Education, "Schooling," and the Soul of the Child
Jacque Maritain once observed: "What is of most importance in educators themselves is a respect for the soul as well as for the body of the child, the sense of his innermost essence and his internal resources, and a sort of sacred and loving attention to his mysterious identity, which is a hidden thing that no techniques can reach." However, in a classroom full of eighth graders, is all too easy to lose sight of this in the day-to-day grind of "schooling." This talk casts a vision for protecting and preserving the most important principles of a truly humane education.
What is Classical Education?
Many efforts have been made to pin down and define the term "classical education" according to specific content or a particular pedagogy. However, the term is best understood as describing a multifaceted set of movements that began in the 1980s and share some common features. Without prescribing a fixed dogma, this talk describes the history of these movements and identifies several of their shared principles.
College Prep and Classical Ed: Living with the Tension
Over the past several decades anxiety around college admissions has been steadily rising. The old paradigm of applying to three schools (a "reach" school, a "target" school, and a "safety" school) has been replaced by students filling out applications for ten, fifteen, or even twenty schools. Expensive programs offer to help students tailor their application. Even middle school students are encouraged to start planning now for their future—a future that depends upon the six-month window of the college admissions process. In the midst of this paradigm, we risk losing what Joseph Peiper called "leisure." This talk proposes a way to make reasonable accommodations to the new situation while guiding students through the process in a way that reduces anxiety and preserves the joy of learning.
Fostering Good Conversations Over Great Books
If we want to have good conversations about great books in our schools, the first thing we have to recognize is that the books are not what ultimately matters. Books are not what we are talking about. There is always something deeper going on in a great work of philosophy, theology, political science, or literature.
What really matters is reality – the reality of the human condition, the reality of the physical world, the reality of the social and political worlds we have created, and those features in the world to which we respond with a religious sense – the mysteries of the self, the other and the divine. This talk offers a framework for leading classroom discussions and practical tips to help students engage reality in such a way.