The history of classical Christian education

I am very excited about the publication of Thomas Korcok’s  Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future.  It supplies what has long been needed:  a history of classical Christian education as practiced in the Reformation tradition.  Dr. Korcok shows that the Lutheran approach to  education has always been the classical liberal arts + catechesis.

He also shows that the various theological conflicts were also manifested in educational conflicts:  The scholastics did practice the liberal arts  but with an emphasis on logic, whereas the Renaissance & Reformation educators emphasized rhetoric, with its attention to original texts (such as the Bible).  The Renaissance humanists tended to believe that the liberal arts were sufficient to instill morality, but the Lutherans insisted also on the necessity of Christian catechesis.  The enthusiasts, considering the liberal arts too worldly, wanted only Bible-reading schools.  The pietists also considered the liberal arts too worldly and wanted schools to concentrate only on job-training.   The rationalists considered the liberal arts too old fashioned, wanting only scientific education.  But the Lutherans believed that the liberal arts approach to education–training students broadly, with lots of history, great books, and objective knowledge from mathematics through music–combined with rigorous catechesis, was the best approach in forming young people so that they can think like a Lutheran.

Pastors, parochial school teachers, and parents should read this book.   So should anyone interested in classical Christian education.  (I suspect that much of what holds true for Lutherans also applies to various Reformed educators, who also practiced this approach.)

Here is what Paul McCain of CPH says about the book:

A great new book is now available on Lutheran education which, historically, has been the key to the success of the Lutheran Church’s ability to transmit the confession of the Church to future generations. You may order it here, via the web, or call 800-325-3040. Here is a sample for you to download.

The liberal arts model has traditionally been preferred in Lutheran elementary classrooms. No other educational paradigm so well meets the requirements of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. There is no reason that the liberal arts cannot be adapted to meet contemporary needs. The question is, what should be the main focus of a contemporary presentation of the arts?

Thomas Korcok demonstrates how the Wittenberg theologians settled on a liberal arts education as the preferred model for Evangelical Christian elementary schools. He then traces how that model persisted and was adapted as Lutherans moved from Europe to North America. Korcok concludes that the liberal arts model fits our contemporary setting as changes in society today make it ever more important to have an elementary education that is compatible with Evangelical Theology. The book includes:

-Historic exploration of educational models in view of theological truths
-The challenge of influences that push educators either to the Word as objective truth or away from the Word toward secular standards of truth
-A definition of an Evangelical Liberal Arts approach, its flexibility, and how it fits into classrooms today
-Extensive references to educational, historical, and theological literature

via Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future – New Book from Concordia Publishing House | CyberBrethren-A Lutheran Blog.

You can order the book from the link in my first paragraph or from the CPH website, along with downloading a free sample.  The book is scheduled for release in August, but you can pre-order it.   I wrote the foreword.

Along these lines, I should put in a plug for the 11th annual Conference of the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, July 12-14,  in Sheridan Wyoming, which is where I am heading this week.  I’ll be giving a couple of talks.  If you are in Sheridan, be sure to  introduce yourself!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    Sounds very interesting. My husband and I plan to order a copy. Thanks for spreading the word!

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    Sounds very interesting. My husband and I plan to order a copy. Thanks for spreading the word!

  • Allan

    Looks like a well needed correction to the “homeschool is the only christian option” mentality. I look forward to reading this book.

  • Allan

    Looks like a well needed correction to the “homeschool is the only christian option” mentality. I look forward to reading this book.

  • Joe

    Who holds that mentality? We homeschool our kids but have never thought it was the only option for Christians. I’ve never really thought of it as an expressly Christian thing. Here in Wisconsin, the foremost homeschooling organisation is not Christian in its focus. It is dedicated to making sure families can teach their kids however they see fit.

  • Joe

    Who holds that mentality? We homeschool our kids but have never thought it was the only option for Christians. I’ve never really thought of it as an expressly Christian thing. Here in Wisconsin, the foremost homeschooling organisation is not Christian in its focus. It is dedicated to making sure families can teach their kids however they see fit.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How is this volume different from Korcok’s dissertation presented last year at CCLE X?

