Classical Education: Definitions | Norms & Nobility Notes, preface

I am currently in an online book club studying Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, a classical education cornerstone. By the time I was halfway through chapter 1, I knew I’d have to blog through my readings. As I continued to make my commonplace notes and copy quotes, I also realized I was going to have to blog slowly, because I don’t want treatise-length posts, and I also don’t want to skip any of the ideas. So, if you want … Read More

What Is Character? and How to Build It.

Character is one of those words we toss around often. Too often, we do so without a clear understanding of what it is. We say we care about character, perhaps even homeschool for the purpose of shaping our children’s character, but what exactly does that mean and how exactly do we go about such a task? The dictionary defines character as: Suddenly, we are taken aback. 
Wait? 

Mental qualities are a part of character? Our character is not simply our … Read More

Speaking well is part of living well. – Charlemagne on education

_ If the goal of education is virtue, why bother studying science or spelling or rhetoric? Why not just hunker down and do character lessons and call it a day? Our idea of virtue is too shallow. We see our moral sense unconnected to our knowledge or even to our ability to communicate. But they are not unconnected. They should all – and do all – feed each other when submitted to God. The selection I’m highlighting today from The … Read More

What to teach and how and why. – Alcuin on schools

_ Once again we delve into the history of classical education as I slowly read through The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being. We now move from the early church into the early medieval period, erroneously called The Dark Ages. Alcuin of York was a pupil of a great and learned bishop and inherited the schoolmaster position from his master. Alcuin led a revival of learning in England and Europe, earning the … Read More

Is virtue an action or an attitude? – Gregory the Great on the contemplative life

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_ Gregory the Great, of gregorian chant fame, was pope in the 6th century. Born of noble family and classically educated, Gregory opened monasteries, sent a bishop-led mission to newly discovered England, and is one of the four recognized “doctors of the Latin church.” The selection included in The Great Tradition is not about education per se, not about educating the young, at least. Rather, it is about the right kind of life to pursue. It is a pure life … Read More

Memory or Understanding? – Cassiodorus on Learning

Next up in the early church readings on education in The Great Tradition: Cassiodorus. Cassiodorus was a consul in Rome, living through the drawn-out fall of Rome, and ending up as an advisor to Theodoric along with Boethius. He was of noble birth and a devout Christian. Late in his life he founded a monastery with the express purpose of preserving ancient culture as he watched Rome’s disintegration. His monastery didn’t last beyond his own lifetime, but his works excerpted … Read More

Truth is from God – Augustine on learning

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Augustine, doctor of the church, protected the church against heresy and also gave the church a rich heritage of philosophy and theology. _ 
Not only did he receive and use a classical education of the first caliber, he also had thoughts about education and for students as well. Today we’ll look at some of his advice to scholars, excerpted from The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being. Matters of study, matters to … Read More

What profit it a man? – Augustine on education

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As I slowly make my way through The Great Tradition, I am fascinated to read what the best minds of the past have prioritized in education. Particularly because I am now in the Church Fathers section, it is so good to see how they handled the transition from the classical world into Christendom – they knew philosophy, science, and the arts were not automatically corrupting simply because they came from the Gentiles. Augustine will have a bit more to say … Read More

5 Myths about Teaching from Rest

Do you know what it means to teach from rest? Teaching from rest is not easy or gentle or comfortable. Teaching from rest is homeschooling faithfully. Rest. You know you need it. What do you picture, when you think of yourself resting? Walks on a beach? A nap? Curling up with tea and a novel? These are lovely respites that we enjoy, but these images or memories also end up confusing us when rest is used in other contexts. Turns … Read More

Phonics is noble – Jerome on early education

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Jerome was an adult convert, receiving an excellent classical education early in life and using that later in life for the good of the church. His best patron was a wealthy widow, Paula, with whom he kept up a correspondence. Because of her support, he was able to devote must time and energy into literary endeavors, writing books, translating the Bible into Latin, maintaining correspondence, and more. The letter excerpted here is to Paula about a granddaughter who had been … Read More

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