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

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

A liberal education starts at home – Simply Convivial

Tacitus is the next selection in our slow plod through The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being. He was a first-century Roman and historian, who desperately wanted Rome to return to “the good old days.” Make Rome great again would have been his cry, but he was informed and eloquent. He was not one of the ones who would have had to give up power or position in order to return to … Read More

The tone of the teacher – Simply Convivial

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What synchronicity! As I was recording the Seven Laws of Teaching Your Own Series for season two of the (http://www.simplyconvivial.com/audio), the Quintillian section in The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being was admonitions to teachers. Guess what? People have known what’s important in teachers and the student-teacher relationship for a very long time. We should listen. The teacher’s talk & temper must be tranquil. So, Quintilian wants us to know it’s important … Read More

What would classical preschool look like? – Simply Convivial

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Quintilian, an education philosopher of the first century AD, has much to say about the bringing up of children. His education philosophy does not begin when they enter school, but when they first start forming their first words and their first thoughts. Today’s excerpt from The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being summarizes what Quintilian had to say about what we would call preschool and kindergarten, and it will probably rub you … Read More

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