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Classical-EdIn September 1974, the English philosopher Michael Oakeshott delivered the Abbott Memorial Lecture at Colorado College. Entitled “A Place for Learning,” Oakeshott’s lecture attacked the dominant model of education, a model predicated on the theories of the American educationist John Dewey. Learning, Oakeshott observed, should take place under “conditions of direction and restraint designed to provoke habits of attention, concentration, exactness, courage, patience, and discrimination”; but schools shaped by Dewey had instead become arenas of “childish self-indulgence,” “experimental activity,” “discovery,” and “group discussions.” Oakeshott was especially scornful of the notion that education’s purpose was “socialization,” which could only turn the child into a compliant little cog in the machine of commerce and industry. “The design to substitute ‘socialization’ for education,” he argued, was “the momentous occurrence of this century, the greatest of the adversaries to have overtaken our culture, the beginning of a dark age devoted to barbaric affluence.”[1]

In other lectures and writings, Oakeshott elaborated a positive vision of education. Education should initiate the student into a “historic inheritance or ‘culture,’” which Oakeshott imagined as a multi-voiced conversation. Scientific, historical, philosophical, and poetic voices contribute, each voice expressing “a distinct . . . understanding of the world and a distinct idiom of human self-understanding.” Education enables the student to participate in the “endless unrehearsed intellectual adventure” of that conversation. Liberal education is “above all else, an education in imagination, an initiation into the art of this conversation in which we learn to recognize the voices, to distinguish the different modes of utterance, to acquire the intellectual and moral habits appropriate to this conversational relationship, and thus to make our debut dans la vie humaine.”[2] Since education is the “distinguishing mark of a human being,” replacing education with “socialization” is fundamentally dehumanizing. True education is an initiation into our full humanity. It is not so much a leading-out as a passing-on of the skills necessary to participate in culture. True education is really traducation.

Inside a flat-roofed yellow building that looks like a roller rink because it used to be one, students at the Logos School in the small northern Idaho town of Moscow are being initiated into an inheritance that the school describes as “classical and Christ-centered.” As in every Christian school, students learn the Bible and take classes in Christian doctrine. To these subjects, however, Logos adds liberal arts and classical studies. Second-graders chant Latin paradigms and learn important names and dates from classical and American history. Middle school students study formal logic and engage in debates. Older students read Homer and Virgil, Chaucer and Spenser, Shakespeare and Dante. Every high school student must take two years of rhetoric, using Aristotle as a text, and the hardy have the chance to learn Greek.[3]

Logos is one of the flagship schools for “Classical Christian Education” (CCE), a movement of educational renewal taking place mostly among American Protestants. Many of the leaders are evangelicals who, over the years, have become more attuned to the role of tradition both in theology and in educational philosophy. Formed by the heated revivals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American evangelicalism has been congenitally hostile to tradition, preferring instead to “stand alone on the word of God.” But contemporary evangelicalism has been recovering a sense of tradition.[4] CCE is a vigorous educational expression of this evangelical ressourcement—a return to the “sources.” Douglas Wilson, one of the founders of Logos, observes that outside CCE circles “most conservative private schools have a sense of church history that goes back [only] to 1776.” Leaders of CCE reach more deeply into the past. Some come from Protestant denominations with confessional traditions going back to the Reformation, and others are evangelical Protestants “looking for something deeper.” Wilson himself was drawn to CCE because he perceived a “historical lack” in his own education and Christian experience, and his search for remedies led him to classical education and to the Reformed tradition in theology. At bottom, Wilson believes, the classical turn in Christian education arises from a “hunger for historical rootedness.”[5]

A similar analysis comes from Andrew Kern, Director of the CiRCE Institute, which bills itself as “the leading provider of inspiration, information, and insight to classical educators throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia.” In a book on classical education, Kern and his coauthor, Patrick Henry College provost Gene Edward Veith, insist that classical education is not nostalgic or traditionalist.[6] Yet Kern thinks CCE is especially attractive in an “age of disintegration and homelessness” when parents and teachers “are looking for ancient roots.”[7] Ken Myers, host of the Mars Hill Audio Journal, characterizes the movement as a search for true humanism: “While some Christians thought that America’s ills were because of too much humanism, some Christians realized that our problem was not having enough humanism.” Evangelicals “by and large don’t have a strong ecclesiastically centered cultural heritage,” so they look outside their own world for educational models.[8]

