by Brett Vaden
Recently, someone told me about the “4 Christmas Gift Challenge.” The idea is to buy only four presents per person in your family: something to they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Regardless of whether you limit your gift-giving to four presents, the categories themselves provide a handy method for deciding what to get that classical educator in your life–or to help others decide what to buy for you.
In this post, I will give seven gift ideas for “something to read” for a classical educator.
Classical educators usually have a long and formidable reading list. To get the most out of their reading, it is vitally important to have a tried and true method. How to Read a Book contains clear and useful instructions on how to systematically go about reading for deep, comprehensive understanding. As the author says, “Our subject . . . is the art of reading good books when understanding is the aim you have in view.”
From Achilles to Christ by Louis Markos
How should a Christian educator approach the great literary and dramatic works of the Greeks and Romans? In his book, Louis Markos, a distinguished professor of English and a respected C. S. Lewis scholar, tackles this question with verve, wit, and wisdom.
For classical educators who want to brush up on their fine arts knowledge (or get their first introduction), these “5 X 7” cards display beautiful pieces of art from the most influential artistic movements in history, including the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism.
Having a working knowledge of geography is vastly underestimated in our culture, but for anyone wanting to get a solid handle on history and current world events, it is an essential skill. The Geography III text and study guide not only helps readers identify the countries, major landforms, and topography of the world, but trains them to freehand-draw each continent using the Robinson Map Project.
Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons
The term “classical education” means different things to different people. For a clear, informed understanding of this idea, classical educators should look first to this book by Tracy Lee Simmons.
The Story of Christianity by David Bentley Hart
Classical education aims to pass on to students the wisdom and virtue of the Christian West. To understand this culture of sapientia et virtus, classical educators need to know its history. In this book, David Bentley Hart, a widely revered Christian scholar, gives a scholarly but readable portrait of the Christian Church from its origins in Judaism to the “house churches” in contemporary China.
The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them by E. D. Hirsch
Classical Christian educators need to understand what makes modern progressive education different from traditional education. They need to know where the chaos we see in our schools today came from, and they need to know how to sweep it out. To address the disease of progressivism, E. D. Hirsch, a first-rate scholar and the author of Cultural Literacy, provides the diagnosis and cure in The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them.
Bonus: Registration to the CLSA Teacher Training Conference, July 6th-8th, 2016
As a bonus gift idea, consider giving the classical educator in your life “something to experience.” Hosted by The Classical Latin School Association, Memoria Press, and Highlands Latin School, the 2016 Teacher Training Conference is a great opportunity for professional development. Plenary sessions will be led by Martin Cothran, Louis Markos, and Andrew Pudewa. The two days will also be jam-packed with workshops detailing curriculum, pedagogy, and classroom discipline. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Thursday and Friday.
Brett Vaden is assistant director of the Schools Division of Memoria Press.