IN EDUCATION, "NEW" ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D.
[For the Laurel Leader-Call (4/97)]
A silent revolution is brewing in America's
education vats. With 1980's reports like A Nation at Risk, abounding reform
efforts in public education, private school proliferation, and the upheaval
of the establishment by home schoolers—education as we know it is at risk.
What's the latest wave? Classical and Christian Education. This movement,
though not a household phrase now, will surely be as familiar as "voucher
system," "school choice," or "Goals 2000" in the coming years.
The new wave of Classical and Christian Education is not entirely different from what we all know about schooling. The classrooms are not in Medieval Monasteries or under water, you know. There's still the perennial three W's (Wreading, Writing, and Writhmatic). As it turns out, the distinctives are not really new at all. The Classical approach recaptures an educational method that is a thousand years old. "New" subjects, that are two millennia old, are taught, like Latin (beginning even in the elementary grades), Logic (in Jr. High), and Rhetoric (in High School). The Classical approach brings character development, as well as the content of Western civilization together, while equipping students with the proven tools of learning.
Why this "new" approach? In a series of articles over the next few weeks we hope to answer that more fully. But to start, one can hardly think of the past without being impressed with those who were schooled with just such an approach. Take one example from early America, Jonathan Edwards. Now Edwards was a prodigy, but his education was not nearly so special (then). At home under his father's care he was schooled in "the basics." When he entered Yale in 1716 before the age of thirteen he had a thorough knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Not only was he instrumental as a preacher in the Great Awakening (1740-1742), recognized as America's greatest philosopher, and called as the first president of Princeton—among his direct descendants are found three college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 33 judges, 66 physicians, eight public officials, three senators, three governors, and one Vice President. If you can't relate to an Edwards, just consider the common letters of the "uneducated" in the last century which would pass for our most eloquent literature (for example in Ken Burns Civil War series).
Little response is required when the critic asks, "But with so many new things to try, why go back to the education ideas of the past?" . . . Over the next few weeks we will discuss more fully Classical and Christian Education and its relevance to public, private, and home school arenas, as well as overview the key books and resources on the subject. On the evening of June 15th, Father's Day, a nationally known speaker on the subject, Douglas Wilson, will be in Laurel addressing the topic. For more information call 649-8570.
© Gregg Strawbridge. All Rights