I’ve been teaching at classical Christian schools for eight years now and am pursuing my own liberal education through Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors Program (aka: classical education for grown-ups). After writing two term papers on the subject and taking a class in which we read a survey of works that provided a helpful understanding of the various strands of thought in the world of the classical Christian education, I thought I would provide a list of books that have been helpful to me as I continue on my journey in humane learning.
You’ll notice that more resources are listed in the Modern/Contemporary section, which might seem to contradict the fact that this post is dedicated to something very old. There are at least four reasons for this.
One is that I am including resources from the bibliographies of my papers, and both papers addressed modern interpretations and implementations of classical education.
The second might simply be that eight years of teaching and three years of formal study yields what you might expect of a beginner’s library and no more. (In fact, some of the books mentioned I’ve had to borrow from a library or generous septuagenarian who has a penchant for carting out-of-print books in his faded blue rattletrap.)
The other is that I have also recommended a good starting text for ancient and medieval sources, The Great Tradition, edited by Richard M. Gamble. Readers may start here and then find whole works based on the selections they read.
A final reason might be attributed to the nature of modern publishing. Nearly everyone has an opinion, and many more people publish. (You are reading a blog post right now.)
Some works below are recommended because I truly believe they provide a robust understanding of humane learning while others I find helpful for understanding the “spectrum” of the neo-classical education movement. If someone is looking for a good beginner’s foundation and overwhelmed by the list of sources provided sans comments, then I recommend the anthology listed above and James V. Schall’s The Life of the Mind. And as always, the book of Ecclesiastes is a perfect place to start when contemplating wisdom.
Philosophical Resources (Ancient)
Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, and Rhetoric by Aristotle
The Republic by Plato
Philosophical Resources (Medieval)
On Christian Teaching (On Christian Doctrine) by Augustine
St. Augustine: On Education edited and translated by George Howie
The Metalogicon by John of Salisbury
Philosophical Resources (Modern/Contemporary)
The Seven Liberal Arts: A Study in Mediaeval Culture by Paul Abelson
The Great Conversation, Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind and The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto by Mortimer Adler
Beauty in the World by Stratford Caldecott
Classical Education and the Home-School by Wesley Callihan, Douglas Jones, and Douglas Wilson
The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain
Experience and Education and Moral Principles in Education by John Dewey
The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being by Richard M. Gamble (Ed.)
Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education by David V. Hicks
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft
The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric: Understanding the Nature and Function of Language by Sister Miriam Joseph
The Abolition of Man and The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis
Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Robert Little-John and Charles T. Evans
Later Medieval Philosophy (1150-1350): An Introduction by John Marebon
Readings in the History of Education: Mediaeval Universities by Arthur O. Norton
An Introduction to Classical Education by Christopher Perrin
Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education by James S. Taylor
The Life of the Mind by James V. Schall
Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child by Cheryl Swope
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctly Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Way of Classical Education by Robert M. Woods
The Rector of Justin by Louis Auchincloss
Recently Bought But Not Yet Read
Another Sort of Learningby James V. Schall
Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern
Raphael’s The School of Athens image taken from Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]