Similar educational programs are found in some Catholic schools. On a twelve-acre estate forty miles west of Boston, students at the Trivium School meet in a turn-of-the century mansion known as Crownledge. Founded in 1979, the Trivium School teaches Catholic doctrine but also focuses on liberal and fine arts to inculcate the “intellectual skills and habits that prepare the student for life-long learning.”[9] The Trivium School is not alone. On a website flanked by pictures of Christopher Dawson and Cardinal Newman, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education promises to serve “the Church by fostering Catholic liberal education through research, education and consultation.”[10] And “Love 2 Learn,” an organization that assists Catholic homeschoolers, prominently features materials that help parents develop a classical curriculum.[11]

CCE establishes schools that do something Oakeshott might have recognized as education: not socialization or vocational training, but initiation into a cultural heritage, induction into the ongoing conversation of Western civilization. Classical educators also aim to recover the moral dimensions of education. “Classical education,” write Veith and Kern, “cultivates wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty.”[12] Nearly every word in this sentence—wisdom, virtue, soul, truth, goodness—has been expunged from the vocabulary of public education, but words like “wisdom,” “virtue,” “nobility” and “truth” are frequently heard in the corridors of classical schools.

The search for historical roots has taken many back to the Middle Ages—at least to the Middle Ages as related by Dorothy Sayers. In her 1947 essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Sayers, a popular detective novelist and translator of Dante, lamented the state of education and public discourse in England. She asked readers if they had “been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question”; whether they had “followed a discussion in the newspapers or elsewhere and noticed how frequently writers fail to define the terms they use”; whether they knew people for whom a school subject “remains a ‘subject,’ divided by watertight bulkheads from all other ‘subjects.’” She chose some embarrassing quotations in the venerable Times Literary Supplement to illustrate her judgment that “we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching [students] how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.”[13]

Once, Sayers argued, things were different. Whereas today we indulge an “artificial prolongation of intellectual childhood and adolescence,” young men in Tudor England set off to university in their early teens. A medieval student who went through the Trivium acquired the tools for learning, especially the tools of language.[14] Once our culture had these tools as a common possession, but no more:

. . . today a great number—perhaps the majority—of the men and women who handle our affairs, write our books and newspapers, carry out our research, present our plans and our films, speak from our platforms and pulpits—yes, and who educate our young people—have never, even in a lingering traditional memory, undergone the Scholastic discipline. Less and less do the children who come to be educated bring any of that tradition with them. We have lost the tools of learning—the axe and the wedge, the hammer and the saw, the chisel and the plane—that were so adaptable to all tasks.[15]

Sayers was not content to lament. Conceding her lack of teaching experience, she nevertheless outlined a modern curriculum based on the medieval Trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Medieval theorists applied these categories literally to the study of language, but Sayers treated them more metaphorically, claiming that every subject has its grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Grammar makes use of the faculties of observation and memory and involves the mastery of foundational facts; dialectic makes use of reason and examines the connections between facts; rhetorical training channels the student’s creativity as he learns to express the facts and logical connections he has learned with persuasive elegance.

Sayers’s other original idea was that the sequence of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric is a developmental sequence. Young children love to learn facts, to chant repetitively, to recite. Grammar fits neatly into that stage. As children move from the grammatical “Poll-Parrot” to the “Pert” stage, they delight in “contradicting, answering back, liking to ‘catch people out’ (especially one’s elders),” and so are ready to have their pertness refined by formal logic. As they enter puberty, they become dreamily, poetically self-expressive, and they gain some sense of the unity of knowledge. Rhetoric then becomes an appropriate study. At the end of a curriculum organized by the Trivium, the student is trained to think. No matter what subject matter he encounters, he will be capable of mastering it. He has acquired the tools of learning, and is ready to specialize.

