C.S. Lewis on making students into “men without chests”

by Brett Vaden

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis introduces his subject by discussing the contents of a textbook on his shelf, which he calls “The Green Book.” To protect the authors’ real names, he refers to them as Gaius and Titius. Rather than accomplish their stated purpose, to teach upper school boys and girls the art of English composition, Gaius and Titius’s efforts mainly serve to implant a dangerous idea into their young readers’ minds.

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The Backward Thinking of Abraham Lincoln

by Brett Vaden

Abraham Lincoln was a backward thinker. His mind wasn’t just in the present. Nor was it just in the future. He considered the past, letting it influence his actions, and even staking his life on principles set down by people whose bones had bleached long before he was born.

I want to share a virtue we can learn from Lincoln’s backward thinking: the audacity of principle.

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Does classical education suck the fun out of learning?

As people new to classical education consider buying in, they sometimes fear that if they put their children in a classical school, somehow those little souls will be weighed down under such a load of old books, old subjects, and old methods, that they too will become unnaturally old, withered, crusty souls, full of ancient history and Latin conjugations, but left without a drop of spirit, spunk, or spontaneity. (more…)

How to Teach Writing, Part 3

by Brett Vaden

Writing is an art. It takes training and years of practice to master. My 7-year-old daughter has been learning piano for several months now under a clear, structured order of training. Her teacher came highly recommended, because, as I was informed, she knows how to take kids from knowing nothing to knowing a lot. The secret for taking a beginner from being a novice to a master is a patient, knowledgeable teacher with a reliable curriculum. A good teacher knows and uses a series of exercises that progress from an introductory, low level of difficulty to more and more advanced challenges, resulting in students’ competence. Is there such a curriculum for writing? (more…)