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Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education

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A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismiss A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismissing notions that classical education is elitist and irrelevant, Hicks argues that the classical tradition can meet the needs of our increasingly technological society as well as serve as a feasible model for mass education.


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A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismiss A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismissing notions that classical education is elitist and irrelevant, Hicks argues that the classical tradition can meet the needs of our increasingly technological society as well as serve as a feasible model for mass education.

30 review for Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    Sixteen years ago, I bought this book and took it to the hospital to read after giving birth to my youngest son. The hormones were not right. I came home and sold the book. I could not understand one sentence. Trusting all those smart people I followed around I dished out the $40.00 to re-buy it a couple years after that. I committed to blogging through my reading of the book and that helped tremendously. Since then I have read Norms and Nobility several times and modeled my high school after hi Sixteen years ago, I bought this book and took it to the hospital to read after giving birth to my youngest son. The hormones were not right. I came home and sold the book. I could not understand one sentence. Trusting all those smart people I followed around I dished out the $40.00 to re-buy it a couple years after that. I committed to blogging through my reading of the book and that helped tremendously. Since then I have read Norms and Nobility several times and modeled my high school after his models as best I could. In one of those unforeseen enchantments of life, I now count David Hicks as a personal friend. And now I have finished reading this book one more time. This time I understood much more than the time before. I have gone from babyhood in my understanding to twenty-something. Perhaps, I will never fully be grown-up enough to grasp it all. My own education has been left almost entirely in my own hands. I do wonder if there are any real schools following this model. It is a beautiful one which grasps so much of what is missing in the morass of ideas parading around as education. "In fact, our modern educational establishment is expert at treating symptoms, at describing a disease exactly with its marvelous tools of analysis, while ignoring the invisible causes." Think about that quote the next time you get in a debate over some issue or even when you start to grapple with an issue in your own mind. Your analysis is your problem. You are awash in too much information to clearly see any causes. This one would do with yearly readings.

  2. 4 out of 5

    M.G. Bianco

    This was another book that took me some time to read. Norms and Nobility is a 157 page book that costs $47. The price tag on such a small book will scare people off from reading it. However, I must commend it to anyone who can get their hands on it. Norms and Nobility is filled with wisdom and depth, there is no superfluity in the book, you will get every penny of your $47 out of this book. The first two-thirds of the book is about the ideas behind classical education. The second one-third is a This was another book that took me some time to read. Norms and Nobility is a 157 page book that costs $47. The price tag on such a small book will scare people off from reading it. However, I must commend it to anyone who can get their hands on it. Norms and Nobility is filled with wisdom and depth, there is no superfluity in the book, you will get every penny of your $47 out of this book. The first two-thirds of the book is about the ideas behind classical education. The second one-third is a practical discussion of the implementation of classical education. Author David Hicks hits on every point you could possibly think of in regards to classical education. He will challenge how you think of education; he will question your modern suppositions. One of the main ways in which this book has challenged me is to change the way I approach teaching. My modern suppositions make me want to lecture my students, this comes naturally to me because it is the way I was taught. However, it is actually a quite unnatural way to teach and to learn. Hicks argues that we need to make myths of the truths we are learning. That to present data (or norms, more importantly) as a list of dos and don'ts is to teach unnaturally. Better, we create myths of the norms (as Homer did with heroism in The Iliad) or as God has done with the norms of the Bible (think of adultery being best taught through the story of David and Bathsheba). The real challenge is to learn to do that with those subjects that aren't naturally myths, the maths and sciences. Literature and history are naturally in myth form, making it easier to teach them that way. But the maths and sciences will take effort. This is our challenge. A second way Hicks has challenged my thinking is to reconsider the democratic way in which classical education can be implemented. Many have argued that classical education is for the elite, that it isn't for everyone. But Hicks convincingly argues this is untrue. To Hicks, it is modern education that creates elites, although in many cases the elites have been redefined. Finally, his practical implementation for classical education is well thought out and usable. He lists books that are to be examples of the types of books to use, not the exact books that would necessarily have to be used. This gives homes and schools the freedom to modify for their individual needs and tastes. One striking note from the concluding section of the book, "Only the careless and unskilled teacher answers questions before they are asked. The teacher's chief task is to provoke the question, not to answer it; to cultivate in his students an active curiosity, not to inundate them in factual information." If this quotation doesn't resonate with or make sense to you, I challenge you to read this book--it will. This is a book that will require reading and re-reading. You will get your money's worth from this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ladydusk

