I loved this New Yorker piece on memorisation.
I have developed a number of freely printable worksheets for use in learning Latin using the Canon Press “Latin Primer” series.
The page is here and contains links to my dropbox where I am developing these resources: http://schuller.id.au/canon-press-latin-primer-resources/
I hope they will be useful to anyone learning Latin using these textbooks. We are currently up to the third textbook and I will keep updating the worksheets as I create them.
I highly recommend the Latin Primer textbook series. They are based on a Trivium model of learning with a high level of memorisation from the beginning. They are beautifully presented modern text books using a classical style of learning the language from the grammar up.
Good analysis and critique of modern educational values and literacy:
If the twentieth century was called the Age of Anxiety, the twenty-first should be called the Age of Ignorance. To coin (or rather, purloin) a phrase, never in human history has so much knowledge been available and accessible, and yet so little curiosity or effort been expended by so many in response to it.
Interesting article. I can think of even two more significant reasons: Firstly the Bible is true. Secondly, only the Bible can provide the worldview coherence that education necessitates.
Why? Why shouldn’t elements of the Bible be taught in public schools? It has had an unparalleled impact on Western culture, history, music, the arts, politics, morality, law and literature. Are we embarrassed about our country’s foundations or, worse, have we become intellectual cowards?
Is this Australia’s first ‘new breed’ classical Christian school?
Would love to see more of these…
Classical education involves understanding the present by learning about the past through history, philosophy, theology, literature, art, Latin, Greek, logic and rhetoric. Students see an integrated big picture of Western Culture from a Christian worldview – which has a strong moral code and traditionally a high benchmark of excellence and appreciation of beauty, as well as a foundational belief in absolutism; there is a right way and a wrong way. Maths and Science, reflecting God’s character, are also strongly integrated into this big picture, distinguishing classical education from a liberal arts education.
via St Augustines.
Another article related to a classical or liberal arts education – this time at the tertiary level.
I find myself surprisingly in agreement with Singer’s appreciation of the humanities. My hunch though is that our current ‘job factory’ culture within university education is a direct fruit of utilitarianism. In contrast, a theistic worldview drives you participate in Adler’s “Great Conversation“.
The idea of a liberal arts education goes back more than 2000 years to Plato’s Academy. It holds that an educated citizen in a free society should have a grounding in philosophy, history, literature, the sciences, maths, foreign languages, politics and fine arts. We might say that it attempts to answer the broad questions that Gauguin put into the title of one of his paintings (a title that he in turn took from a Catholic catechism): Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? This kind of education does not train you in a profession, but it gives you an intellectual foundation to use throughout your life, whether you decide to go into medicine, law, business, engineering, or any other occupation.
Good article. Wish I had learnt Latin and Greek in school.
Educators once believed in the classical education very strongly. Little more than a generation ago you could not get into Oxford or Cambridge without demonstrating competency in Latin, and practically every Western historical figure and writer until the 1950s was taught the classics from an early age. The line of thinking that we don't need to learn Latin and Greek because they are too hard, irrelevant, not useful or not the languages of the future would have been regarded as the argument of philistines.
He is a bit hippy for me, but I resonated with Leunig’s home schooling comments: Michael Leunig Home Schooling.
A surprising intersection of two of my interests – classical education and technology….
I really enjoyed this article from Kevin Bauder on “Liberal Education“. Some people call it a “liberal arts” education, others call it a ‘classical’ or even ‘classical Christian’ education. If you read the biographies of the magisterial Reformers, right up unto recent great ones such as C. S. Lewis or John Stott, this is the education they had.
Kevin Bauder argues in “Liberal Education” that colleges and seminaries should train pastors to think precisely, namely, to deploy “the skills of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.” Why?
A pastor’s main task is to do the work of the mind. His calling requires him to interpret texts and bring them to bear upon the issues of life. In other words, a pastor is constantly confronting ideas. He stands as a bridge between the ideas in the world of the Bible and the ideas with which his congregation is, or ought to be, wrestling. In short, a pastor’s main work is to think.
This is so Geelong Grammar. Why would you ever send your kids to Geelong Grammar? Geelong Grammar really has something to answer for here.
Unfortunately for the 21-year-old, former Geelong Grammar schoolboy, his dream spun off the road.
A teenager graduates from the University of Texas this weekend at 16, an age when most students have yet to receive their high school diplomas.
Well done to MS Readathon for sending my kids actual books in the mail this week for their involvement in the readathon. Much better than the plastic junky toys we go last year!
