After twenty-plus years of establishing a school that was inspired by David Hicks’ Norms and Nobility, I still find hope in his work. During that time, I've watched some of our graduates crash into the culture and succumb to it, and I've had others return years later with that sparkle in their eye—that true love of learning and of Christ that was caught during their time at a classical Christian school. So, ”Is Classical Education Still Possible?” as Hicks asks in the 5th issue of CiRCE's magazine?
We need models. We need teachers to show us how to live. And some of the best teachers are those which have never breathed, have never taken on flesh, have never had the urgency of a real death. Some of our best teachers are fictional characters. This is what Leland Ryken means when he says great literature “shows human experience instead of telling about it. It is incarnational. It enacts rather than states. Instead of giving us abstract propositions about virtue or vice, for example, literature presents stories of good or evil characters in action” (p.
Like many Americans, I let the experts at Facebook curate much of the news I read (or share without reading). Lately, my newsfeed has been replete with conservative critiques of so-called “safe spaces” and liberal rebuttals in their defense. I confess my sympathies lie with the conservatives. It’s hard not to crack a grin at headlines such as The Daily Beast’s recent “Elite Campuses Offer Students Coloring Books, Puppies to Get Over Trump.”
In class, I’m often asked if we’ll be studying theology or history on that particular day. I know what the student means; a class on “historical theology” is vast—some days we’ll look exclusively at Scripture, other days we’ll focus in on, say, the Crusades.
In his literary masterpiece Gli Asolani, Renaissance writer Pietro Bembo awakens and ennobles the moral imagination with the myth of the Queen of the Fortunate Isles. In this myth—which, in the narrative is told by a wise old man to the impressionable young man, Lavinello—the Queen of “surpassing beauty” tests the affections of men and rewards them in accordance with their love. Bembo’s myth invites us into a beautiful romance and demands that we examine ourselves, reorder our loves, and seek better dreams for our lives.
Most Americans are in a state of shock this week. Our country is full of people--on both ends of the political spectrum--that did not see this coming. Whether we blame the polls or the media or both, many of us woke up Wednesday morning surprised.
It's election day in these United States of America. After much speech-making and hand-wringing and soul-searching the day has come. We'll take to the polls and cast our respective votes for the next leader of the so-called Free World. This is a momentous occasion and a great responsibility. Years from now, centuries even, people will look back at our time and they will judge what happens today and in the coming months. History depends on what happens, one way or the other.
It is about that time. It generally only takes a few weeks at the start of the school year for disillusionment to set in: midterms are distributed, first papers are submitted, detentions are scheduled, parent meetings are called, budget lines are sinking, and the weaknesses of our summer planning are exposed. The flaws of our students, their parents, our colleagues, and our administration are no longer hidden by the banners, the shiny notebooks, the new white-soled shoes, and the smiling faces of back to school. Now the real task begins.
The first quarter is over. Report cards are out, and parent-teacher conferences are over. My students and I have memorized two poems and are working on another; we have memorized a psalm, an Irish folk song, several annoying grammar songs that never cease to be at the forefront of my mind; we finished Little House in the Big Woods and began The Trumpet of the Swan (this class is full of good readers); and we have completed many math lessons, history chapters, spelling tests, Bible stories, grammar pages, and handwriting.
In the preface to his translation of Plato’s Republic, Allan Bloom defends literal translations against contemporary conventions, which attempt to update old authors like Plato to modern standards. Bloom’s insights portray the kind of humility, deference, and intellectual curiosity indicative of the classical mind—the qualities classical teachers desire to embody before and impress upon their students.