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Detailed Distinctives

February 7, 2009

This is a part of a larger paper that I am finishing and will post soon, but for now I am including an addition to the 7 distinctive points with a little more detail for each. 

1.  Classical education is eternal versus progressive.  Modern progressive schools are marked by change insofar as they conform to the dominant ideologies of the day rendering their values and effects temporal.  Classical education is constituted by a fixed and unchanging vision of meaning and purpose enabling it to effect true reform.

2.  Classical education is adult oriented versus child centered.  Modern progressive schools begin with a rejection of tradition and authority in favor of attending to the psychology of the child.  The effect this has upon the curriculum is the use of highly unstable content serving an experimental function that must adapt with the accepted notions of child psychology.  Classical education accepts the authority of the past and works to shape the child to the matured and stable form of the adult.  Children grow to become men and women, which provide the instructional assurance of what a child should become as opposed to what they may happen to be at the moment.

 

3.  Classical education honors versus measures the nature of a child.  Modern progressive education is consumed by data.  It observes only what can be measured, gives preference to the repetitive, and directs attention to performance.  Classical education attends to the nature of the soul.  As an organic discipline it works to cultivate the well formed soul that marks the happy life.

4.  Classical education is the moral versus vocational training of the child.  Modern progressive education instills specialized skills to prepare a child for a particular career, and by doing so limits both his skills and his knowledge.  Classical education is the moral training of a child toward the completeness of being of one who is filled with the ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness.  It is the training that prepares one for the good life, not a good job.

 

5.  Classical education is thought driven versus content driven.  Modern progressive education is generated by the accumulation and categorization of facts.  The child is strictly taught what to think with the effect of producing isolated and fragmented knowledge.  Classical education is governed by ideas.  The child is taught how to think in order to cultivate integrated patterns of thought.

 

6.  Classical education accepts nature and knowledge versus rejecting nature and knowledge.  Modern progressive education is essentially utilitarian.  The child, curriculum, knowledge, and instruction are adapted for the production of a specialized product.  The question is not concerned with what something is, but with what it may effect.  Classical education is rooted in ontology.  The nature of things is accepted as given and can be known by the observer.  What a thing is does not deviate nor conflict with what it can be.

 

7.  Classical education is for freedom versus slavery.  Modern progressive education produces individuals who are subject to the norms of modern society functioning much as mechanical parts to the social-political machine.  The result is an oppressed soul.  Classical education is not confined to social norms, but cultivates men and women who are free.  The result is a human soul that is able to know and partake in the leisure of the wise and virtuous life.

 Buck

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