Monday, April 11, 2011

The New Kid on the Block is Old and Deep


Classical education seems to be the new kid on the block.  The truth is that it is and it isn’t.  The roots of classical education are old and deep.  Sadly, the last two centuries have witnessed the slow decline and then the rapid demise of classical education and the rise of the developmental model and progressive education.  Fortunately, the last thirty years has seen a recovery of the classical notion of education, albeit extremely slow. The popularity of the classical notion of education has begun to grow a bit more rapidly in recent years.

This once common, yet revered, way of educating had its recent rebirth through protestant Christianity.  It has taken root in homeschooling, secular and Christian, as well as in private Christian, Protestant and Catholic, schools. 

The private classical Christian (Protestant) schools number in the hundreds.  The Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, The Cambridge School of Dallas, in Dallas, Texas and the Regents School of Austin, in Austin, Texas are three such schools.  The Logos School was at the very beginning of this rebirth and may be said to be its progenitor.  Douglas Wilson, Andrew Kern, and Charles Evans have been key leaders in the growth of the Christian (protestant) classical school movement.

The Catholic schools, which have been the carriers of the classical notion of education for so long, do not number so many.  Official Catholic schools, Catholic schools under the auspices of a diocese, that claim to be classical number fewer than five.  Two were recently named in a Washington Post article,  http://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/embracing-a-classical-education/2011/03/09/AFj6amwC_story.html, St. Jerome Classical School in Hyatsville, Maryland and St. Theresa Catholic School in Sugarland, Texas.   Bryan Smith, Andrew Seeley, and Michael van Hecke are important figures in Catholic classical school  movement.

In the last decade, the charter school movement has begun to pick up on value, quality, and importance of classical education.  The most prominent of these is Ridgeview Classical School in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  There are a number of classical charter schools on the rise.  The only network of classical charter schools is Great Hearts Academies centered in Phoenix, Arizona.  There is great classical charter school work beginning at Hillsdale College.  “The Barney Charter School Initiative is a new project of Hillsdale College to support the launch of classical K-12 charter schools and promote the understanding of liberal and civic education in the larger classical school movement.”  Phillip Kilgore, George Sanker, and Dan Scoggin are important people in this movement.

I move in all three circles.  I am Headmaster at Aristoi Classical Academy in Katy, Texas (www.aristoiclassical.org).  We are transitioning from a performing arts school to classical school.  Transitioning should occupy more of our thought, as a nation.  Though it is hard, it is not at all impossible.  If we are to get better schools, we have to change the schools we have into schools we need.  St. Jerome in Maryland and Aristoi in Katy are showing the way. 

My intention was to explain the difference between a traditional classroom and a classical classroom.  After writing the third sentence, I could not help but to continue as I did.

2 comments:

PNG said...

Hi, Reggie: I can't wait to hear your next post on the differences between a traditional and a classical classroom. Another charter school you should be aware of is Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul. Our girls were there for three years, but we decided to homeschool because of the instability of that school at its onset. Charter schools have a challenge in that they are still public. Therefore, their enrollment is open to everyone. With that, and since many parents were not classically trained themselves, there is much confusion as to what should be taught in a classical school. Parents have a difficulty having their thoughts challenged regarding training vs. forming. The formation to think is still hard to accept as bedrock for academic success which will transfer to the adult world, the workforce, and leadership in society. Can my child be successful with a classical education/formation? Success is usually equated with monetary and societal worth that can be measured by what you have and the titles you hold. I agree this change has to be carried out as a nation. Our country wants to hold onto its super-power status when that's only being measured by economic stability. True, but what if our children aren't trained to think? Train a child to think and you can lead the country and the world economically, socially, psychologically, spiritually, and logically. It's a daunting task to say the least!

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