As one of the members of the Australian Classical Education Society who recently completed a three-month training for Paideia Pedagogy Certification with Dr Robert Woods through Kepler Education, I want to put this training to work by starting an online book club for children (ages 7 – 11).
Join ACES for immersive classical pedagogy sessions with practical classroom application.
Saturday, 1 April 2023 8AM-12PM (AEDT) 7-11AM (AEST - QLD)
The Liberal Arts Tradition is a foundational work that provides an excellent overview and insight into how the Classical education movement can bring to life educational traditions and principles in the 21st century. This week our book club continued with our discussion of Part III of the book, dealing with Philosophy as it sits above the 7 Liberal Arts.
- Written by: Sarah Flynn
As a year 12 student, school has been a common denominator in every aspect of my life for almost as long as I can recall. From my very first day of prep, my enthusiasm to learn only ever grew, as my thirst for contestable knowledge flourished through the nurture of the critical thinkers whom I was privileged to be surrounded by.
A few years ago, I found myself more frequently saying that ‘there has to be a better way’. Recent polls and surveys suggest I was not alone, and the sentiment is shared by many today: 44% of US K-12 Teachers feel burned out (Gallup Poll, 2022), with another poll finding the 2 out of 5 teachers plan to quit in the next two years; 22% of UK teachers plan to leave within the next five years (The Guardian); and up to 30% of teachers in some parts of Australia feel the same way (president of the AEU). Indeed, that sentiment was a large factor in my leaving mainstream education in the UK for a smaller, independent Catholic school in France.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4, ESV)
The word ‘paideia’(παιδείᾳ) is a Greek word used in Ephesians 6:4 which is usually translated ‘discipline’ as in the ESV above. Paul is here requiring parents, under the headship of the father, to bring up their children in the ‘paideia of God’. This term is a very significant one in 1st century culture and we sometimes miss the richness that this imperative involves and its application to Christian and classical education. Doug Wilson, one of the early pioneers of the modern classical revival in Christian educational circles, wrote an essay entitled “The Paideia of God” which explored this richness (Wilson, 1999). I wanted to share some of these insights as a contribution to what I hope is the beginning of a classical renewal here in Australia.
This month the Queensland Classical Education network came together for a wonderful dinner at the Greek Club in West End, Brisbane. People from a range of education backgrounds, working teachers, homeschoolers, as well as those working on the establishment of new classical schools came together for an evening of sharing and making connections. Many animated discussions arose around the challenges and aspirations of our respective projects. Importantly the evening functions to build relationships between like-minded people and to share resources. This network building, breaking of bread and meeting of minds and hearts is essential to the development of the Classical Education renewal in Australia. Many of us felt encouraged and inspired with fresh insight and direction from this event.
- Written by: Sarah Flynn
Despite some media headlines to the contrary, 2022 is a hopeful year for education. Nation-wide, classical education, perhaps once archived on the shelf of Lost Things, has started to emerge as a viable option for Australian families. While home schooling groups have already been dipping into this enriching curriculum and program, classical day schools or schools embracing a liberal arts tradition are preparing to fill classrooms and staffrooms. The fragrance of educational renewal is in the air.
Our world today is indebted to the past for its virtues as much as for its ideas and inventions. After the religious conflicts that fractured 16th-17th century Europe, there seemed to many no better way of harmonising disparate and antagonistic groups into something representing a cohesive society than to stress the need for everyone to get along: “Live and let live.” This sentiment is well-reflected in a common adage, falsely attributed to Augustine, but actually from the pen of Marco Antonio de Dominis (1560-1624), himself a Catholic archbishop and scientist who attempted to navigate the rapids of ecclesial change during the post-Reformation period and was finally condemned as a heretic. He wrote: “Omnesque mutuam amplecteremur unitatem in necessariis, in non necessariis libertatem, in omnibus caritatem” (Book IV, De republica ecclesiastica libri X), which is loosely translated: “We should all embrace in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
- Written by: Jonathan Hili
Dr Kevin Donnelly
Proven by a recent seminar in Melbourne where 30 parents, teachers, school leaders, academics and representatives from the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Catholic schools came together from around Australia to learn more about what constitutes a classical education, otherwise known as a liberal education, it’s obvious what is happening overseas is also happening here.
There is nothing stopping the schoolteacher bringing about Australia’s classical education reform at their school right now; everything they need is readily available. I recognise that this may sound like a naïve claim. You may retort my eager optimism by mentioning the curriculum constraints put in place by the Australian Curriculum or by referencing the current utilitarian culture that suffocates the modern classroom. And your concerns would be justified. Were we to try and bring about complete institutional reform the individual teacher would surely find themselves overwhelmed. However, the teacher does not need to attain such lofty goals to provide students with the genuine learning envisioned in the liberal arts. Any teacher can provide the classical education reform their students need by facilitating an afterschool liberal arts club.
Classical education has witnessed incredible contemporary growth in the United States. This movement has been driven by two distinct phenomena: a bourgeoning local, independent school sector (frequently tied to a Christian religious denomination) and a rich homeschooling tradition. The common factor in both, which I consider significantly accounts for their success, is that they are grassroots initiatives. American classical schooling relies on a dedicated mass of parents who turn to teaching themselves or are willing to forgo some expense to ensure their children receive the best form of education because they believe the current model is seriously deficient. These parents have read books, studied, raised funds and banded together to promote their interests and those of their families.
- Written by: Jonathan Hili
Dr Kevin Donnelly AM
What does it mean to be educated and what is the purpose of education? How such questions are answered is crucial as education, in addition to being essential for the wellbeing and continuation of one’s community and society, distinguishes civilised cultures from those that are primitive and less advanced.
Education also deals with the physical, moral, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of each individual and how she or he finds happiness and fulfilment. To be educated is to appreciate what constitutes the good life and to be able to identify right from wrong and true from false. Education, in addition to providing entry to employment, also addresses existential questions about the meaning of life and the nature of universe in which we live.
Jennifer Ruth Dow
What makes one a classical teacher? How is a classical teacher different than a “regular” teacher? How does one become a classical teacher? While we could certainly have this conversation over several hours with more discussion to follow, let me offer a starting point with a few pillar ideas that speak to the question.