    Own The start date is only sort of tongue in cheek - Amazon tells me I purchased this March 10, 2009. Sounds about right. I started (again) in January 2018 and read slowly with friends over a year and a half. They finished in June, I finished today. It was worth my time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill Courser

    Truly a mind-transforming book. Very challenging but worth the effort! One I will need to keep rereading, probably for the rest of my life. "True learning brings man to a full stature of his humanity in all his domains - the individual, the social and political, and the religious...True learning resolves the paradox between educating for the world's fight and for the soul's salvation in favor of the active life of virtue. Only a saved soul can fight the world's fight and know the cost of losing Truly a mind-transforming book. Very challenging but worth the effort! One I will need to keep rereading, probably for the rest of my life. "True learning brings man to a full stature of his humanity in all his domains - the individual, the social and political, and the religious...True learning resolves the paradox between educating for the world's fight and for the soul's salvation in favor of the active life of virtue. Only a saved soul can fight the world's fight and know the cost of losing and the value of what it has won."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angie Libert

    I decided to rate this book 5 stars, rather than 4, because it is a rare treat to find a book that has both excellent philosophical ideas, as well as practical application ideas. The authors thoughts on The Ideal Type has changed my view of the world and education. It is through discovering what the Ideal Type is that we ourselves become virtuous human beings. And it is through reading and studying history and classics that we discover what the Ideal Type is and how that Ideal affected change in I decided to rate this book 5 stars, rather than 4, because it is a rare treat to find a book that has both excellent philosophical ideas, as well as practical application ideas. The authors thoughts on The Ideal Type has changed my view of the world and education. It is through discovering what the Ideal Type is that we ourselves become virtuous human beings. And it is through reading and studying history and classics that we discover what the Ideal Type is and how that Ideal affected change in the world. I realize that this statement does not likely sound profound, but the way the author explained this idea gave me a greater depth of understanding this idea. Another concept that struck me in this book was the comparison between what "can be done" with what "ought to be done". Modern man often focuses on what can be done, rather than what ought to be done. It is through the study of the Ideal Type that we are able to distinguish between these two ideas and make better choices for ourselves, our families and our communities. The chapters on Ennobling the Masses and The Necessity of Dogma were also excellent. And the Grade 7-12 education plan appears thorough and completely doable. I would highly recommend this book to all educators!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Here is an essay that digs deep into the roots and purposes of classical education. This is not a replication exercise, i.e. how can we re-create the educative methodology of the ancient world, plonked down in our school or classroom. Rather it is a thought-out application of classical and Biblical principles from a seasoned practioner. Replete with quotable insights, the main threads are clear:- The teacher is a model not just a conveyer belt for data; Analysis is not the method of a classical ap Here is an essay that digs deep into the roots and purposes of classical education. This is not a replication exercise, i.e. how can we re-create the educative methodology of the ancient world, plonked down in our school or classroom. Rather it is a thought-out application of classical and Biblical principles from a seasoned practioner. Replete with quotable insights, the main threads are clear:- The teacher is a model not just a conveyer belt for data; Analysis is not the method of a classical approach. Analysis has too much of a scientific skew. Rather we want to learn how to ask the right questions, not supply a photocopy of the correct responses. How to think, not what to think. Method over data. Classical education inculcates a method life-long inquiry, not the mastering of a pile of information, or exam fodder. Education is after virtue, not a fuller curriculum vitae. There's loads more and it's all very good. It takes more than one read though..

