Monday, June 30, 2008

Voices in the conversation

At Classical Conversations, education is built around voices: voices in recitation, voices in conversation, voices echoing in celebration.

My education--and I don't mean just my formal education--has been influenced by many voices. These are the thoughts I bring to conversations between myself and authors.

As a prolific reader, devoted to gleaning tips and tricks to equip Christians to educate their children well, I am easily influenced by Austen, Angelou, and Kipling. They all had a lot to say about families, church, government, and educating children.

As a Christian, I am prejudiced toward the church equipping parents to teach children to hide God’s word in their heart. That implies rigorous academics, as C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and Tyndale said.

Because I am interested in excellence in academics for families, I am required to look at the successes of the only place and period of time where all families read well. So, I read Neil Postman, who described that defining era in early American history as the Age of Typography.

Washington, Jefferson, and Adams all wrote about that period of education. I also read Douglas Wilson with his practical advice on building classical, Christian academies. My collection of nineteenth century American textbooks confirms the content children learned.

I am trying to determine how to help the church recover its mandate to educate, so I read authors who are interested in the same question. Augustine, Aquinas, and Tyndale offer many ideas as do modern writers like Wilhoit, Farley, Burgess, Ward, and Holmes.

And I cannot forget the secularists. Bennett, Hirsh, Adler (even after his conversion), and Damon cry out for a return to the classics and a classical education, and they try to get the state to comply.

I am required to be well read if I am to address the ideological and practical outcomes of equipping tired, overworked parents to consider developing the habit of living for Christ within their family.

What voices have influenced you as an educator and student? Click on "comments" to add your thoughts to the conversation.

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