One of the best things about entering the MS Readathon program is earning cool cool rewards while helping Australians living with MS. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ for all your hard work!
What does the creation of this mega federal department say about our view of education in Australia? State education seems to naturally shackle the search for truth and meaning into being simply preparation for being a good worker-consumer.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) was created on 3 December 2007, bringing together elements of the former Departments of Education, Science and Training, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Youth and Early Childhood functions from the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
From todays Christian Religious Education material, “Quest”, Unit 5, session 1:
“Clarify: Egypt – where the Israelites were Pharoah’s unpaid workers for many years”
Do grade 5 + 6 not understand the concept of slavery? Is it offensive?
The Exodus was not a workers union movement. Not to mention we jump into Numbers out of nowhere, then do Nehemiah the next week, and the following week back to Numbers. Why not just do books of the Bible in chronological sequence? I know that “educational experts” have put together this material, but it seems to be missing some common sense.
I love teaching CRE, but this is really frustrating.
Pseudonymous rant or valid criticism?
I was amazed to discover that most of my students, regardless of year level, did not even come close to knowing their times tables. Having since grown used to the ineptitude of my students, from time to time I catch myself observing with surprise the ability of a shop assistant working out change in their head or a friend mentally dividing a restaurant bill. Skills that were once nearly universal, regardless of intelligence or higher educational status, are uncommon in today’s school-leavers.
Conservative commentators are correct, to a degree, to apportion blame to the influence of socialist ideology, which is thoroughly entrenched in the system through an unholy trinity of the Australian Education Union, teacher educators and bureaucrats of the state education departments.
This floored me this morning. I would have hoped that an evangelical grammar school would be one of the last bastions of a classical body-of-canonical-knowledge education. Does this mean that such elite schools in Australia have been totally utilitarianised?
THE head of one of the nation’s elite private schools has questioned whether English should be compulsory for the senior years, saying the courses being taught are beyond the intellectual ability of most students.
What is behind the ascension of the world “play” into our education theory?
Everyone is “learning through play”, parents are encouraged to relate to the kids through play. All the kindergartens we have been involved in downplay any structured teaching they might do at the expensive of learning through play.
Surely it just reflects our entertainment driven society?
Are there any pedagogical play pushers outside Western countries? Before the 20th C?
How long before this creeps further up the educational process?
Exception: Playing Quakeworld does teach you operating systems, networking, command line shell scripting, hand eye coordination etc.
Education quote of the week:
“It isn’t dumbing down the curriculum, it is allowing students to be successful,” he said. Mr Uphill said the memo followed a meeting with an officer from the Senior Secondary Assessment Board during Term 1 this year to review the school’s 2007 results.
Last night I read Helen Hughes full monograph (see link below). I can’t pretend to come close to knowing all the solutions to such complex indigenous, cultural and educational issues. But I do know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the solution to all the failed endeavors of human autonomy. Some observations from her study:
- The ability of our government to throw good money after bad is incredible. The benchmarked outcome testing is quite variable and what there was shows there has been no improvement at all this decade. This is a failure of the gods of secularism.
- As a Christian I was fascinated to see her comment in passing that the most literate and numerate in some of the most remote communities were the older generation who were part of Christian missionary schools.
- There is certainly no educational neutrality myth propounded in the NT education department. For example, they gave a grant of $159,713 for a project to develop an “algebra pedagogy that reflects the world view of indigenous students” – how is this not patronising? The problem here is not with the indigenous worldview but the idol of secular paternalism.
- The whole study was extremely saddening and depressing. In seeking to protect a culture we are destroying it. Cultures cannot be put on a pedestal. They must be transformed by the Lordship of Christ or deformed by sin. There is no middle ground.
If you are a Christian teacher with a heart for mission, there are many opportunities around Australia right now…
Policy Monograph 83
Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory
With the numeracy and literacy skills of five-year-olds, ten thousand indigenous teenagers and young men and women are unemployable because of the educational failures of the last decade. [read more]
Other articles on Hughes report:
(I haven’t actually found a Fairfax press article on the actual Hughes report???)
I too share some pessimism toward the “whole language” approach to teaching reading. But Janet Albrechtson is wrong to say that phonics is not a politically driven agenda. In fact she herself makes it political by tying it to indigenous issues. She may be correct, but she is certainly being political and ideological. That’s because no educational theory or methodology is worldview neutral. Every educator is a preacher, implicitly or explicitly so. Every classroom is a pulpit, for better for worse, in sickness and in health.
