What is Classical Education?

Thinking about education throughout history in the Western World, we can make some general observations.   The tendency of secularism and profusion of modern sciences, has pushed ever farther toward the pragmatic end of education and farther from the ideal end.   One strange question that appears as an orphan child in a crowded airport, is “what is the purpose of Man?”    We understand this question as an orphan since purpose and Man, two terms, one extrinsic and the other universal and intrinsic, are no longer commonly understood.

Man’s purpose is multiform in the modern eye, since he does many things.  The question in modern education has something to do with ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’.  Classical education realizes that you already are something that needs forming and leading in order to the best potential of that thing.  He has an ideal purpose, and it is one.

What is Man?  Once, man was specified as the rational animal.   As he learned more, he could do more, and in doing he became preoccupied with his advancing alienation.   Doing is not the same thing as being.  Man leads with his will, informed by his desires, which he reasons toward.  Classical education recognizes the will, the reason, and the desire.  We discipline the soul, we form the mind, and cultivate the desires.

Secularism alienates.   The world pulled apart into rational and spiritual concerns never completely satisfies, making man a stranger in both distilled environments.

The Profusion of Sciences absorbs and self perpetuates.   Specialization produces the culture of the trained savage and the guild of the obscurantist.

By listening to the lessons of antiquity alongside the current, we honor the experience of humanity, and make room for wisdom.