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marsha B

    As I was reading I often came to many noteworthy passages, but alas public education and my own continued education has not readily prepared me for writing such as the author provides. I will revisit this soon as I hope for better understanding in future readings, at which time my star rating may improve.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Ruth Dow

    This book has altered my paradigm in regards to man and education more than any other book. I hesitated to mark it as read because I will really never be done reading this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who care that people are educated in a way that is actually consistent with who we are as human beings. I just started a yahoo group dedicated to discussing this book. I would love to have any one interested join the conversation. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/normsan... This book has altered my paradigm in regards to man and education more than any other book. I hesitated to mark it as read because I will really never be done reading this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who care that people are educated in a way that is actually consistent with who we are as human beings. I just started a yahoo group dedicated to discussing this book. I would love to have any one interested join the conversation. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/normsan...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    Really really good. It took me a long time to finish because its a book that needs to be pondered extensively. Its a challenging read but I would definitely recommend it for any homeschooling parent, especially those interested in classical, Charlotte Mason or just a good general Christian education (which I believe to all be the same thing :-) ) Worth the price!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    Finally finished this book! I feel like I only scratched the surface though and I know I must read it again. I am inspired and wish I had read it at the beginning of my homeschooling journey rather than at the end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    I first read this book in 2010 as one new to classical education. It struck me as important then, but I didn’t know enough about what I was getting into as a teacher in the tradition as a whole, or the modern “movement” that has been reviving it. I read the book again this month and was struck by how many of the questions and concerns it addresses that have arisen for me in a decade of teaching in a classical and Christian school. The culture in which we live has very few people who consider edu I first read this book in 2010 as one new to classical education. It struck me as important then, but I didn’t know enough about what I was getting into as a teacher in the tradition as a whole, or the modern “movement” that has been reviving it. I read the book again this month and was struck by how many of the questions and concerns it addresses that have arisen for me in a decade of teaching in a classical and Christian school. The culture in which we live has very few people who consider education to be a legacy to be passed on or a heritage to be transferred, but rather they see it as a chip to be cashed in for successful career and comfortable consumption. Many classical schools compromise the high calling they cast in their vision by accommodating the utilitarian expectations of the culture: high test scores, good GPA, elite scholarships, and even aspects that appear classical, but are twisted to serve utilitarian motives. Moreover, teachers who receive classical content and classical pedagogy without understanding the norms of virtue and the Ideal Man offered by the great literature and pious aims of Classical education will teach according to the utilitarian aims they have imbibed as modern students. This book and others like it are indispensable to those who are involved or wish to be involved in Classical education—far more important than Dorothy Sayers’s address on Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, and more in the realm of Abolition of Man.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I'm always reading this book and always amazed by its insights and depths. Hicks sees the point at which education has broken down, and he discusses how it happened, what could have been, and how it can be fixed. However, he wrote in 1980 and some of his predictions have been depressingly fulfilled already. If it is not too late, this book will help many of us find a path out of this dark wood we are lost in. His comparison of normative with analytical education is mind expanding, humbling, and I'm always reading this book and always amazed by its insights and depths. Hicks sees the point at which education has broken down, and he discusses how it happened, what could have been, and how it can be fixed. However, he wrote in 1980 and some of his predictions have been depressingly fulfilled already. If it is not too late, this book will help many of us find a path out of this dark wood we are lost in. His comparison of normative with analytical education is mind expanding, humbling, and very, very wise.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Jones

    There’s absolutely no way to sum up how invaluable this book has been for me. I’m positive that I’ve only gleaned the bare minimum with this first reading; I hope to re-visit it to get deeper meaning in the future. It was also such a pleasure to work through this book and wrestle with its concepts with an enormously insightful group of ladies that I love. What an amazing life!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    This book does indeed make my educator’s heart flutter. My life’s goal is to open/work in a school follow Hick’s model. I do wish that Hicks would write a version of this that’s written to us who were educated in the modern education system. ;)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandon LeBlanc

