First published in 1981 when it won the American Library Association’s Outstanding Book Award, Norms & Nobility has become a classical text in the educational reform movement. Beginning with the premise that any vital system of education must maintain the link between thought and action, knowing and doing, David Hicks offers a compelling argument on behalf of the classical tradition and its ongoing relevance to contemporary pedagogy. The large and loyal following that this argument has attracted among administrators and teachers over the years bears witness to the practical wisdom of Hicks’ ideas.
This page provides a list of several books we recommend you read if you want understand classical education more deeply. Some are more difficult - and expensive - than others. But dive in, spend some time in contemplation, and you'll emerge more prepared to teach and think classically. Enjoy!
Books on Teaching Classically
For Vigen Guroian, contemporary culture is distinguished by its relentless assault on the moral imagination. In the stories it tells us, in the way it has degraded courtship and sexualized our institutions of higher education, in the ever-more-radical doctrines of human rights it propounds, and in the way it threatens to remake human nature via biotechnology, contemporary culture conspires to deprive men and women of the kind of imagination that Edmund Burke claimed allowed us to raise our perception of our own human dignity, or to “cover the defects of our own naked shivering nature.” In Rallying the Really Human Things, Guroian combines a theologian’s keen sensitivity to the things of the spirit with his immersion in the works of Burke, Russell Kirk, G. K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, St. John Chrysostom, and other exemplars of the religious humanist tradition to diagnose our cultural crisis. But he also points the way towards a culture more solicitous of the “really human things,” the Chesterton phrase from which he takes his title. Guroian’s wide-ranging analysis of these times provides a fresh and inimitable perspective on the practices and mores of contemporary life.
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. Both astonishing and prophetic, this book is one of the most debated of Lewis’s extraordinary works. National Review chose it as number seven on their “100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century.”
“A Real Triumph” – Owen Barfield
“One of the three most important books written on education in the last one hundred years.” – Andrew Kern
Christianity and Classical Culture is considered one of the great works of scholarship published in the last century.
The theme of Christianity and Classical Culture is the fundamental change in thought and action that occurred from the reign of Augustus to the time of Augustine. The classical world sought to practice politics and understand the world in purely rational terms, but the difficulties of this program were already evident as Christianity began developing a completely new understanding of the human world. It is from this revolution in ideas that our modern world was forged.
W. H. Auden wrote of an earlier edition in The New Republic: “Since the appearance of the first edition in 1940, I have read this book many times, and my conviction of its importance to the understanding not only of the epoch with which it is concerned, but also of our own, has increased with each rereading.”
Charles Norris Cochrane (1889–1945) was educated at the University of Toronto and Oxford (Corpus Christi College). He taught at the University of Toronto, then served overseas for Canada in World War I before going back to Oxford for his M.A. in 1919. Returning to Toronto, he became Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman History, then Dean of Residence, and finally full professor and the head of the department of Greek and Roman History.
This collection of essays was presented in 1911 at the high point of the education war between the pragmatists (progressives) and classicists.
Contents include the following essays (and many more):
–The Value of Latin and Greek as Educational Instruments, Francis Kelsey
–Symposium I: Medicine: The Value of Greek and Latin to the Medical Student, Victor C. Vaughan
–Symposium II: Engineering, The Place of the Humanities in the Training of Engineers, Herbert Sadler
–Symposium III: Law
–Symposium IV: Theology, Shortcuts to the Ministry, With especial Reference to the Elimination of Latin and Greek from Theological Education, Hugh Black
–Symposium V: Practical Affairs
–Symposium VI: The New Education
–Symposium VII: Formal Discipline, The Effects of Training on Memory, W.B. Pillsbury
You must read this book if you seek to lead or teach in a classical school.
What holds America together? In this classic work, Russell Kirk describes the beliefs and institutions that have nurtured the American soul and commonwealth. Beginning with the Hebrew prophets, Kirk examines in dramatic fashion the sources of American order. His analytical narrative might be called “a tale of five cities”: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia. For an understanding of the significance of America at the dawn of a new century, Russell Kirk’s masterpiece on the history of American civilization is unsurpassable. This edition includes a new foreword by the distinguished historian Forrest McDonald.