In a new post at Intercollegiate Review, writer Samuel Klee explores the changing nature of education and standards.
Why Bother with Classical Education?
My post on the increasing simplicity of high school texts sparked some debates this week on the tangled interwebs. Several people readily admitted that education standards have decreased over time, but not all viewed it negatively. So what if students no longer read Plato or Homer? Not everyone is cut out to be Socrates—now hurry up or be left behind, the postmodern train is leaving!
These conversations inevitably led to the same question: what is the actual purpose of education? Going beyond whether Twilight qualifies as good literature (which forever remains a decided “no” in my universe), this fundamental issue of why educate is the ground on which curriculum wars are waged. Are we simply trained to fill cogs in the societal machine, or should we be formed in virtue to enhance our personal liberties?
From Aristotle to Locke, education has served a crucial role in fostering virtue and perpetuating enlightened freedom. Whatever common assumptions may be, protecting our natural rights takes more effort than voting every four years and grilling hotdogs on July 4th; liberty must be instilled to survive, and the duration of any free society is dependent upon each generation’s renewed commitment to its preservation. Applying this conclusion to education, students must learn to think critically, to understand how their freedom was established and the means best suited to preserving it.