in communion with Him over a meal.
Socratic education would be called the road to Emmaus if we were bolder as believers.
A classical education starts with texts: books, music, film, art, or any human artifact. Education is Socratic, but uses the best of the arts for the material needed for discussion. A good education could begin in any type of text, but it is easier when it begins with excellence.
Beauty is critical to education, because beauty is good. The classically educated student bathes in beauty and so his discussion has hope. The use of beautiful texts allows the dead, those separated from us by the severe divine mercy of death, to speak. If the world was as God made it, then we could ask Eve for wisdom and Noah for truth, but we are isolated in our particular time by death. Texts allow the dead to speak to us without any use of occult powers and break down our chronological loneliness.
We hear Homer in his poetry, argue with him after we learn to love him, and then ask God to help us.
A classical education makes a place for the lecture, but centers on the tutorial. A great lecture is a work of art and so can provoke thought and discussion, but a lecture is for the discussion, not the discussion for the lecture.
A well-done lecture is a kind of text and it would be a pity to miss this art form. Still, life is short and nobody has time to learn to love every art form. The danger of any class that centers on a particular skill of the teacher is guru-ism. Christians have a messiah and His name is Jesus, the Christ. No teacher must take that role. Saint Paul could ask men to do as he did, but only because Saint Paul followed Jesus. Only the Lord Jesus could command that people become as He is.
A classical education stresses the equality of the teacher and the student as human beings, fallen and yet having the divine image. A classical education insists that in a real education there is no teacher except the Rabbi named Jesus.
A classical education values teachers over administrators and professors over programs. If you find Socrates, go study with him. Accreditation is for distributing government funds. Bad education centers on a way of doing things over the people that must be educated. Classical education would abandon any detail on this list if people could be better educated in some other way. Only classical education begins by asking: What is the good life? and develops education as a means to achieve that life. Other forms of education assume the goodness of education and then move forward with a methodology.
A classical education produces a virtuous man or fails. The goal of a good education is not facts or the ability to earn money. It is not bad to earn facts or to earn money, but these are not the goal of the human life. The goal of human life is to be happy and being happy depends on being good. Why? Only a good man can see God and only God is worth seeing.
Of course, education cannot make a man fit to see God by itself. We are so broken that only by grace through faith can any student see God. Education is the growth of man saved by grace and mercy. As Jesus grew in grace, wisdom, and in favor with God and men, so the student, born again, grows through the educational process.
If a woman or man is not a lady or a gentleman, then she or he is not educated.
Classical education fails if a reactionary pretends he is being classical. Sadly, some use classical as another word for the vain repetition of old ways without their spirit.
If one has Socratic questions without the Spirit, then one is aping education not educating. Education exists for people, not people for education. Classical education exists for the students and the teachers, not for its own sake. Avoid any school that forgets this lesson.
I am honored to serve on a team of classical educators. Every day they urge me to seek wisdom, starting in the fear of the Lord, virtue, and joy.
I’m on board no matter what, but throw in Confucius and Lao/Mo-tse and you have a full house.
The 4+ R’s - Reading (including Religion), wRiting, Rithmatic, and Research.
I’d say most college degree programs these days are a combination of education and training.
After the turmoil of the 1960’s, the powers-that-be determined that educated people are hard to control, and ‘education’ became more trade-school oriented, then later became out-and-out carefully tended nurseries for socialism.
Our American/Western method of education was purposefully supplanted via the Rockefeller $ over a century ago. Evil actors like Thorndike set it on the path to destruction through Rockefeller funded “Teacher’s Colleges”. The process was slow but in recent years the transformation is complete in the Public Schools. The current system is the German system where psychological control is the goal. Well educated people who can think are seen as to the Clintons, Bidens, Obamas and the entire plethora of would be dictators.
Purposeful mis-education makes a population unable to think and process information properly. This is why you see so many mentally incompetent college grads who can’t screw in a light bulb but seem to think that they could centrally control an entire economy or “end racism” through a system of racial preferences.
Ad sapientiam pertinet aeternarum rerum cognitio intellectualis. ( to wisdom belongs the apprehension of eternal things.) - St. Augustine
Today education is to be envied or to be despised. Today’s common man wants his sons and daughter to become part of the the educated woke elite, have the trapping of success, the bobbles and beads that carry weight — like driving a fancy red sports car around Harvard. But if not that and you end up as an educated fool, with useless degrees but working in a comic book shop — then you are despised. The educated fool can also have some degree of arrogance about his education, gets puffed up with pride and that turns people off. The one is admired but brain dead, the other has useless knowledge and is generally despised and humiliated. Further, who wants their son and daughters to end up like tragic Socrates and Jesus who are poor, despised by the governing class and eventually put to death? Does the father want this to befall his children? No. That is not a classical education. What is a classical education?
Classical education is an education in greatness. There is something about the classical corpus that has and shows greatness — what the human can achieve while standing on the shoulders of others.
So then, is any teaching of the basics, without christendom, dung?
The Socratic model does not include forming beliefs on something with no evidence of proof, aka faith. All things are tested for evidence, and if none exists, they are discarded.
Also, the burden of proof is not on the one challenging the evidence, but on the one presenting the thing for examination.
Companies want to see the postgraduate degrees.
If someone is a mechanic, engineer, plumber, carpenter, accountant or has some other USEFUL trade or training, then s/he HAS IT MADE.
My husband was a mechanical engineer. He could do anything. Except teach me to play golf. He finally sent me to a pro. THAT worked and he and played LOTS and LOTS of golf!
Those genius minds DO come around once in a while.
Trivium & Quadrivium.
Thank you for asking.
I remember reading, about thirty five years ago, of an African dictator who insisted his small nation have a “Classical Greek Education”. Can’t remember the nation.
My spies in academia have kept me abreast of the revolting developments in the decline of the humanities. Albert Jay Nock hit on this idea back in the thirties:
“The literatures of Greece and Rome comprise the longest and fullest continuous record available to us, of what the human mind has been busy about in practically every department of spiritual and social activity; every department, I think, except one - music. The record covers twenty-five hundred consecutive years of the human mind’s operation in poetry, drama, law, agriculture, philosophy, architecture, natural history, philology, rhetoric, astronomy, politics, medicine, theology, geography, everything. Hence the mind that has attentively canvassed this record is not only a disiplined mind but an experienced mind; a mind that instinctively views any contemporary phenomenon from the vantage point of an immensely long perspective attained through this profound and weighty experience of the human spirit’s operations. . . . These studies, then, in a word, were regarded as formative because they are maturing, because they powerfully inculcate the views of life and the demands on life that are appropriate to maturity and that are specific marks, the outward and visible signs, of the inward and spiritual grace of maturity. And now we are in a position to observe that the establishment of these views and the direction of these demands is what is traditionally meant, and what we citizens of the republic of letters now mean, by the word education; and the constant aim at inculcation of these views and demands is what we know under the name of the Great Tradition of our republic.
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