Sayers thought that “it is in the highest degree improbable that the reforms I propose will ever be carried into effect.”[16] She was too pessimistic, or too humble, or both. Over the past twenty-five years, her refurbished Trivium has provided the skeletal structure for literally hundreds of new classical schools throughout the United States and elsewhere.

Faced with the need to provide a Christian education for his oldest daughter, Douglas Wilson did what few fathers would do: he started a school. By his own admission, he knew little about education at the time, less about classical education, but he knew he didn’t want either “a fundamentalist reactionary academy” or “a compromised prep school.” He remembered reading a reprint of Sayers’s essay in National Review during his Navy service, found a copy, and proceeded to model his new school on it.[17] In 1980, Wilson spearheaded the formation of Logos School, which opened its doors to nineteen students.[18] His debt to Sayers is evident in the title of his 1991 contribution to Crossway Press’s Turning Point Christian Worldview Series: Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.

Wilson’s book struck a chord with Christian schools and parents throughout the United States, and classical Christian schoolteachers and headmasters regularly cite Wilson’s book as the key to their conversion to classical education. Wilson soon began receiving requests for help in forming schools, and he realized there needed to be an institutional structure to handle the increasing volume of requests. In 1993 Logos School hosted its first teacher-training conference, which led to the formation of the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS).[19] ACCS provides start-up advice, accreditation, and training for teachers in CCE schools. Starting with only 10 member schools in 1994, ACCS had grown to 110 schools by the year 2000, and to over 200 in 2007, including four international schools. The schools range in size from a dozen students (in Snoqualmie, Washington) to nearly 800 (at the Cary Christian School in the bourgeois bohemian realm of the North Carolina Research Triangle). ACCS schools now enroll more than 25,000 students, an increase of 10,000 over the last five years.[20]

Some ACCS schools wear their Sayers-ism on their sleeves. For example, Mars Hill Academy in suburban Cincinnati, founded in 1995, divides its newly built school not by grades but into wings labeled Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Of course, the centrality of the Trivium, and the validity of Sayers’s interpretation, has not gone unchallenged. In a 2006 book, Wisdom and Eloquence, Robert Littlejohn and Charles Evans argue for a separation of “the arts from the question of cognitive development” and they challenge what they call Sayers’ “spurious notion that the trivium is foundational to the quadrivium.” For Littlejohn and Evans, the Trivium is a collection of subjects, not a pedagogical model, and they emphasize that classical schools should be classical not merely in pedagogy but in the subject matter of the curriculum.[21] Gene Veith is also concerned about the neglect of the Quadrivium. Bluntly declaring that “Dorothy Sayers was wrong in saying these represent the ‘subjects’ and are best left until the university level,” Veith notes that “most of our classical Christian schools do little with the arts, the empirical sciences, and mathematics.” He observes that “equipping our students with these particular ‘arts’ would fill a huge need.”[22]

By nearly every standard, CCE has been a notable success. At Logos, one recent class had an average SAT score in the 96th percentile, and in 2005 four of twenty-six graduating seniors were National Merit Scholars. Other Idaho schools had as many National Merit Scholars, but they also had graduating classes in the hundreds. Logos Mock Trial teams regularly go to national competitions after beating out other Idaho schools with much larger student bodies. At Regents School in Austin, Texas, one eighth-grade class averaged 950 on the SAT, besting the national average for high-school seniors by nearly fifty points. In one year, Brookfield Academy in Milwaukee had eight National Merit Scholars in a graduating class of 33.[23]

The quality of the students produced by classical education is both a sign of success and a recruiting tool. Bruce Williams, headmaster at The Oaks, a 300-student school in Spokane, Washington, got started in classical education after interviewing Douglas Wilson’s son Nathan for an overseas basketball tour Williams was organizing. Williams was so impressed with this product of classical education that he contacted the elder Wilson, who challenged him to start The Oaks.[24] More than anything else, says Andrew Kern, “what draws people to classical Christian schools is the children they see who are different—more articulate, more respectful, and more intelligent.”

