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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. 5 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. 5 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. 4 out of 5

    A Young Philosopher

    9.5/10. What is wrong with today's educational system? Are the wrong things being taught? Are our students just stupid? Why cannot education have any moral influence on the life direction of our students, other than being a means to reach money? Hicks has written an excellent answer to these questions. I fault him for nothing other than his modern faith in the miraculous powers of democracy to transform the mass man. The mass man — the mediocre, unreachable, indolent man — cannot be taught the hi 9.5/10. What is wrong with today's educational system? Are the wrong things being taught? Are our students just stupid? Why cannot education have any moral influence on the life direction of our students, other than being a means to reach money? Hicks has written an excellent answer to these questions. I fault him for nothing other than his modern faith in the miraculous powers of democracy to transform the mass man. The mass man — the mediocre, unreachable, indolent man — cannot be taught the higher values of life. His natural intelligence, willpower, and self-discipline do not allow that. He must be influenced by social pressure, the necessity of making a living, and rhetoric. Only through these will he become a functioning member of society. But there is a naturally higher subset of mankind that can be educated. Alas, today they are not! Their problem begins with education, for their education is an education of means, not of ends. They are taught the techniques and scientific discoveries of manifold domains — physics, chemistry, biology, literary studies — and learn to become masters at dissection. They dissect philosophers' thoughts, poetic meters, and historical events. But what don't they do? Actually connect their learning to what it means to be a noble human. Students learn of every particular in sight but never think about how one ought to live as a human being. Normative questions are shoved away due to them being labeled as "subjective". All "subjective" things become objects of scorn, which obliterates the meaning of all art, philosophy, literature, and classics. All disciplines become subject to mass analysis — the splitting of an infinite amount of hairs — until the student arrives at absolutely no meaning. Digging deep into the wells of the various disciplines, the student learns structure, rhyme, literary devices, random historical events, the workings of the cell, how the weather functions, but can never ask the question: "so what for me as man?" The teacher, renouncing moral standards of the past and replacing them with an implicit morality of defeating traditional European "oppression", destroys their students' love for learning. Shakespeare is not taught to answer the difficult questions of life — authority/freedom, love/obligation, honor/exception, passion/reason, family/ambition — but instead to dissect his sentence structure. Or worse: to reveal his patriarchal, racist intentions. Thus the individual has no moral educational drive. He has no literary heroes to look up to — no Achilleses, no Don Quixotes, no Odysseuses — and thus is submerged into "popular culture" with no saving buoy. He drowns in the mediocrity of the masses and becomes an economic puppet for the "entertainment industry". The student goes into the world thinking that it has magically progressed due to the wonders of science. Never reading the thoughts of the greats who came before him, he thinks them antiquated, quaint, and too reactionary to consider. His teachers never gave him a chance. Sympathizing with the mass man in the name of "equality", they thought that their students couldn't handle classic literature. Too hard. Too many big words. Better read those "diverse" LGBTPEDO childrens' books instead. The student never thinks in the modern educational environment. He never makes an argument his own and passionately defends it in debate. Debate is too masculine, too "contentious" for this weak, effeminate world of ours. It's "toxic", as they say. But it is essential for the molding of self and idea, thus allowing the student to take a truly new viewpoint of the world. And that is the lesson of classical education: one must mold one's self to viewpoints to truly understand them. Only once one has passionately argued for them does one have the right to discard them. Most moderns just walk by them and scoff. True education is not just thought, but living what one has learned. It is feeling the pressure to live up to the high principles that the ancients teach us. The true teacher should be a sage — that is, one who both teaches and lives what he teaches. The living abstractions that are today's educators cannot do that, for they don't even teach principles. That's "subjective", as they say. They renounce responsibility and upturn the natural order of teacher molding student, adult molding child. They discard the past's wisdom in favor of laissez faire, which inevitably turns into those oh-so-virtuous behaviors of getting drunk, smoking weed, and endlessly scrolling through Instagram. What a generation our educators have left us. Forsaking any type of duty to a classical ideal, they destroy the individual consciences of our youth while implanting a new conscience of progressivism. The students are never explicitly told that they are having this new conscience implanted inside of them, but that is precisely the result of our modern schools. The intelligent students — the ones who have an inkling of the feeling that they have a duty to rise up — get their natural duty replaced by one that tells them to fight for the Blacks, gays, and womxn. They turn into upper-class fools. They run away from "diversity" while preaching about its great value. They never read enough literature to question democracy, but instead become preachers of its divinity. They have no self-direction except for that gained through media osmosis. They never question whether "rising" in their careers and making more money is the greatest value in life. They never self-check themselves to some higher standard — their only moral compass is pleasure and pain. They only lose weight to feel better in this world and attract more sexual husks. Their free time consists in leisurely dissipation — no effort is expended to become more virtuous. Video games, social media, and parties will do. All of life is spent in the great haze of sensual pleasure. Coming into their mid-30s, with a decaying body and soon-to-be abhorrent looks, they question themselves. "What am I doing here? What is the purpose of life?". Confusion strikes their souls. The mid-life crisis happens. With no metaphysical values, no God, no conception of virtue, no knowledge of the wisdom of the ancients, they are left in a perenially infantile state. Unaware of their own ignorance, they think they can order their lives. If not, they can pay for an ordered life — the counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, and doctor are always available for a price. Oh, what a horrid condition! Modern man is lost in a great delusion. Knowing nothing of his ancestors, he walks blindly into the future. He stumbles and falls over, again and again, yet thinks he can order himself. He cannot! If only someone could tell him of the greatness of Athens, the strength of Rome, the steadfastness of Christendom, the warrior spirit of the Vikings . . . but that knowledge has been lost. O Classical Tradition, buried in the muck of progressivist delusion, may thou be revived one day! May thy spirit come to modern man! May thy wisdom fill his mind, heart, and spirit! Without such a miracle, Man will only continue his great fall.

