Depending upon which version or versions of it to which you have exposed, as well as your own thoughts about the purpose of education, you might think it appealing, appalling, or something in between. If you want to understand why classical education has gone through periodic resurgences through the centuries in contrast to most other approaches, you ought to read Climbing Parnassus. Tracy Simmons has written an apologia for classical education that makes sound arguments in its favor. Simmons makes a clear distinction between the purpose of education seen through a classical lens—that of forming the character and virtues of a person—and the primarily utilitarian view held by most people.
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Shelves: education , history , Call me an elitist if you want None of these things may involve any personal cultivation in what is good or true.
Studying the humanities--for real--and becoming truly classically educated Call me an elitist if you want Studying the humanities--for real--and becoming truly classically educated should be the ticket Now please excuse me while I go practice Latin with my 4th grader.
My favorite quotes from the book: "At the heart of liberal education stands the conviction that the well-touted freedom of mind comes only by submission to standards external to oneself, that the discipline precedes freedom and that this kind of freedom can only be earned as a reward, not conferred as a right. But if one were born with the fortune to be so gifted--and this may be what gifted means--the learner could commence the climb. A classical education was to enhance the soul. The distinction is simple enough.
But it creates cramps for a democratic culture. We need less plastic and synthetics and more mahogany and teak. He was speaking out for the formed, well-stored mind. Anything less is just getting and spending.
It teaches a man to feel vaguely cultured while he remains in fact a dunce. It qualifies him to review books he does not understand, and to be intellectual without intellect. Here, before the young can know the dangers of soft teaching or the seductions of ignorance, non-knowledge gets planted and watered. Generations of educated men and women for example, have read and enjoyed Shakespeare without getting him in school.
The classroom saw them reading Homer and Horace, counting hexameter feet and agonizing over the force of a Greek particle. They were strengthening their intellectual and aesthetic muscles while learning the glorious minutiae of literary pieces deemed to be those works most worth knowing for a thinking, sentient citizen of the West. They can be softened--and they can be faked. No one need prove he knows anything once the spector of Appreciation enters the groves of academe
Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin
Parnassus was considered by the ancients to be the dwelling place of the Greek god Apollo and the nine muses. They were the inspiration for almost all knowledge and expression: science, philosophy, art, music, etc. The hard, precipitous path of classical education ideally led not to knowledge alone, but to the cultivation of mind and spirit. Thus begins the analogy he uses to write one of the most unapologetic apologias for classical education. Contrary to other works on education, Climbing Parnassus is an enjoyable read.