For all this success, classical educators are quick to point out that they are a long way from achieving their ultimate aims. This is particularly evident when it comes to classical languages. At the Veritas School in Lancaster, students take Latin for six years before switching to Greek for two years, but Headmaster Ty Fischer admits that his students do not yet learn the languages as well as they should. Veritas initially taught Latin with the real aim of achieving “English mastery,” but Fischer says they are now “moving in the direction of mastering Latin for the sake of mastering Latin.” Asked if the students ever speak Latin, Fischer replies that they do so only “when they don’t want the teachers to know what they are saying.”[25] Tim Griffith, who taught at Logos after earning an M.A. in classics at the University of Kentucky and now teaches Latin at New Saint Andrews College, estimates that “about a third of my high school students achieved a level of Latin that will stick with them for a very long time,” but he has only “two or three” students who have “been motivated enough to read entire works in Latin on their own.”[26] From his vantage point at CiRCE, Andrew Kern points to some language success stories, including the American Academy in Philadelphia and St. Peter’s in Dallas. Yet he laments that many classical schools have “concluded that ‘classical’ means three stages and a lot of books.” Few schools teach Greek, and few “see mastery as the goal.” Instead, classical schools teach Latin to help with English grammar, to raise SAT scores, or to increase vocabulary. But classical schools are rarely daunted by these and other shortcomings. Classical educators see their work as a multigenerational effort at recovery.

The Sayers version of classical education is only one of several available. A number of public schools have integrated classical learning through the use of Mortimer Adler’s “Paideia Proposal” (1982), which aims to reform public education by emphasizing virtue and pointing students toward the classical goal of happiness, defined as a “life enriched by the possession of every kind of good.”[27] In 1981, David Hicks published his Norms and Nobility, which laid out a program for what has been called “moral classicism.” Several years earlier, in 1975, Marva Collins founded the Westside Prep with a curriculum centered on the liberal arts. Collins’s goal is overtly one of liberation, as she emphasizes that “to educate” means “to lead out.” Home schooling has also taken a classical turn, encouraged by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer’s 1999 book, The Well-Trained Mind.[28] These varieties of classical education are not, however, hermetically sealed off from each other. Veritas Academy, an ACCS school, follows the Trivium, but older students work through a Great Books program known as the Omnibus in a format that resembles Adler’s approach.

In 2006, 62 million students were enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, 6.8 million of them in private schools.[29] Even by the wildest estimates, there are only several hundred classical schools in the country, many of them quite small. It is therefore no wonder that CCE has largely escaped the notice of the academy, educational professionals, sociologists, and journalists. Yet within certain sectors of American Protestantism, CCE has an important presence. Veritas Press, associated with Veritas Academy in Lancaster, sells editions of classic texts, produces its own curricular materials including a three-volume guide to the Omnibus, publishes substantive articles on classical education in its catalogue, and links home school students to a collection of online teachers. Similar offers are available from Memoria Press in Kentucky. In the mid-1990s, Robert Littlejohn founded the Society for Classical Learning (SCL) to “facilitate and encourage thinking and discussion among professionals associated with Christ-centered education in the liberal arts tradition.”[30] SCL publishes a quarterly journal on classical learning, and sponsors conferences. Director Leslie Moeller describes SCL as a “learned society, similar, perhaps, to the American Psychological Association . . . offering to individual members forums for the exchange of ideas, research and best practices related to classical learning.”[31] For home schooling families, there is also Classical Christian Home Educators (CCHE), which assists parents in developing a classical education at home.

