I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CiRCE Institute for awakening me to the concept of teaching classically. I am a masters-educated, certified teacher, yet I don’t think that I was ever taught how to educate!
Being 17 years old, one might think that I would not have much to say in favor of education. In fact, I am certain that many people who will read this article assume that I would prefer to spend my time bashing the school system from my social media outlets and blog. However, in writing this article I intend to do just the opposite.
Classicism fits comfortably in the city, with its suggestions of the polis, arts, architecture, academia, and culture; and it fits comfortably in the country, with its evocations of quietude, contemplation, tradition, and permanence. But in the suburbs—the place, increasingly, that most of us call home—isn’t classicism rather an ill fit? Can it be taught, practiced, and lived out, with integrity, in the landscape of strip malls and subdivisions?
My view of classical education is far more concerned with the real thing than with the word "classical." So drawing from the very long Chrisitan classical tradition, I would include Charlotte Mason in that tradition every bit as much as any body else because she:
1. Was a metaphysical realist (which post Dewey progressives are not, and this is crucial).
Are stories and parables told only through words?
Perhaps some might grant that parable-like tales are also told through visual art and music. I’d like to suggest, in addition, that there are many math – and, by logical extension, science – “parables” most of us have never heard. And even if we’ve heard them, many of us have likely overlooked the radically fantastic domain they represent and reflect.
The primary reason for this, sadly, is that few of us were told them as bedtime stories (though somewhat tongue in cheek, I’m actually quite serious about this).
When Darcy appears, girls swoon; and when Jane Austen speaks, they listen. Countless TV adaptations and spin-offs have helped establish her as an authority on all things love and romance, even (or especially) amongst teenage females—an astonishing feat for an eighteenth-century spinster in the age of Gilmore Girls.
But, while many count Austen an authority on relationships, few view her as an apologist for classical education. Yet this she indeed is—albeit with her quintessential subtlety and wit.
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?
I was having a conversation with my sister recently and the talk turned to female friendships. I asked her if she had found a community of friends yet in her new hometown; in particular I wondered if she had found some women with which to connect. She said that she had met some ladies, but I could tell by the tone of her voice that she wasn’t entirely enthused.
Here at CiRCE we believe there's strength in numbers. If the Christian classical renewal is going to be truly meaningful and lasting then we have to work together, wherever and in whatever setting we are teaching. In some ways we need to think of ourselves as one large community. So we thought why not explore that idea a little bit. In this first installment, we chat with Cindy Rollins -- experienced homeschooler and author of Mere Motherhood -- about what homeschoolers can learn from their counterparts in traditional schools.