A liberal education, sometimes thought of as or alongside of a classical education, is an education for all. It is, to borrow David Hick's phrase in Norms and Nobility, an education that can "ennoble the masses." While long being accused (and in some instances rightly so) of being elitist, it is not an education that is for the elite, further dividing them from the proletariat; it is, rather, an education that creates the elite. This line of argumentation is problematic, from the beginning, because of the baggage that the term elite carries with it.
The following is a review of How to Innovate, translated by Armand D’Angour.
We’ve got Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Jennifer Doudna. Why do we need Aristotle and a few more dusty throwbacks telling us how to innovate? What could they possibly teach us? By themselves, perhaps less than we might notice, let alone appreciate. But through the efforts of editor and translator Armand D’Angour, much indeed.
I ended part 1 of this series suggesting there are three forms of education in all but the most temporary societies. I added that without all three, a society can't survive.
In this post, I want to introduce the three to you and give three historical epochs when they can be seen rather vividly.
Father: Raiden has been struggling with his grades, as you know, and there are probably some things his mother and I could do on that front, but I think there’s a bigger problem with your class.
Gibbs: What is that problem?
Father: Well, Raiden is convinced that you don’t like him.
Gibbs: I see. And why does he think that?
In 1180 John of Salisbury published The Metalogicon, a treatise written in defense of the Trivium. In it, he answers those who objected to the need for educators to cultivate eloquence in speech. The two most important objections reject first the possibility and then the value of becoming more adept in the art of eloquent expression. John’s defense of eloquence is important today because most non-classical schools pay little to no attention to the acquisition of eloquence.
If you learned that Fox News was producing a five-part documentary series which described the merits of classical Christian education, what would your response be?
Choose one or more of the following options.
A. I would have to see the entire series before I made any judgement on it. It could be helpful to classical Christian education, or it could be harmful.
In an age of access, convenience, and connectivity, the fountain pen remains a touchpoint with the past and connects us to our natural pace. Evernote, Slack, Google Keep, Habitica, and other platforms and apps make life convenient and open to intentional technological integration, although most fail to follow through on these practices—for more info, see Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism.
As a great lover of conversation, I am also skeptical of its ultimate value. My love of conversation is not the romantic sort, nor is conversation my Beatrice. Andre Dubus once wrote, “I need and want to give the intimacy we achieve with words. But words are complex: at times too powerful or fragile or simply wrong… And words are sometimes autonomous little demons who like to form their own parade and march away, leaving us behind.” The fact that words can sometimes be “autonomous little demons” was one of the reasons I quit social media several years ago.
While the rising popularity of classical Christian education means the average family’s classical buy-in is far lower than it was twenty years ago, there are also a few classical schools that are doubling down on their classical convictions. “If stylus and paper were good enough for Plato, they’re good enough for us,” reads the technology policy at St. Francis Classical in Pensacola, Florida.
The last week of a delightful sabbatical has arrived, and I find the seemingly unrelated books I read and discussions I partook in have led me to a common place: hospitality. I entered the spheres of Paradise with Dante in The Divine Comedy, longed for Home with Odysseus, and learned to love my fellow man better with Jayber Crow. The True, Good, and Beautiful hospitably extended an open hand to me, and I now long to extend this invitation to my own students.