Nice sympathetic piece at the CNN education blog about the Classical Christian education movement. From Julia Duin:
In Maryland, a group of students ponder which depiction of the Nativity shows true beauty: A 14th-century Giotto, a 16th-century Barocci or a 20th-century William Congdon. The students are in seventh grade.
Outside Houston, second-graders learn Latin amid the Doric columns, Romanesque arches and the golden Renaissance hues of a gracious brick building.
And in West Tennessee, a first-grade classroom lists virtues – reverence, discipline, diligence and loving kindness – along with Aristotle’s “four questions,” a simplified version of the Greek philosopher’s four causes.
The students attend some of several hundred “classical” schools around the country – institutions designed to reflect the scholarship from the past three millennia of Western civilization, rather than the latest classroom trends.
Classical schools are less concerned about whether students can handle iPads than if they grasp Plato. They generally aim to cultivate wisdom and virtue through teaching students Latin, exposing them to great books of Western civilization and focusing on appreciation of “truth, goodness and beauty.” Students are typically held to strict behavioral standards in terms of conduct and politeness, and given examples of characters from history to copy, ranging from the Roman nobleman Cincinnatus to St. Augustine of Hippo.
Parents like them, too; the number of classical schools – public and private – is growing. The curriculum has helped to boost enrollment at religious schools and inspired new public schools.
There are more than 55,000 members on the forums at welltrainedmind.com, a site started by Susan Wise Bauer, an author and educator who in 1999 published “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.” The book has sold more than a half-million copies, and has become a bible for the classical education movement.
Some supporters will gather this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools – an organization of 235 schools with more than 38,000 students. They’ll attend workshops about how to delight students with poetry and strategies on how to introduce Van Gogh and Matisse to kindergarteners. Also in June, the Lynchburg, Virginia-based Society for Classical Learning will meet in San Antonio, where seminars focus on everything from rhetoric skills to overviews of ancient and medieval education methods.
Along these lines, come to Fort Wayne, Indiana, July 16-18, for the conference of the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education. I’ll be there. Among the highlights: the kickoff of a new teacher certification program for classical Lutheran educators, and the presentation of a new handbook on classical Lutheran education, explaining the distinctives and how to put them into effect.
And, again, if you really want to understand classical education, see how it applies to special needs children in Cheryl Swope’s Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child.