Here's a vigorous critique of contemporary (chiefly American) education and a call to return to the Classics. It's a book review from Oregon State University's 'Daily Barometer'.
Building bridges to the fifth century B.C. and beyond
by Nathanael Blake
The Daily Barometer
“Anyone setting out to defend what Jay Albert Nock once called 'the grand old fortifying classical curriculum' — essentially Greek and Latin — does so knowing that he flies the tattered flag of a lost cause.” Tracy Lee Simmons begins his book “Climbing Parnassus” with this appraisal, and proceeds to raise that banner over the beleaguered barricades of classical education.
The triumph of the campaign against Western Civilization may be seen at our own school. OSU offers no courses in the languages that began our culture, preferring to spend its resources on courses like “NFM216 — Food in Non-Western Culture,” “PHL599 — 002 — Feminist Epistemology,” “EXSS475 — Power and Privilege in Sport,” and “WS299 — Witches, Midwives, and Healers.”
Against such anti-intellectual debasement of education, Mr. Simmons sets a robust vision that challenges students to greatness. For though few students have the capacity to excel, “When aims are pitched high, even a partial failure leads to ultimate success. The climb itself builds muscles, even if we don't reach the top.”
Most everyone agrees that education in America is a mess. But the solutions generally offered (from the left — more money; from the right — more accountability) don't consider that the problem may not lie in the execution but in the ideal.
Few today consider the radical difference between today's educational methods and curriculum and that of classical education. Many cannot even define a classical education: the study of the great languages and literature (from the poetic to the philosophical) of Western Civilization.
“Climbing Parnassus” makes its case in clear prose, and relying on authority beyond the author's own, it regularly bolsters its case by citing luminaries spanning from Plato and Socrates to T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis. Simmons' first task is to critique modern education, and in this, as he warns in the preface, “A few forbidden things.”
He leads with a withering critique of our education system and the culture it is spawning. He relates W.H. Auden's musings over what the ancients might think of us: “Yes, I can see all the works of a great civilization, but why cannot I meet any civilized persons? I only encounter specialists, artists who know nothing of science, scientists who know nothing of art, philosophers who have no interest in God, priests who are unconcerned with politics, politicians who know only other politicians.”
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