Classical education still has a place in the modern classroom
- Dana Weeks, the head of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, describes for EdSurge how a classical education is still relevant to a modern world, and how its two guiding principles — wisdom and virtue — are needed in education now more than ever.
- Classical education provides a moral framework for academic excellence, critical thinking and thoughtful inquiry, which is much-needed as students learn to shape policy, fight injustice and put modern technology to use in productive and beneficial ways.
- Traditional classical education focuses on Western Civilization, but a modern approach to classical education can incorporate the lessons of wisdom and virtue from other cultures as well to prepare students to serve in a global community.
Classical education is in the midst of a resurgence of popularity in private, home school and charter school communities. Now, some public school leaders are taking another look at this method of education that flourished for centuries. There are many aspects of classical education that survived because they succeeded so well in teaching students how to acquire basic knowledge, how to think critically, and how to express ideas in ways that command respect.
In an age where knowledge has overtaken wisdom and virtue is becoming a rare commodity, the core values of classical education are finding a place in modern education. The creation of the Internet and the formation of social media have opened the floodgates of information, but the debris of misinformation is coming through, as well. More than ever, students need a knowledge of rhetoric and logic to sift through the flood waters. Civility is clearly needed in the arena of modern discourse and classical education principles encourages that as well.
Classical education, which traditionally focuses on Western Civilization, does not preclude the inclusion of studies and ideas from other cultures in a global society. However, modern education is already acknowledging the need for the basics of classical education as these ideas continue to reappear in other guises. Self-regulation, one of the core values of critical thinking, is a big part of modern social-emotional learning, and the modern "deeper learning" movement encapsulates many classical education ideals. By re-examining the history and aims of classical education, modern school leaders may find valuable ways to help students not only obtain knowledge more effectively, but also use that knowledge wisely in the formation of a more virtuous and just civilization.