    Full text to Korcok’s dissertation here:

    http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/1871/13126/5/8454.pdf

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How is this volume different from Korcok’s dissertation presented last year at CCLE X?

    Full text to Korcok’s dissertation here:

    http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/1871/13126/5/8454.pdf

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, it would be nice if the event were more publicized. Where else is it announced far enough in advance that someone interested could actually attend? Last year, it was mentioned here on May 13, 2010. That was enough time for newbies to have a fair shot at getting plane tickets, yada, yada. This is where Lutherans often fail in the department of blatant self promotion.

    A blog post here recently asked, “Where are all the Lutherans?” Heck even the Lutherans have trouble finding them.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, it would be nice if the event were more publicized. Where else is it announced far enough in advance that someone interested could actually attend? Last year, it was mentioned here on May 13, 2010. That was enough time for newbies to have a fair shot at getting plane tickets, yada, yada. This is where Lutherans often fail in the department of blatant self promotion.

    A blog post here recently asked, “Where are all the Lutherans?” Heck even the Lutherans have trouble finding them.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    If we can get out education system back-and w/ a Christian-Historical-model-we will be able to wrest Life Liberty Property-thus-FREEDOM from tyranny–
    I would at least like to see the educated be able to pass the 8th grade test of 1895-most would not be able to today…http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/1895-eighth-grade-test-our-ed-system.html

    Thank you for the heads up on Korcok’s book…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    If we can get out education system back-and w/ a Christian-Historical-model-we will be able to wrest Life Liberty Property-thus-FREEDOM from tyranny–
    I would at least like to see the educated be able to pass the 8th grade test of 1895-most would not be able to today…http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/1895-eighth-grade-test-our-ed-system.html

    Thank you for the heads up on Korcok’s book…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    If we can get our…

    I need a new pair of glasses – to proof read my comments!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    If we can get our…

    I need a new pair of glasses – to proof read my comments!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    BTW-homeschooled my off-spring -starting back in the early 80s-
    I knew that the basics were not being taught -
    Learned about the true HIStory of the founding of this Republic-did an ‘about face ‘- and have never turned back-
    Thank you Marshall Foster and all—-
    BTW-off-spring -accepted by two of our military academies-

    Carol-CS
    LA LFL

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    BTW-homeschooled my off-spring -starting back in the early 80s-
    I knew that the basics were not being taught -
    Learned about the true HIStory of the founding of this Republic-did an ‘about face ‘- and have never turned back-
    Thank you Marshall Foster and all—-
    BTW-off-spring -accepted by two of our military academies-

    Carol-CS
    LA LFL

  • Lori B

    Would this book be beneficial for a Lutheran homeschool mom who is educating in the classical tradition, or is it just for the classroom? I’ve been desperately trying to find resources/curricula/ etc. that are both Lutheran and classical, but they are hard to find. I didn’t know CCLE even existed until a few weeks ago, and sadly my husband did not think airfare to Wyoming on short notice was the best way to spend our homeschool budget. However, I will start saving now for next year. There are some lovely conference locations in the Southeast…

  • Lori B

    Would this book be beneficial for a Lutheran homeschool mom who is educating in the classical tradition, or is it just for the classroom? I’ve been desperately trying to find resources/curricula/ etc. that are both Lutheran and classical, but they are hard to find. I didn’t know CCLE even existed until a few weeks ago, and sadly my husband did not think airfare to Wyoming on short notice was the best way to spend our homeschool budget. However, I will start saving now for next year. There are some lovely conference locations in the Southeast…

  • Booklover

    Wow, Sheridan is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live in Montana; and my husband does business there all the time. If he were working there in the next few days, I may have shyly popped my head in; but since he just underwent his fifth spinal surgery, he won’t be driving for a while. I hope everyone has a very beneficial learning experience there.