Though classical educators are careful to say they are not reactionary, there is no doubt that the movement is a reaction to the educational failures of the last century. Teachers and parents involved in classical education were schooled during the experimental decades of the mid-twentieth century, and they came away from that experience feeling cheated. Books and articles on classical education regularly begin where Sayers began, with a lament over the sorry state of education. To the educational lapses Sayers recorded in 1947, they add a litany of complaints familiar to any reader of the Intercollegiate Review: postmodernism, relativism, and multiculturalism, not to mention crime, drugs, and condoms in the schools. Kern describes the philosophical foundations of classical education with a brash litany of deliberately anti-PC formulae: “logocentrism, foundationalism, and a teleology that sees the perfection of a thing’s nature as its purpose.”

In the end, however, classical education is more radical than reactionary—radical, that is, in its original sense, describing something that goes to the roots. Classical educators advocate not a reversion to the imagined certainties and calm of the 1950s but a root-and-branch reform of American education that finds inspiration in medieval, Renaissance, and early American education. At times, the radicalism is overt. Wilson rejects vouchers, charter schools, secular classicism, and similar reform proposals as just so many efforts to “heal the wound lightly.”[32] Veith and Kern for their part warn that a mere change of educational technique will not solve the crisis of American education: what is needed “is a different philosophy of education,” since “the real issue is the purpose of education.”[33]

Inevitably, CCE’s radicalism reaches beyond the realm of pedagogy. Every debate about education, after all, is about much more than education. Questions of education are questions about the relation of a culture to its past and to its future. CCE represents, more or less overtly, a protest against contemporary society, as well as contemporary education.

Most obviously, CCE, like other movements in Christian education, protests the secularization of public education that began in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Early in its history, the National Education Association (then known as the National Teacher’s Association) supported the use of public schools to inculcate religious, and hence moral, prescriptions. During the 1870s and 1880s, however, a number of outspoken leaders in the NEA challenged this religious consensus and pressed for a deliberate secularization of the schools.[34] Secularization of schools was bound up with several other shifts in American education, as well as with large changes in American society and culture. For the Progressives of the early twentieth century, the goal of educational reform was to substitute a scientific, professional, standardized, bureaucratized system for the religiously and morally oriented education of the past. Progressives worked through superintendents in larger American cities to organize an educational system for a new scientific age.[35] In protesting the secularization of the schools and insisting on the moral dimension of education, classical educators take aim at a range of contemporary values: professionalization, bureaucratization, standardization, deference to “expert” authority, the whole Weberian apparatus of rationalization. Despite the evident conservatism of the movement, CCE is not about maintaining the cultural status quo.

The classical educators’ critique of American education cuts more deeply still. While American education has not always been dominated by professional educationists, it has always tended toward pragmatism. Ralph Waldo Emerson arguably invented the American intellectual tradition, and there is discernible continuity between his transcendentalism and Dewey’s pragmatism.[36] For all its faith in education, America has always been ambivalent, at best, about the apparent uselessness of classical education.

During the century following 1640, the study of Greece and Rome “constituted the basis of the curriculum for all colleges and elite secondary schools” throughout the American “Old College” system of Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Williams, etc. The College of William and Mary proposed grammar schools where Latin and Greek, along with “Classick Authors of each tongue” would be taught, and this vision of placing Greek and Latin language and literature at the center of a college curriculum persisted as late as the Yale Report of 1828.[37] But these schools trained only “a small, largely clerical minority of Americans.”[38] As Lee Pearcy writes, by the eighteenth century a classical curriculum based on the study of Latin and Greek and reading of ancient authors according to the familiar English pattern had been firmly established as the foundation and core of education for the relatively small number of young American men who hoped to become clergymen, statesmen, public servants, or teachers. It is important to remember how few ever reached the point of studying classical languages and their attendant subjects in a colonial college. . . . Between 1642 and 1689, Harvard produced 388 graduates, nearly half of whom became clergymen. Massachusetts in 1689 had more than 48,000 inhabitants. Classical studies in this country began as the education of an elite minority.[39]

Many Americans echoed John Locke’s suspicions about the utility of classical education, which seemed unsuited to the harsh wilderness of the new world. William Livingston reported to his bishop in 1768 that in America clerical training could not follow the English model:

