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I have recently been reading a book on classical education, "The Well-Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, which led me today to engage in an online discussion of the value of classical education. The snippet that most amused me was when, in response to a question I asked about whether there were any books or articles showing that classical education was superior to other methods, someone remarked that proponents of classical education would likely argue that the historical results speak for themselves -- until recently, the greatest thinkers of Western Civilization were all products of classical education.

My response:

It is amazing to me that anyone who purports to believe in the value of logic would advance such an obviously ridiculous argument.

There is no way to know what the greatest minds in the western world would have achieved if they had been educated some other way. We do not know if they would have achieved more, or less, or something different -- or if different people, whose talents may not have been best nurtured by the classical method, might now be seen as the greatest minds of the past.

Similarly, there is no way to know how the lack of a classical education might be affecting the great minds of today. There is no particular reason to believe that today's greatest thinkers shine any less brightly than those of the past.

I do find myself rather tempted to begin a course of study in basic Latin...


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August 2014

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