    Why haven't you read this yet? Seriously. Why haven't you read this yet? Seriously.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    This heady tome assumes the reader has a robust vocabulary and a passing familiarity of philosophy. I slugged my way through, ferreting out gems and wondering why this didn't cross my radar sooner! I was under the "inter-library loan" gun to get it read in a week, for which I am now glad. Am considering buying my own copy so I can underline and reference it. Now that Common Core is in the offing, this book is more important than ever. The author makes a strong case that a "classical" education is This heady tome assumes the reader has a robust vocabulary and a passing familiarity of philosophy. I slugged my way through, ferreting out gems and wondering why this didn't cross my radar sooner! I was under the "inter-library loan" gun to get it read in a week, for which I am now glad. Am considering buying my own copy so I can underline and reference it. Now that Common Core is in the offing, this book is more important than ever. The author makes a strong case that a "classical" education is the only education model that will preserve democracy in the long run. It is interesting to weigh the predictions and observations he made thirty years ago to today's reality. Sobering, indeed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    Favorite quotes: "True learning knows what is good, serves it above self, reproduces it, and recognizes that in knowledge lies this responsibility." "Education as paideia is not preparation for life, for college, or for work; it is our inherited means of living fully in the present, while we grow in wisdom and in grace, in conscience and in style, entering gradually into 'the good life.'" "The greatest part of education is instilling in the young the desire to be good: a desire that sharpens and sh Favorite quotes: "True learning knows what is good, serves it above self, reproduces it, and recognizes that in knowledge lies this responsibility." "Education as paideia is not preparation for life, for college, or for work; it is our inherited means of living fully in the present, while we grow in wisdom and in grace, in conscience and in style, entering gradually into 'the good life.'" "The greatest part of education is instilling in the young the desire to be good: a desire that sharpens and shapes their understanding, that motivates and sustains their curiosity, and that imbues their studies with transcendent value."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    2017- Read it slowly this time. Will take many more readings to grasp it. 2014 -I confess I didn't quite finish it. I read most of it and I have no idea what it said. So dense, so philosophical. I thought Climbing Parnassus was a much better argument for classical ed - mostly because I could understand it! But I had to read it quickly because it was an ILL. 2017- Read it slowly this time. Will take many more readings to grasp it. 2014 -I confess I didn't quite finish it. I read most of it and I have no idea what it said. So dense, so philosophical. I thought Climbing Parnassus was a much better argument for classical ed - mostly because I could understand it! But I had to read it quickly because it was an ILL.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Armstrong

    One of the books I absolutely wrecked in order to bring to life. Very grateful for the 3+ years I’ve spent with this book and for the way it deepened the well and expanded my vision of what it means to be educated and an educator. I’ll be back for more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I can't say that I agree 100 % with everything being presented in this book. I am more a Charlotte Mason philosophy type of homeschoolers but I also regard classical education very highly and I do think they two approach can be merged beautifully. Norms and Nobility is a book that will make you think and reconsider what you think education should be, it's purpose and the end goal. I highly recommend for those curious about all the options available in ways to educate our children. I can't say that I agree 100 % with everything being presented in this book. I am more a Charlotte Mason philosophy type of homeschoolers but I also regard classical education very highly and I do think they two approach can be merged beautifully. Norms and Nobility is a book that will make you think and reconsider what you think education should be, it's purpose and the end goal. I highly recommend for those curious about all the options available in ways to educate our children.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    As many have noted, Hicks' book is densely written, so it will require rereading. Here are some of the lower-hanging fruits I could pick upon a first reading. Hicks opens by developing the concept of the "Ideal Type," through which the ancient world attempted to answer the question, "What is man, and what are his purposes?" (4). Modern education has traded that normative focus for the operational focus, asking "What can be done? instead of, What ought to be done?" (11). Hicks observes, "The good As many have noted, Hicks' book is densely written, so it will require rereading. Here are some of the lower-hanging fruits I could pick upon a first reading. Hicks opens by developing the concept of the "Ideal Type," through which the ancient world attempted to answer the question, "What is man, and what are his purposes?" (4). Modern education has traded that normative focus for the operational focus, asking "What can be done? instead of, What ought to be done?" (11). Hicks observes, "The good school does not just offer what the student or the parent or the state desires, but it says something about what these three ought to desire" (13). As he says later, explaining the dangers of education without values, "To teach man the devastating science of swordsmanship and not the moral implications and responsibilities that come with wielding a sword is to unloose upon the world both a murderer and a victim" (99). Language should be at the center of a normative education. As the ancients believed, "Learning to speak properly causes the student not only to think but to live properly" (26). Hicks goes on to say, "At the heart of a classical education is the word: the complete mastery of its shades of meaning, of its action-implicit imperatives, of its emotions and values" (34). But in addition to the logos, which Hicks defines as man's rational attempt to understand the world, we need the mythos, "man's imaginative and, ultimately, spiritual effort to make this world intelligible" (29). Christianity alone is able to bring these two values together: "For the educated believer, the Christian story reconciled the warring camps of pagan philosophy and mythology. Christ embodied the rational principle (the logos) in story form (the mythos) (92). Based on these principles, in the second half of his book Hicks outlines a curriculum and plan for implementing it. (The plan is rather complicated, with a different schedule each day of the week--on Mondays you have 1st period first, Tuesday 8th period is first, Wednesday 6th period is first, etc.) Still, the overall ideas are valuable, especially that of a "teachers' seminar" (developed in Chapter 12) where teachers can discuss the readings and pedagogical approaches that will support the school's normative aims. I think having such a seminar would be helpful, because after reading this book, I am convicted that I have been too oriented to having students learn the content of the Great Books--able to summarize plot events of the literature we read, able to write coherent papers about them--rather than to challenging them with questions like, "How, in light of this, should I change my life?" For example, we can summarize and discuss the complexities of fate vs. freedom in Oedipus Rex, but how do we arrive at a normative principle from it? What ought I to do in response to reading it?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    After reading this book, feel a heavy responsibility to teach my children to be virtuous and wise. The responsibility becomes more onerous as I realize I am not so virtuous and wise myself. However, the book fires me with the passion to try and to do my best with God's help. There is so much goodness in its pages that sometimes the words caused my heart to race. I've read this book before, and I plan to read it again and again. First reading: October 27, 2010 After reading this book, feel a heavy responsibility to teach my children to be virtuous and wise. The responsibility becomes more onerous as I realize I am not so virtuous and wise myself. However, the book fires me with the passion to try and to do my best with God's help. There is so much goodness in its pages that sometimes the words caused my heart to race. I've read this book before, and I plan to read it again and again. First reading: October 27, 2010

