Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning


     Sometimes it is easy to forget that the modern Classical Christian school movement is not much older than thirty years.  During that time, hundreds of thousands have been educated and their lives shaped by an educational model steeped in the Christian heritage and deeply infused with Christian conviction.  
     Among all the books of the past several years that engage the Liberal Arts of the Great Tradition, probably few others have been more informed by the central place that wisdom and eloquence play within the Medieval schools.  In truth, from John of Salisbury's The Metalogicon: A Twelfth Century Defense of the Verbal and Logical Arts of the Trivium to Hugh of St. Victor's The Didascalicon and Martianus Capella's The Seven Liberal Arts and even Giambattista Vico's On Humanistic Education, the case for the temporal and eternal value of a liberal arts education has been made.  Modern authors such as Douglas Wilson, Robert Littlejohn, Charles Evans, and Stratford Caldecott assist us the most when they assimilate the giants of the past and direct us toward application in the present.
     The reason that I would place Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm of Classical Learning high on the must read for all lovers of Classical education is because the authors are conversant with both the key authors of the past centuries and very aware of relevant issues facing Classical Christian schools in the post-modern world.
     This book deals with issues such as traditions, mission statements, student deportment, admission process, endowment, curricular priorities, strategic objectives and plans of implementation, budgets, and school community relationships.
     Additionally, while the authors cover common terrain, they provide numerous insights into the trivium and quadrivium about embracing the best of the past while reaching into the present.  Having taught the Liberal Arts, through the Great Books, on the college level for more than the past decade, I completely echo their pleas and directions in the appendices on "a message to parents," "a historical apologetic for the liberal arts," and "the aligned community."
    It is my personal hope to see God continue to bless a movement that is essentially striving to glorify Him and His kingdom through education.  He has been gracious to provide giants of the past centuries that thought long and hard about what it means to be educated, and He continues to provide those standing on the shoulders of giants who offer tools and resources to schools that provide a model of genuine learning in a wasteland of demotic nescience.