The Classical Cat Corner

Wear the old coat and buy the new book. --Austin Phelps

Monday, May 29, 2006

What IS a Latin-Centered Classical Education?

My friend recently asked me "How in the world are you going to do all that for school?" She was meaning a Latin-centered curriculum plus Classical Conversations co-op, plus....I'm not sure what else she thought I was going to do. So, if any of you out there are wondering what a Latin-centered classical education is, then just read this.

{HT to Drew.}

Latin-Centered Classical Education: It's Not What You Think

Latin-centered classical education is not… an attempt to adopt uncritically any ancient or medieval curriculum.

Latin-centered classical education is… the renascence of an educational model that flourished until only a few generations ago and continues to this day in a few tradition-minded schools.

Latin-centered classical education is not… “sola lingua Latina,” training in Latin alone.

Latin-centered classical education is…a rich and varied curriculum, “grounded upon—if not strictly limited to—Greek, Latin, and the study of the civilization from which they arose” (Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p. 15).

Latin-centered classical education is not… based on Dorothy Sayers’ reinterpretation of the medieval Trivium.

Latin-centered classical education is… the type of education Dorothy Sayers herself had.

Latin-centered classical education is not…Great Books read only in translation.

Latin-centered classical education is… the type of education enjoyed by those wrote the Great Books: Cicero, Virgil, Quintilian, Augustine of Hippo, Benedict of Nursia, Thomas Aquinas, Vittorino da Feltre, Thomas More, Martin Luther, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and G. K. Chesterton.

Latin-centered classical education is not… vocational training. Its goal is not to turn out efficient workers or satisfied consumers.

Latin-centered classical education is… dedicated to enlightening the mind, refining the senses, and ennobling the spirit. It aims at a life beyond getting and spending. Its goals are the inculcation of virtue and the fostering of wisdom.

Latin-centered classical education is not… student-led. Classical education does not endorse Rousseau’s notion that, left to their own devices, children will naturally educate themselves.

Latin-centered classical education is… teacher-led. To achieve its goals, traditional classical education assumes the presence and active involvement of a dedicated teacher who acts not just as a conduit for knowledge but as a role model and mentor. While older students must be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their learning, the Latin-centered curriculum assumes that teachers can teach because they know more than their students.

Latin-centered classical education is not… an uncritical affirmation of pagan beliefs or values.

Latin-centered classical education is… devoted to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful wherever they may be found. It assumes that a thoughtful student will see fit to entertain many ideas without feeling the least compulsion to adopt those that prove unworthy. Constant exposure to the best endows the student with the ability to recognize virtue and vice for what they are.

Latin-centered classical education is not… humanistic in the sense of “irreligious” or “making man the measure of all things.”

Latin-centered classical education is… humanistic in the sense that the development of the mind and the refining of the aesthetic sense are worthy activities for creatures that bear the image of God:

To each species of creatures has been allotted a peculiar and instinctive gift. To horses galloping, to birds flying, comes naturally. To man only is given the desire to learn. Hence what the Greeks called paideia, we call studia humanitatis. For learning and training in Virtue are peculiar to man; therefore our forefathers called them Humanitas, the pursuits, the activities proper to mankind. -Renaissance humanist B. Guarino

Latin-centered classical education: It's not just what you think. It's how you think.

Drew Campbell is the author of The Latin Centered Curriculum.


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