And just imagine if Julia Gillard, the education revolution minister from the Labor Party’s left faction no less, chose to confront the ideological critics of phonics? If Rudd and Gillard are serious about an education revolution, let it begin in the classrooms of indigenous children. Let it begin by telling it like it is. Learning the sounds that make up words is not a politically driven agenda. It is about literacy. It is the key to social mobility. Until that small step is taken, indigenous children will continue to suffer.
One area of education that would seem most worldview-neutral is mathematics. But the following video critique of newer maths methods used in the USA for multiplication and long division show how even maths is influenced by educational methodology and worldview.
At a glance, it would seem the driving methodology critiqued in this video is the desire to avoid traditional algorithms that require mastery through hard work and repeated practice, and settling for simpler methods that are less demanding. Is that driven by a worldview that shuns creating hierarchies of ability and protects individual esteem at all costs? I have no idea, just a theory.
She even explicitly quotes from the teachers manuals that say they avoid the superior but hard work requiring techniques precisely because some students will be “doomed to failure” and can simply use a calculator. Mathematics is an objective science, but this science is spoiled if it is taught in such a way to meet the lowest common denominator (pun intended). After all, “doomed” is a meaning-laden term – who is doomed in your worldview?
Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth (Youtube – 15 minutes)
Al Mohler reflects on secular liberal animosity toward homeschooling in California: Overt Hostility toward Homeschoolers
In this “older” book, published in 1991, Douglas Wilson writes thoughtfully on the topic of Christian education. Education is an important and sometimes emotive topic. Wilson’s big argument is that the responsibility of educating children is with parents. Not that you have to do it yourself, but that God holds parents responsible (not governments, primarily) for the way their children are educated.
Part of Wilson’s credentials include the starting of a Christian school, a university college, and also a classical Christian education association in America that has founded about 200 schools with about 30,000 students.
Wilson suggests this biblical responsibility is often shirked or treated lightly:
“Unfortunately, some Christian parents feel they have met their obligation to educate their children if they simply send them off to public school, provided they also go to Sunday school”, p47.
The worldview of the teacher and the curriculum is significant:
“[A teacher’s] task is to help [parents] shape the way the child thinks about the world. Does God exist? If He exists, is His existence relevant to the classroom? And what is the nature of man? What is the purpose of society? How did man get here? Where should he go? How can he conduct himself on the way? None of these questions can be answered without certain worldview assumptions, and the parents in this example do not even know whether they share the worldview of their child’s teacher”, p57.
“God is the Light in which we see and understand everything else. Without Him, the universe is a fragmented pile of incomprehensible particulars. Indeed, the universe can no longer be understood as a universe; it has become a multiverse. Christian education must therefore present all subjects as part of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center. Without this integration, the curriculum will be nothing more than a dumping ground for unrelated facts. When God is acknowledged, all knowledge coheres”, p59.
“Education is a completely religious endeavor. It is impossible to impart knowledge to students without building on religious presuppositions. Education is built on the foundation of the instructor’s worldview (and the worldview of those who developed the curriculum). It is a myth that education can be nonreligious – that is, that education can go on in a vacuum that deliberately excludes the basic questions about life. It is not possible to separate religious values from education. This is because all the fundamental questions of education require religious answers. Learning to read and write is simply the process of acquiring tools to enable us to ask and answer such questions”, p59.
There is something in the above that makes me want to say Amen. Postmodernism keeps telling us there are no neutral worldviews, that everyone has a bias etc. But does Wilson lack a sufficiently positive creation theology? Surely if the Christian worldview is true, that is the basic of a kind of “neutral” (true) worldview, even when that God is not acknowledged? Wilson is pessimistic, for example:
“When traditional morals are adopted for their utilitarian value, the foundation for true morals has been destroyed. We cannot turn the public schools around by trying to turn the kids into Judeo/Christians. From the Biblical perspective, morals aren’t even moral when they are embraced for their side effects. In the Christian view, the truly moral thing is what is done for the glory of God”, p142.
This statement’s premise is true but I disagree with the conclusion. There is an intrinsic glory to God when his wisdom in creation is shown forth as it is discovered and utilised, even when he is not explicitly acknowledged. It is an inferior means of glorifying God, but a valid one nonetheless. This is a shaky foundation upon which to build a rejection of public schooling.
