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

_ 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

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

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

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

What must we then read? – Jerome on pagan learning

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Jerome is a fascinating character. He is the one who gave the Church the Vulgate, and his own classical learning and love of Latin poets & philosophers gave him the skill to do so. Amid a near-death experience, Jerome vowed never again to read a secular author. So, at first it seems that Jerome must be in the anti-classical camp. Yet, although this is his vow, it is not his advice to others. Just as the Nazarites vow not to … Read More

Of Stories & Cities – Chrysostom on learning & the soul

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And we’re back with more from The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being! Chrysostom was an early church father nicknamed “Golden Mouthed” for his eloquence. He received a Greek liberal arts education from a pagan, then went on to study theology under a respected teacher. He taught the Bible with a plain understanding instead of interpreting with elaborate allegories, which was the common at that time. He spent two years of his … Read More

Early childhood in the early church – Chrysostom on education

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And we’re back with more from The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being! Arranged chronologically, the book is a source of what true education has been known to be – and ideas for how to impart it – since Ancient Greeks started philosophizing about it. True education, noble and worthy training of the heart and mind, has been known by various names throughout the ages: liberal, humanist, classical. However, the aim has … Read More

All virtue is God’s virtue – Simply Convivial

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Of course this title is a play on the saying (often applied in similar discussions) that all truth is God’s truth. Therefore, we say, as Christians we can study truth no matter where we find it. In the same way, Basil the Great of Cappadocia (bishop, scholar, and teacher in the 4th century) says we can study and apply virtue wherever we find it. After all, he concurs with the ages before and after himself, the point of education is … Read More

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