The English essayist and humourist, Max Beerbohm, once remarked that, after reading a single paragraph of a work, he knew whether the author had received a classical education. He based this judgment, not on the display of learning or the citing of classical references, but simply on the quality of the writing. Having received a classical education at Oxford, he extolled the virtues of Latin in cultivating precision in the use of language and the expression of clear thought.
Mathematics has always been a core part of western education, from the medieval quadrivium to the large amount of arithmetic and algebra still compulsory in high schools. It is an essential part. Its commitment to exactitude and to rigid demonstration balances humanist subjects devoted to appreciation and rhetoric as well as giving the lie to postmodernist insinuations that all “truths” are subject to political negotiation.
As a poet and editor, this is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed more than once, albeit less bluntly. And I can’t help thinking that it’s a very modern question: our twenty-first century world increasingly values those activities which can be linked to tangible and financially lucrative ‘outcomes’ over others. This is reflected in turn in current trends in education, both in Australia and overseas.
While preparing for our Parent Practicum on 28 June, I have had the marvelous opportunity to dwell on yet again, the fifteen tools that Classical Conversations promotes and teaches to gift your child (and yourself) a classical education. These are not new, they are derived from the classical style of learning from centuries before with Aristotle and Plato, and they really help to train the brain to think classically.
People often ask, 'What is the best age to start Latin with children?". This brief article will look at a new program coming out of the University of Dallas, which, using Classical pedagogy, presents Latin to children in a meaningful and engaging way from a very young age.
Andrew J. Zwerneman
At the heart of an authentic classical education is the range of studies we call the humanities. Together, they are the principal means by which we learn what it is we hold in common as humans: our nature, the human condition, our origins, and our common purposes.
Kenneth Difff Crowther
If you are a teacher in Australia that has an interest in Classical or Liberal Arts education, a group I call the ‘Classically Inclined’, what should you do?
I ask this very pointed question because it is not only the logical, but also the imperative question to ask. The recent online conference hosted by ACES and CIRCE demonstrated the interest in classical education in Australia. It was heartening to see over 100 virtual attendees in many presentations, most of which were from Australia, not to mention the countless others who have watched the presentations after the fact.
Education is born free and everywhere is in chains. The quote may be mistaken but I trust the sentiment is not: the mass of contemporary schooling is anything but liberal, being the servile follower of every fad and fashion that descends out of academia’s ivory tower like mana from heaven. A generation ago, information technology was touted as the new summum bonum for students; since then, we’ve had open-plan classrooms with flexible or project-based learning and, more recently, STEM. All the while, the gap between young people’s years in school and their basic competencies in reading, writing and arithmetic is growing further and further apart. Why is this happening?
- Written by: Jonathan Hili