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert T

    The best book on classical education.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    This is a more academic look and defense of classical education, and it was quite good. It's one of the more rigorous defenses I've read about classical education--and it gave me a lot of food for thought. Hicks' point that, classically, it's the job of the student to understand the mind of the teacher and not vice versa was one of the biggest takeaways for me. I'm not sure that I agree with that statement fully (there's a value in being willing to humble yourself and stoop as a teacher to not p This is a more academic look and defense of classical education, and it was quite good. It's one of the more rigorous defenses I've read about classical education--and it gave me a lot of food for thought. Hicks' point that, classically, it's the job of the student to understand the mind of the teacher and not vice versa was one of the biggest takeaways for me. I'm not sure that I agree with that statement fully (there's a value in being willing to humble yourself and stoop as a teacher to not push a student beyond their limits). However, it's a necessary corrective to the extremes of modern education that want to make things as easy as it can for the student (and thus stunting their growth in the process). I read this slowly over the course of a month and there were a lot of highlights from the book. Probably my favorite recent work on classical education after Littlejohn's Wisdom and Eloquence, though it is admittedly one of the more high-brow works on classical education, and thus a bit less accessible. Recommended to parents or teachers looking for a more academic investigation of classical ed. Rating: 4-4.5 Stars (Excellent).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stef

    I'm about halfway through the book and i already know this is one I'll have to buy for our shelves, especially since at least some of the kids plan to homeschool their own kids one day. I'm about halfway through the book and i already know this is one I'll have to buy for our shelves, especially since at least some of the kids plan to homeschool their own kids one day.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Houston

