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Education Reporter
Book of the Month
Book of the Month

Classical Education, Towards the Revival of American Schooling, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., and Andrew Kern, 1997, 99 pps., $10.00, paper.

Authors Veith and Kern, both of whom have impressive credentials, point out in the Introduction to Classical Education that our deeply troubled American education system cannot improve until we have a new theory of education. "Fortunately," they write, "one already exists."

Their book is an account of the classical education movement in America, and features the elementary and secondary schools, teachers, homeschoolers, Internet classicists, and "rogue scholars," who are pioneering this new and growing education phenomenon.

Classical Education is divided into three parts. Part I discusses how contemporary education theories such as modernism have failed throughout the 20th century. These theories have spawned the modern "reforms," among them Whole Language, Goals 2000, School-to-Work, critical thinking, and technology in the classroom. According to the authors, these reforms have encouraged students to question moral authority and abandon traditional values, while failing to teach substance.

Classical Education is aptly named because its roots date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, "for whom a liberal education was necessary for a man to be free." Classical Education theory holds that "to be educated in any discipline, students must 1) know its basic facts (grammar); 2) be able to reason clearly about it (logic); and 3) apply it personally in an effective way (rhetoric)." These three elements are called the trivium, and are explained in Part II. This section also defines the four models of the new classical schools: 1) Christian Classicism; 2) Democratic Classicism; 3) Moral Classicism; and 4) Liberating Classicism.

Part III covers higher education, and shows how far most colleges and universities have strayed from the original concept of a liberal arts education. The authors however, see signs of hope, and contend that "the time is right for yet another rebirth of classical education."

An appendix follows with a reference list of resources and organizations. Contact Capital Research Center, 1513 16th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036-1401, (202) 483-6900.

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