He challenges the modern strategy behind teacher training in the USA:
“A prevailing belief within education colleges holds that teachers need to be taught the methodology of teaching instead of mastering the subject matter they will teach. Thus, someone with a degree in education may teach mathematics, English, history, and the like. Someone with a degree in mathematics could not teach history – unless it is at the university level. In other words, education is considered a field of study all by itself, the study of which will enable one to teach things he has not studied. We require of our teachers a knowledge of how to impart information; we do not require them to have a thorough grasp of that information”, p137.
He quotes Harris on some of the potential problems of Christian schools:
“many Christian schools reveal double-mindedness. They want to give Christian children a Godly moral environment while they enrol non-Christian students in the interest of evangelism. The two ministry missions fight against each other and betray Christian parents”, p125.
Also, many attempts at Christian schooling is simply a
“baptized secularism. It is not enough to take the curricula of the government schools, add prayer and a Bible class, and claim the result in somehow Christian”, p62, see also p97.
He describes his own Christian school in this way:
“in our Bible classes the students frequently challenge or question the Christian faith. This happens regularly, and when it does, the students are encouraged and their questions are answered… The students are taught to think in terms of the Christian faith. This is what makes it possible for them to think at all. It is not propagandizing when teachers give their students a place to stand. Relativism has only the appearance of openness; in the end, it always frustrates the one who wants to acquire knowledge”, p61.
Wilson’s model is of classical education using the medieval trivium model of an education in the liberal arts. The goal of his educational model is not merely the propagation of information but the impartation and training in the tools of learning and critical thinking from within a Christian worldview.
So although a schools aim is to produce Christian students, we shouldn’t set too high a spiritual agenda for our Christian schools:
“Christian education prepares the way for the grace of God, and it follows up the grace of God. It does not replace it“, p76.
Unlike in Australia, American Christians are turning to home-schooling because of the public education crisis. Wilson then turns his targets toward Christian home-schoolers:
“But there seems to be a prejudice among some home schoolers against ‘forced learning,’ and the prejudice appears to be based on an overly optimistic view of the child’s innate love of learning. For example, one advocate of home schools writes, ‘Deep within, your children already naturally, organically love to learn. Let them intrinsically – inside themselves – feel the joy and excitement, because therein lay (sic) the true, natural, most highly motivating reward – and the most highly effective learning. Once you and they are able to rekindle that joy they were born with, motivation and learning for them will never cease.’ I am afraid that there is more than a little sentimentalism here, with the nature and power of sin being overlooked. Many children need to be disciplined in an intellectual way early. If they are not, then the opportunity is lost; a mental laziness is already habitual”, p128.
The above attitude is one we have encounted in many (not all) home schoolers we have met, especially among those of a more anti-institutional bent.
He puts forth the increasing difficulty of homeschooling as children get older:
“Many parents can do an outstanding job the first several years. But it is one thing to teach your five-year old how to read and quite another to teach Latin to an eleven-year-old… The reason home schooling works so well at the early years is that the parents are teaching literacy, and they are all literate. This is not true of subjects later in the curriculum“, p129.
It is not enough for home schoolers to be content on the studies that show outstanding comparative test results because:
“part of the reason home schoolers are capable of outperforming the public schools [in the USA] has to do with the horrible condition of the schools”, p130.
This is a challenging and stimulating book. Even if you don’t buy into his negativity concerning public education, the question is: where else are there Christians producing such thoughtful critiques of modern secular education’s philosophy, methodology and results? Where are the thoughtful Christian teachers doing that in Australia?
Harry Mount author of “Amo, Amas, Amat And All That – How To Become A Latin Lover” writes in the Daily Mail:
As last week’s Ofsted report showed, more than half of England’s schools are failing to provide children with a good standard of education. A third of a million children leave school every year without a basic understanding of maths and English.
This is why there is a boom in self-help books such as mine, and Eats, Shoots And Leaves, Lynne Truss’s surprise hit of Christmas 2004, which instructs you about grammar and punctuation and has now sold three million copies. The success of authors like us depends on education’s failure.
Latin not only helps you with simple things like the storylines of English literature, so heavily based on classical stories. It also helps you to understand the classically-schooled minds of those who wrote great English literature – for half a millennium up until the 19th century, Latin was the mark of the educated man.
I really enjoyed reading Mount’s book. As far an language grammars go it is a little seedy at points, but it is a lot of fun. Not yet convinced about the value of Latin. Though it is much more stimulating than our current federal election education debates, which seem woefully limited to who can most cheaply produce the most worker-consumers.