    life-changing

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Nelms

    David Hicks, an Oxford Grad and rector at an influential classical boarding school in Georgia, completed this book some thirty years ago, and it is a modern day classic within the field of classical educational theory. In it, he brings drastic criticism to the modern day educational system, and seeks to restore it to what it used to be before modern times - an education that understood the value of the ancients, the need for the dialectical, a vision for what kind of student they should be rathe David Hicks, an Oxford Grad and rector at an influential classical boarding school in Georgia, completed this book some thirty years ago, and it is a modern day classic within the field of classical educational theory. In it, he brings drastic criticism to the modern day educational system, and seeks to restore it to what it used to be before modern times - an education that understood the value of the ancients, the need for the dialectical, a vision for what kind of student they should be rather than what skills they can acquire. We need the restoration of an educational system that does not treat students like machines to hone skills that will enable them to get a job one day, but rather young people with an inquisitive and curious mind that is more concerned about what kind of person they are becoming, and how to flourish within their human life on the backs of all the men and women in history that have come before us. And he rightly places Christianity and the Logos, Christ, as the only tangible manner in which the ideal can be pursued with a clear end goal for our learning. This book is a must read for educators, teachers, homeschoolers, and anyone interested in the restoration of educational theory to its classical western roots - and why it matters. I'll place a string of quotations below. Classical Education is in the midst of a resurgence in our country, and by God's providence, as I've seemed to be in the middle of a shift between full-time ministry to full-time in classical education, I do believe that this book has something in it not just for the schools, but also for the church and their approach to discipleship. What is the end goal of discipleship? At its core, all education is is glorified discipleship. And it should never end. Anyway. Quotes below - enjoy, and I highly recommend this book. It needs to be read slowly, and digested, for it is a very dense and challenging book to read. But it is worth every effort. "Education at every level reflects our primary assumptions about the nature of man, and for this reason, no education is innocent of an attitude toward man and his purposes." pg. 3 'This bias against any potential technology was accentuated by the philosophical temperament of the times, wherein the mechanical and applied arts were looked upon with suspicion and scorn as labors for hands, not for minds, out f motives for monetary gain, not for knowledge. There simply was no concept of material progress or of prosperity triggered by technology, and material well-being played a minor role in ancient philosophy. Besides, an ascetic strain ran through most philosophers, or like Aristotle, they valued material prosperity only as a means to the life of virtue. Too much prosperity threatens virtue with excess, however and is a great a danger as too little." - pg. 54 "...ironically, at a time when man's power over the appearances is greatest, the possibility of his loosing control over himself and his world seems highest." pg. 61 "There is still a need - although no longer physical - to save the appearances: to make man's knowledge of the appearances answer to his normative concerns. Even in science, what is draws meaning an value from what out to be." pg. 65 "Without dialectic, man can know himself only as a part and the universe only as a set of parts, but with dialectic, he sees himself as a part of the whole and all parts in relation to the whole." pg. 68 "Democracy is a noble form insofar as its aim is to provide the freedom necessary to all people to develop their full human potentials, but it becomes a vile form when, bereft of culture, it abandons this purpose and begins to value freedom for its own sake. When this happens, democracy - which only survives as a means towards higher ends - dies, and the many subtle forms of tyranny begin to infest its rotting corpse." pg. 85 "Can we humanize the young by giving them a humanistic education? Can a child memorize endless passages of Shakespeare or Goethe and still turn out to be a beast? The answer to both questions us yes, because the intention of the learner, not the content of his lessons, is alone critical to the moral efficacy of education." pg.98 "By establishing the identity of the Eros and by insisting on the faith-connection between knowledge and responsibility, Christian paideia fulfilled the promise of classical education by avoiding the egocentric and ideological pitfalls of pagan humanism. For the Christian, God in Christ firmly occupied the position of supreme value: this fact became the cornerstone of responsible learning and saved the conscience of being at odds with the self." pg. 99 "Faith succeeded through the power of Christ where the Ideal Type of pagan humanism failed to raise man from his fallen state and to avert the tragic consequences of knowledge without responsibility." pg. 102 I'm out of time to put more... can't recommend this book more!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Gearhart

