Thursday, October 13, 2011

Classical Education: Part II

This is Part II in a series on Classical Education written by Troy Wathen.  For Part I click here.  Troy is our Associate Director as well as a Lower Middle School teacher on Track A.  He and his wife, Summer, moved here recently with their two daughters, Faith Marie and Grace.  Both girls are in Lower  Middle School.






Last year I read a book entitled Education for Human Flourishing because the title captured an idea that I had been stewing on for a few years. The conception of education for human flourishing is essentially why I believe classical education is so important in this age of technological and cultural change. Though the world around us is changing at what seems a break-neck speed, there are many truths that remain constant. While technology can increase our productivity, leading to profitability and increased wealth, many are still finding that happiness is fleeting. Don’t get me wrong. Classical education is not the answer to all of modernity’s ills. However, as a model for fostering a life that flourishes, I have found no better educational philosophy.

At this point, a classically educated student would be encouraged to point out that I cannot make such a bold claim without supporting evidence. The reason classical education leads towards human flourishing is that we seek to offer an education that trains how to think and communicate rather than one focused on isolated subjects. Teachers in classical schools should recognize that their subjects are students even though the content of their teaching may be a certain field of study. It is important that students learn content, but it is far more important in this changing society that they learn how to process the content and how to integrate that content into their existing schema. When students are equipped with these skills to process new information, they have more potential to flourish as humans because they are better able to adapt to a changing environment.

Classically educated students also flourish because they are taught to enjoy a rich and robust historic, literary, artistic, and musical curriculum. It is common for the children of SLO Classical Academy to recognize and enjoy great art and literature. This enjoyment, in turn, leads to a fulfilling life of meaningful leisure as well as a deep appreciation for beauty. When education is seen as job training or preparation for a test, the true benefit is lost and a cheap façade is presented in its place. When the goal is a well-rounded and deeply rooted education of the whole child for a life of human flourishing, education becomes a lifelong pursuit of those timeless virtues that produce a byproduct of happiness in the midst of the winds of change.

Stay tuned for my next issue on “why we do what we do” where I will discuss questions such as, “why Latin,” “why logic,” and “why 
rhetoric?”

Thank you, Troy! Next he'll share Part III of our series on Classical Education.  Just a reminder that Friday at 1PM  the PIE Team is hosting a session on workboxes.  Parents who currently use this system will be on hand to answer questions and explain how they use workboxes to keep organized.  Meet in the Lewis Library.

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