Monday, June 4, 2007

Ancient Greece and a Classical Christian Education


Classical Christian schools are undergoing a revival in the United States, jumpstarted from Douglas Wilson's Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning in 1991 and Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind in 1999. Of course, more continuous history of classical Christian education can be traced from classical Catholic educators.

The question of how to incorporate ancient Greek history, mythology, and philosophy often arises between different groups as well as different parents and educators. Here are some reflections from a book I'm reading by Gilbert Highet: "We read them not because they are "historic," but because they teach us, they make us think. Nowhere else in the entire literature of the world, in any language or any single period is there such a rich, varied, and deeply thoughtful collection of books as those produced by the Greeks and their successors the Romans...A wise man of our own time was once asked what was the single greatest contribution of Greece to the world's welfare. He replied "The greatest invention of the Greeks was (or "on the one hand") and ("on the other hand"). Without these two balances, we cannot think. The Greeks therefore taught one another, by thinking and talking, and writing."

Highet adds, "One of the chief pleasures of studying aesthetic and intellectual history is to see how their ideas...reappear in distant times...If we open Dante's Comedy...we recognize the moral system of the Greek philsopher Aristotle. If we see Shakespeare's Macbeth, we reflect that form of the tragedy and its basic sense were both created by the poets of Greece. The balance of powers on which the American constitution rests was first formulated by a Greek historical thinker, and Greek teachers first stated that lofty ideal, the brotherhood of man..."

And we all live among ancient Greek thinkers, today. One does not have to look far to find Stoics, Sophists, Skeptics, Aristotelians, Platonists, and Epicureans. Recently, John Mark Reynolds posted a rebuttal to a Heart of Wisdom article that suggested "adoption of classical methods but rejection of classical literature." In the spirit of and , I invite you to read and reason through both.

Certainly there are different ages when it would more appropriate to introduce the people and philosophical debates of ancient Greece, but Highet is right. If we teach ancient Greece as only a collection of historical facts, we have missed important lessons for our next generation.

2 comments:

Oscar1986 said...

realy cool blog, love it!!!! God bless you guys :)check out my blog if you like, love to hear what any other bloggers think

Rachael said...

We have been using the bible to teach so many life lessons and the message of God for centuries, so this article makes perfect sense. It is a place to start...

A great book I have used to start teaching the bible to children is with this great book called - "This Bible Talks!" by Pamela Fischer and Narrated by Michael David McGuire. Mrs. Fischer is a devote Catholic and has shown how important religious education can be, especially at a very early age.

This post made me think of this book so I would thought I would share...here is where I ordered the book for myself: http://www.thisbibletalks.com

I really enjoyed looking around your blog. God Bless!

Previous Latin Sayings of the Week

"Soli deo gloria." - For the glory of God alone.


Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit! - Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!



"Lex malla, lex nulla." - St. Thomas Aquinas
(A bad law is no law.)


"Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus. " - Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.


"Caelitus mihi vires." - My strength is from heaven.

"Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo Salvatore meo" - My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:45)

In Omnibus Ipse Primatum Tenens “That in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18)


"Qui bene cantat bis orat." - He who sings well, prays twice - (St Augustine)

"Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te." -
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. (St Augustine)

"Caelitus mihi vires
." - My strength is from heaven.

"Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est." - Where there is charity and love, God is there.

"Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis ."

Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. - St Augustine

"Deo vindice" - With God as Protector


"Credite amori vera dicenti." - Believe love speaking the truth. (St. Jerome)


De vitiis nostris scalam nobis facimus, si vitia ipsa calcamus." - If we tread our vices under feet, we make them a ladder to rise to higher things. (St. Augustine)

Dei gratia - By the grace of God

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. - The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Dei plena sunt omnia." - Cicero (All things are full of God.)