We want hands, my lord, more than heads. The most intimate acquaintance with the classics, will not remove our oaks; nor a taste for the Georgics cultivate our lands. Many of our young people are knocking their heads against the Iliad, who should employ their hands in clearing our swamps and draining our marshes. Others are musing, in cogitation profound, on the arrangement of a syllogism, while they ought to be guiding the tail of a plow.[40]

Suspicions intensified after the Revolution. Newly liberated from British rule, Americans associated classical study with “everything that the Revolution had cast off: ancient privilege, tyranny, and the elitism of power and wealth.”[41] Thomas Paine spoke for many when he said, “I have no notion of yielding the palm of the United States to any Grecians and Romans that were ever born,”[42] and Benjamin Rush classified Greek and Latin “with Negro slavery and spirituous liquor . . . as, though in a less degree, unfriendly to the progress of morals, knowledge, and religion in the United States.”[43] Fundamentally, Pearcy notes, “Humanistic classical education depended on the existence of the class it had been designed to serve, and that aristocratic, leisured class . . . had no place in the new nation of Tocqueville’s pioneers.”[44] Those who received classical education were regarded by their rugged countrymen as effete, European, elitist, not-quite-American.

As this short discursion into early American history makes plain, today’s classical education is attempting to repudiate not only mid-twentieth-century pedagogical corruptions, but also a long-standing American prejudice in favor of pragmatism. It is too early to tell whether CCE can successfully swim against so broad and deep a cultural current. Ken Myers, for one, has doubts. He sees a direct connection between CCE and partisanship in America’s current Kulturkampf. He notes that CCE emerged at the “same time ‘culture wars’ concerns emerged, when liberalism’s assault on church and family became associated with an assault on the West”; he worries that the movement is governed too much by a concern to “save America” or “save democracy.” Instead of initiating students into a tradition and a conversation, classical education could degenerate into a form of Christianized pragmatism, merely training students to man the battlements of the culture war.

I would argue, however, that classical schools have built-in protections against becoming an arm of the Christian Right. Students of dialectic and rhetoric at Veritas Academy in Lancaster work through an extensive collection of Great Books in their Omnibus curriculum, and at the Logos School American literature students thoroughly discuss Moby-Dick and other novels in class. At its best, CCE combines fervently evangelical Christianity with an appreciation of what Oakeshott, speaking of university education, described as the “gift of the interval,” the “opportunity to put aside the hot allegiances of youth” and to find a “break in the tyrannical course of irreparable human events,” a “moment in which to taste the mystery without the necessity of at once seeking a solution,” a moment when students are “freed . . . from the curse of Adam, the burdensome distinction between work and play.”[45]

From his home outside tiny Potlatch, Idaho, some twenty miles north of Moscow, Wes Callihan runs Schola Classical Tutorials. On most mornings, Callihan sits in front of his computer in his bathrobe and conducts live classes in the classical languages, Great Books, history, literature, and rhetoric for teenagers all over the United States.[46] Every year, he gathers his students from all over the country to Potlatch to meet each other face-to-face and to spend a week reading Augustine’s City of God or the works of Athanasius. Aloud. Together. In a recent essay on “Eating Books,” Callihan talks about the virtues of slow reading, reading for more than the “gist”: “We in the modern world have too little time, and the same pressure that drives us to gobble fast-food meals on the run causes us also to read everything, even our Bibles, much too fast.” Callihan captures the vision of classical education in his Oakeshottian conclusion: “We starve our souls and our minds and wonder why there is so little wisdom in the world.”[47]

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Reprinted with the gracious permission of the Intercollegiate Review (Spring 2008).


1. Quoted in Paul Franco, Michael Oakeshott: An Introduction (New Haven, CT: Yale, 2004), 122–23. 2. Quoted in ibid., 122.

3. I must declare an interest—in fact, many interests: my own children attend the Logos School in Moscow, Idaho; my oldest son teaches at a Classical Christian school in Cary, North Carolina; I teach at New St. Andrews College, a four-year Classical Christian liberal arts school; and a number of the leaders of classical education are personal friends.

