5 Good Books on the "Why?" of Classical Education

Climbing Parnassus by Simmons This was one of the first books I read about classical education, and I will confess that at first I didn’t quite “get” it. It seemed elitist, and a little oddball and frankly boring. Then, after doing some other reading, I read it again, and then I read it a third time, and only then did I “see.” Like so much of “classic literature,” you really need to have some background knowledge in order to get the full meat of the argument. I’ve chosen some of my favorite, more accessible quotes that I think make some good points about classical education. “…the kind of citizens we wish to create and the kind of polity we wish to engender. For education is never neutral. Embedded within any course of study lie assumptions about what people ought to know, and about human nature itself: Are we Man or Machine? Education is, in the end, an auxiliary of philosophy

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5 Good Books on Knowing Things

Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham Knowing things brings pleasure. You cannot have the distinct enjoyment of listening to a book that riffs on the Odyssey and appreciating the way the author plays on the similarities and differences if you don’t know the Odyssey. Jazz without knowledge is merely random noise. Forcing students to wallow in their ignorance definitely brings confusion at best and hatred at worst because it will inevitably lead to failure. There is no doubt that having students memorize lists of dry facts is not enriching. It is also true (though less often appreciated) that trying to teach students skills such as analysis or synthesis in the absence of factual knowledge is impossible. Willingham Making Kids Cleverer by Didau I have deep reservations about Didau’s book, especially as it regards gifted children (who come from all social classes, albeit less identified in lower-SES groups). However, his central thesis is undeniable, especially if you have reviewed

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Five Good Books on Teaching Math

The Liberal Arts Tradition by Jain and Clark The first book on this list might not obviously be about teaching math, but in fact the authors teach advanced math at a small, private, Christian classical school in Florida. They have some of the best writing I’ve ever seen about the importance of mathematics in classical education. Today the desire among math educators to cultivate “number sense” reflects this ancient desire to have deep reasoning in arithmetic. –Clark and Jain Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger III Another book that isn’t obviously about mathematics, yet contains wonderful information about to structure your child’s math education. Make It Stick is a fantastic book just to learn how to learn better, but the idea of interleaved and varied practice is especially foreign to most US math curricula. In math education, massing is embedded in the textbook: each chapter is dedicated to a particular kind of problem, which you

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