The best book on classical education?

One of the best books I have ever read on classical education is the just-released title Simply Classical:  A Beautiful Education for Any Child  (Memoria Press).  It’s by my friend and colleague on the board of the Consortium for Classical & Lutheran Education, Cheryl Swope.  Classical education is best-known for its powerful academic chops, for its cultural richness, and for its compatibility with the Christian view of the world.  But Cheryl’s book chronicles what it did for her two special needs children, both with severe mental and emotional handicaps, whom she homeschooled with, yes, a classical education, complete with Latin, classical music, and great literature.  This book not only gives an unusually lucid explanation of what classical education is and how to teach with it, whether in a school or at home, it reminds us of classical education’s most important quality:  how human it is and how it connects with the humanness of its students, including those whose humanness is often overlooked.From the editorial description on Amazon:

This revolutionary new book guides parents and teachers in implementing the beauty of a classical education with special-needs and struggling students. Cheryl is an advocate of classical Christian education for special-needs students. The love of history, music, literature, and Latin instilled in her own children has created in Cheryl the desire to share the message that classical education offers benefits to any child.

-Increase your child’s academic success
-Restore your child’s love of learning
-Regain confidence to teach any child
-Renew your vision of hope for your special-needs child
-Receive help navigating the daunting process of receiving a diagnosis
-Learn how to modify existing resources for your child’s needs
-Find simple strategies any parent or teacher can implement immediately
-Appreciate a spiritual context for bringing truth, goodness, and beauty to any child

What people are saying about it.  (I wrote the Foreword.)
Rev. J. Bart Day
Executive Director of National Mission
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  • Cheryl Swope’s new book is perhaps the best story of classical education ever written. This book will take classical education from the perceived ivory towers of academia into the real life of all people, especially those uniquely blessed with learning disabilities. Here is classical education at its very best, an education that nurtures each soul on purity, truth, and beauty: castitate, vertitate, et pulchritudine animam enutriens.
Martin Cothran
Editor of The Classical Teacher; Author of Traditional Logic I and II, Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle
Memoria Press
  • Cheryl Swope ostensibly writes about special education, but she also makes one of the clearest and most compelling cases for classical education in print. The first argument of the book is that academically-challenged students are human beings too, and they deserve an education commensurate with that fact. While current special education doctrine favors compromising on content, Cheryl proposes only to moderate its measure. If a child cannot accommodate the amount or depth of knowledge of most children, it is not less, but more important that what they learn be of the highest quality. She implicitly understands St. Thomas Aquinas’ principle that the slightest knowledge of the greatest things is greater than the greatest knowledge of the slightest things. Her second argument is that it has been done and can be done. How many people know that Helen Keller had a classical education? And if a person who was blind and deaf could achieve what she achieved, how much more can a student do who faces less severe challenges? Cheryl shows how, in an important sense, classical education can open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf.
Dr. E. Christian Kopff University of Colorado, Boulder
Author of The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition
  • Cheryl Swope’s Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child gives a clear and practical introduction to Classical Christian education and its significance for children with physical and cognitive disabilities from Helen Keller to her own daughter, Michelle. The reader will be excited by the ideas and deeply moved by her story.
The Rev. Stephen W. Kieser
President
The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education
  • Cheryl Swope’s book is exactly what the title suggests, “simply beautiful.” She has woven together a tapestry of personal narrative; an apologetic for classical Christian education and home schooling; and resources for anyone wishing to pursue the trivium with the simplest and most challenged children. Cheryl understands the nature of fallen humanity, Christ’s accomplished plan of saving mankind, and the beautiful service an education saturated in Christian catechesis and the liberal arts has on any child. She carefully articulates what is lacking in progressive education and asserts an education that pursues what is the true, the good, and the beautiful. Her book is a timely contribution to those pursuing home education as well as formal education with children who have special learning needs.
Kathryn Green
President
Southeast Missouri NAMI – National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
  • The theory of classical education is that children become educated and responsible adults who improve their lives and the world around them. Cheryl Swope’s Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child is a well-written, well-researched book which reminds readers that all children deserve a valuable education, even those with special needs. This wonderful work instructs parents and educators, so children who receive a classical education can be surrounded with daily opportunities to learn, even as they remember that the greatest gift they can give is to serve those around them
Joanna Hensley
Latin Teacher, Scholars Academy
Homeschooling Mother of a Special-Needs Child
  • As a classical educator, I have seen what classical education can do for my students; however, as a mother of a special-needs child, I was initially unsure whether this education was right for my own son. Cheryl Swope has convinced me that classical education truly is a beautiful education for every child. This book is a treasury of inspirational stories and practical advice. I am already seeing her ideas bear fruit in our home.

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.


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