  • Booklover

    Wow, Sheridan is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live in Montana; and my husband does business there all the time. If he were working there in the next few days, I may have shyly popped my head in; but since he just underwent his fifth spinal surgery, he won’t be driving for a while. I hope everyone has a very beneficial learning experience there.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Too bad, Booklover. I hope our paths cross one of these days. The same with the rest of you. We’ll try to do better with publicity next time. Go to the website. You may be able to get in the loop, and some good resources are available from there. (www.ccle.org) Korcok’s book is based on his dissertation, but with some important revisions. I do think homeschooling folks would find a lot of ideas and guidance from his account of how Lutheran education was historically done and why. (He goes into detail about curriculum and many very practical issues.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Too bad, Booklover. I hope our paths cross one of these days. The same with the rest of you. We’ll try to do better with publicity next time. Go to the website. You may be able to get in the loop, and some good resources are available from there. (www.ccle.org) Korcok’s book is based on his dissertation, but with some important revisions. I do think homeschooling folks would find a lot of ideas and guidance from his account of how Lutheran education was historically done and why. (He goes into detail about curriculum and many very practical issues.)

  • Allan

    Joe-

    I personally have nothing against homeschooling. I am assuming
    you are Lutheran, so maybe that is why you have not heard of this mentality? I inhabit the Reformed world, and the mentality does exist in some places there. There is even a group of homeschoolers that romanticize and rewrite the history of education to further their cause. I believe that homeschooling is a legitimate option for christians. I do not believe that looking down on one’s fellow christians for choosing not to homeschool is a legitimate expression of christian unity. Most homeschoolers I have met, do not go the classical education route, but do either the bible-only method or “christianize” all subjects based on their understanding of Abraham Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty and antithesis doctrines.

  • Allan

    Joe-

    I personally have nothing against homeschooling. I am assuming
    you are Lutheran, so maybe that is why you have not heard of this mentality? I inhabit the Reformed world, and the mentality does exist in some places there. There is even a group of homeschoolers that romanticize and rewrite the history of education to further their cause. I believe that homeschooling is a legitimate option for christians. I do not believe that looking down on one’s fellow christians for choosing not to homeschool is a legitimate expression of christian unity. Most homeschoolers I have met, do not go the classical education route, but do either the bible-only method or “christianize” all subjects based on their understanding of Abraham Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty and antithesis doctrines.

  • Joe

    Allen – that is interesting. I am Lutheran (LMCS type), so perhaps that is the reason we don’t run into it that much. The other homeschoolers I know generally fall into three categories: other LCMSers , wanna-be-hippie “unschooling” types and Jewish families.

  • Joe

    Allen – that is interesting. I am Lutheran (LMCS type), so perhaps that is the reason we don’t run into it that much. The other homeschoolers I know generally fall into three categories: other LCMSers , wanna-be-hippie “unschooling” types and Jewish families.

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  • Lori B

    Joe – Wow, I have never met another LCMS homeschooling family. There aren’t that many Lutherans in the South. I know mostly Presbyterian, Baptist and other Evangelical homeschoolers. Be thankful you have like-minded people you can talk curriculum with. This book sounds like a great resource.

  • Lori B

    Joe – Wow, I have never met another LCMS homeschooling family. There aren’t that many Lutherans in the South. I know mostly Presbyterian, Baptist and other Evangelical homeschoolers. Be thankful you have like-minded people you can talk curriculum with. This book sounds like a great resource.

  • Joe

    Lori – are you on the Loop? There is an email/chat group, the Martian Loopers, that is mostly (if not exclusively) LCMSers. You can sign up here. fyi – It is mostly populated by women folk. When we first started homeschooling my wife was fairly active on the Loop and thought it we found others in our area.

    http://www.cat41.org/Loopers/index.htm

  • Joe

    Lori – are you on the Loop? There is an email/chat group, the Martian Loopers, that is mostly (if not exclusively) LCMSers. You can sign up here. fyi – It is mostly populated by women folk. When we first started homeschooling my wife was fairly active on the Loop and thought it we found others in our area.

    http://www.cat41.org/Loopers/index.htm


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