4. See, for instance, D. H. Williams, Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005). The evangelical reevaluation of Roman Catholicism is one dimension of the same trend. See Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005).

5. Personal e-mail communication, October 27, 2007.

6. Veith and Kern, Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America (Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, 2001), 117.

7. Here and hereafter, all quotations from Andrew Kern, unless otherwise attributed, are drawn from personal e-mail communication, October 17 and 29 and November 2, 2007. More whimsically, Kern says the source of the whole movement is the Chronicles of Narnia: “C. S. Lewis made classical Christians of all of us when we were little kids and fell in love with Tumnus the faun, Bacchus the river God, and the power of mythology understood in a Christian classical tradition with strong Platonic leanings.”

8. Here and hereafter, all quotations from Ken Myers, unless otherwise attributed, are drawn from personal e-mail communication, October 9, 2007.

9. Description from the Trivium School website,

10. See

11. See

12. Veith and Kern, Classical Education, 11.

13. Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” available at

14. The notion of “liberal arts” as opposed to “practical arts” first developed in Greece, and by the early Middle Ages had been summed up in seven subjects divided into the Trivium (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music). On this development, see David L. Wagner, “The Seven Liberal Arts and Classical Scholarship” in The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages, ed. David Wagner (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986), 3–31; see also Paul Abelson, The Seven Liberal Arts: A Study in Medieval Culture (New York: Columbia Teacher’s College, 1906), 1–10.

15. Sayers, “Lost Tools.”

16. Ibid.

17. Wilson, “A Review of Wisdom and Eloquence,” Classis (August 2007), 1.

18. Wilson recounts the formation of Logos School and its associated organizations in The Cast for Classical Christian Education (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), chapter 10. See also Veith and Kern, Classical Education, chapter 3.

19. Veith and Kern, Classical Education, 18.20. Statistics provided by ACCS executive director Patch Blakey.

21. Littlejohn and Evans, Wisdom and Eloquence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 39, 74, 115.

22. Here and hereafter, all quotations from Gene Veith, unless otherwise attributed, are drawn from personal e-mail communication, October 30, 2007.

23. Veith and Kern, Classical Education, 25.

24. Personal e-mail communication, October 9, 2007.

25. Personal e-mail communication, November 2, 2007.

26. Personal e-mail communication, November 2, 2007.

27. Quoted in Veith and Kern, Classical Education, 30.

28. The most thorough introduction to these versions of classical education can be found in Veith and Kern, Classical Education.

29. Information from National Center for Education Statistics, for fall 2006, available at

30. From the SCL website,

31. Letter to the editor, Classis, forthcoming, provided by ACCS executive director Patch Blakey.

32. Wilson, The Case For Classical Christian Education, chapter 3.

33. Veith and Kern, Classical Education, 10.

34. See Kraig Beyerlein, “Educational Elites and the Movement to Secularize Public Education: The Case of the National Education Association,” in The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life, ed. Christian Smith (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003), 160–96.

35. George M. Thomas, Lisa R. Peck, and Channin G. De Haan, “Reforming Education, Transforming Religion, 1876–1931,” in Smith, Secular Revolution (see note 34), 355–94.

36. This connection is neatly, sometimes profoundly, examined by Roger Lundin, From Nature to Experience: The American Search for Cultural Authority (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

37. Lee Pearcy, The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2005), 65–71.

38. Ibid., 61.

39. Ibid., 46.

40. Quoted in ibid., 47.

41. Ibid., 52.

42. Quoted in ibid., 52.

43. Quoted in ibid., 53.

44. Ibid., 71.

45. Quoted in Franco, Michael Oakeshott, 119.

46. See the Schola Classical Tutorials website,

47. Scholegium 2:18 (September 26, 2007), available at

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  1. I remember reading this article when it came out, when I was an ISI honors fellow, and thinking it was pretty neat. Several years later, I would become a teacher at a classical school! Leithart hits several good nails on the head here, including progress needing to be made on the Greco-Roman humanities front and the danger of being co-opted by the cultural warriors.

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