    This was a difficult read, but completely worth pushing through. Once I became accustomed to and understood his vocabulary, the book became easier. I'll be coming back to this book many times in the future, I'm sure. Some ideas I have been pondering after my first read through: 1. Modern education is about what is possible/practical (utility). Classical education is about what is right (virtue). The pursuit of virtue is the highest goal in a classical education, and the way to do that is to hold This was a difficult read, but completely worth pushing through. Once I became accustomed to and understood his vocabulary, the book became easier. I'll be coming back to this book many times in the future, I'm sure. Some ideas I have been pondering after my first read through: 1. Modern education is about what is possible/practical (utility). Classical education is about what is right (virtue). The pursuit of virtue is the highest goal in a classical education, and the way to do that is to hold up an ideal before the student of what he ought to be. Much of the best thought regarding these things can be found in old books where authors relentlessly raise – and ANSWER – questions such as “What is the meaning and purpose of man’s existence? What are man’s absolute rights and duties? What form of government and what way of life is best? What is good and what is evil?” 2. Modern education teaches analytically, breaking things into their minutest pieces. It misses the big picture and much of the synthesis of ideas that don't fit neatly into a single discipline. The success of the scientific method has tricked the modern world into believing that ALL questions can eventually be answered through that avenue. What has happened instead is that our educational institutions stop asking the questions that cannot be answered by analysis. Our youth miss out on an education that feeds their souls and instead get an education that merely prepares them for the job market. 3. The way for a student to learn dialectically is to begin with myth/dogma (beliefs about ultimate Truth that cannot be tested scientifically), embracing the view fully to start, and then challenging the contradictions until he comes out on the other side either having rejected the original dogma or having come to a fuller understanding of its Truth. Some favorite quotes: “Man’s knowledge is without value to him unless he reaches it dialectically – unless it animates his body, indwells his mind, and possesses his soul.” “Once he receives a dogma, the student of dialectic begins in his life and learning to verify it. At the same time, challenges and contradictions to the dogma occur, altering the original dogma, reformulating it. Conscience compels the student to act on these reformulations, to take responsibility for what he knows, and to be constantly renewing his dialectical quarrel with life and letters. Rather than prepare the student for the carefree outer life he wants, dialectical learning awakens him to the ‘quarrelsome’ inner life he must have if he is to preserve and enlarge his frail humanity.” “Today we count quarks and pulverize DNA molecules instead of numbering demons on the heads of pins, but what has really changed? We still flounder in a shallow ocean of bits and pieces, of endless taxonomies. Can there be an end to dredging up the particles of the material universe? What is it that we are actually looking for? Do we seek a palpable divinity dancing under our microscopes? What does it all mean to man and to how he composes his life? This last is the fundamental question of our times, yet it is a question that modern reductionist education refuses to address, since it lacks not only an answer, but even the most rudimentary methods for seeking an answer.” “Only the careless and unskilled teacher answers questions before they are asked. The teacher’s chief task is to provoke the question, not to answer it; to cultivate in his students an active curiosity, not to inundate them in factual information. The teacher’s answers will not stimulate the formation of conscience and style in his student, nor will they impart paideia, if they are not in response to the student’s own questions.” “The classical science teacher constantly asks himself; ‘How does this or that scientific truth touch my students’ lives and increase their understanding of themselves and their purposes?’” “The decisive lesson of any first-hand study of history is that for almost every modern thought or innovation, there exists an historical precedent illuminating and sometimes outshining it.”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen (Living Unabridged)

    This is not a book to rush through. This is a thoughtful, reasoned look at what education is in the US (published in 1981) and what it could be. It's sobering to realize that 30+ years have passed. The educational system has only worsened, and many dire predictions that Mr. Hicks made have come to pass. Highly recommended. This is not a book to rush through. This is a thoughtful, reasoned look at what education is in the US (published in 1981) and what it could be. It's sobering to realize that 30+ years have passed. The educational system has only worsened, and many dire predictions that Mr. Hicks made have come to pass. Highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Carter

    So good, I would give this six stars if available. Hicks, in a small book (<160 pages) covers an immense amount of ground. Beginning with the observation that there is something very wrong with modern American education (and this book was first published over 20 years ago), Hicks builds the case for a return to classical education. He argues throughout that modern education has abandoned normative education (ie teaching the young both how to think and what to do) for the purely analytical. That t So good, I would give this six stars if available. Hicks, in a small book (<160 pages) covers an immense amount of ground. Beginning with the observation that there is something very wrong with modern American education (and this book was first published over 20 years ago), Hicks builds the case for a return to classical education. He argues throughout that modern education has abandoned normative education (ie teaching the young both how to think and what to do) for the purely analytical. That the scientific method, proper in its own domain, is wholly incapable of the leap from what is to what ought to be. He offers critiques of the democratic mindset applied to education--and devastating critiques of the modern teaching academy--but doesn't stop with the negative. Instead, he rebuilds a positive model of classical education, one built on the humane letters of the ancient texts. Further, he goes so far as to offer a full curriculum for the 7th-12th grades. So much insight. So much wisdom. So many reasons to read this book. Six stars.

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