  4. 5 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

    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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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..

  8. 4 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.

  9. 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...

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 5 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!!!

  15. 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. ;)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brandon LeBlanc

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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."

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 5 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Davis Smith

    This book is exceptionally hard to secure for those who are on a budget. In a prime example of obnoxious publisher greed, a new copy of this slim 170-page tome costs $66, even though, to my knowledge, it is technically still in print (the actual content lasts closer to 150 pages, and fewer if you're not interested in the logistics of a classical school). American University Press clearly knows that this is a coveted book by those in classical education circles, but there's nothing one can do abo This book is exceptionally hard to secure for those who are on a budget. In a prime example of obnoxious publisher greed, a new copy of this slim 170-page tome costs $66, even though, to my knowledge, it is technically still in print (the actual content lasts closer to 150 pages, and fewer if you're not interested in the logistics of a classical school). American University Press clearly knows that this is a coveted book by those in classical education circles, but there's nothing one can do about it—one must either suck it up or fish for a rare used copy (which will inevitably be heavily marked); and purchasing copies as a gift for others, which this would otherwise be an ideal book for, is out of the question. Thankfully, I was finally able to get this from the library, though not without waiting several months for it to escape the ILL cycle. Anyway, the big question is: is it worth it? Fortunately (and maybe unfortunately depending on the status of your checking account), the answer for me is clearly yes. It is yet another diagnostic-with-solution book written during the 1980s that assesses the dire direction of the American project with visionary accuracy (The Closing of the American Mind, After Virtue, and Amusing Ourselves to Death also belong to that category); and if it was available at a more reasonable price, I have no doubt it would approach the same level of popularity. There is an incredible amount of insight on each page, even if Hicks repeats a lot of points to an occasionally wearisome degree. Naturally, I don't agree with everything that Hicks says (especially his big idea about the Ideal Type, which takes classical education in an Enlightenment direction that I don't feel comfortable with), but I have a tough time envisioning how anyone could respond to any of his main talking points. This is THE definitive critique of modern education, and it is worth reading if only for that. But I mainly treasure it for its unparalleled description of the education that brings humanity closest to what it is meant to be. This is a book to savor when you despair of the possibility of our culture's salvation—certainly, the apparent utter incompatibility of everything that I hold dear and valuable with American cultural stipulations has been on my mind lately, and this was a timely read due to that. Hicks is unashamedly optimistic that classical education can offer deliverance, but he never loses sight of the fact that our telos is of an altogether different aim than mere world citizenship. However, I think his greatest achievement is elucidating the harmony between classical and Christian conceptions of education, and his final vision is something like a mix between the Republic and the City of God. Though the topic of classical education will always provide fertile material for new books, everyone has to go through Hicks to get there; and to face up to his sui generis formulation.

  23. 5 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?

  24. 5 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

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert T

    The best book on classical education.

  26. 4 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).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is not a long book, but it is very rich and full, and there is no way to get everything out of it in one read. There is so much excellent insight and food for thought here, that I already know I will benefit from reading it many many times.

  28. 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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Houston

    life-changing

  30. 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!

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