“Fare Forward”: The Influence of Christian Humanism on the Classical Christian Education Movement (Part 3 of 4)

III. Old and New Humanisms

A. The Rise of Renaissance Humanism

In order to understand the effects of humanism on the classical Christian curriculum being implemented in schools in 2023, one must examine the methods, texts, and program of study commended by Renaissance Humanist thinkers. Craig Kallendorf highlights the unique role that Renaissance humanism had in an increasingly educated and text-saturated society. How does one study and perhaps more importantly, what texts does he study? Where is wisdom to be found? Kallendorf’s translations of four humanist thinkers and teachers—Pier Paolo Vergerio, Leonardo Bruni, Aeneas Piccolomini, and Battista Guarino—highlight the ideal program of study befitting “free men.”[1] He believes that the humanists had grown disenchanted with the utilitarian approach to education, which emphasized practical, preprofessional and scientific studies.[2] Medieval scholars sought a uniform curriculum, a canon of textbooks deemed auctores to be systematically taught by auctoristas, literally authorists. While this form of education may seem efficient in educating the ruling classes, Paul F. Grendler highlights several issues:

Although predominantly medieval and Christian, the curriculum authors included a minority of Roman classical authors. Almost all were poetical; Donatus, the Catholicon, and Boethius (half-prose, half-poetry) stand out as exceptions. Medieval teachers and scholars probably preferred poetry for its presumed mnemonic value and because “poetry teaches truth” in the traditional conception. The auctores mixed together pagan and Christian, classical and medieval, Augustan and late classical, original works of imaginative literature and pedagogical manuals, epic poem and glossary, without distinction. Teachers seem to have valued all auctores equally; all taught language and good morality. Many of the auctores written in the Middle Ages exhibited a “manufactured” quality. They were not original works of literature borrowed for classroom use, or even works strongly based on original usage, but texts written to display the rules of grammar, etymology, or morality.[3]

The Renaissance Humanists found rhetorical teaching too narrow in scope and restrictive in content: “medieval rhetoric viewed the letter writer as a technician with the ample file of examples to copy; the humanist educator wanted wisdom and variety as well as technique.”[4] Why not cut out the textbook compiler, the middleman, and put the ancients back into the hands of the students?[5] Grendler puts it bluntly: “[the humanists] now sought ancient prose authors to teach in the classroom.”[6] Whereas the Medieval textbooks provided fodder for students to “mine” for writing techniques and morals, the humanist educational treatises emphasized a program of study that prepared students for life.[7] The emphasis could be summarized in the phrase “less is more”: Grendler provides several advertisements posted by parents and city councils that sought educators in “rhetoric and oratorical art, poetry, and Greek and Latin letters,” or sometimes just simply “grammar, rhetoric, and poetry.”[8] This context where Renaissance Humanism gains a foothold seems hauntingly contemporary. Education in the 21st century is marred by fragmentation of texts and the mindless profit of the textbook industry. Students today are intentionally cut off from the original sources, which have been deemed too dangerous, oppressive, or difficult to be worth their time.

The Renaissance Humanists proposed a program of study that encouraged students to read the best classical sources of the past, the litterae humaniores[9]in their original languages to create eloquent, virtuous men and women. Here one finds echoes of Augustine: the wisdom and eloquence of the ancients find their full flourishing in a Christian society that reads classical sources in light of Christian truth. Renaissance men and women need not look within themselves to determine right and moral action; instead, they have through literature many exemplars of virtuous action and eloquent speech. The classics serve as a reminder that man does not possess within himself the will to help himself.

Two Humanist Educational Treatises in particular, penned by Leonardo Bruni and Pier Paolo Vergerio, list the specific sources the student must digest, and the manner by which he must interact with these texts to become a truly humane individual. Instead of subscribing to a medieval school of learning demarcated by the adherence to textbooks, these treatises propose texts as teachers, immortalized in writing and therefore immune to the shifting educational tides of each new generation.

The prescriptions of early Humanist authors are strikingly direct. In “The Study of Literature,” Leonardo Bruni does not advise Lady Battista of Malatesta of Montefeltro to merely gaze inward to find inspiration or truth. Rather, he begins by emphasizing study as formation, for “through it, indeed, we learn much that a teacher could never teach to us: vocalic melody, elegance, continuity, and charm.”[10] Lady Battista must study writing, the nature of letters and of punctuation, along with recitation and memorization, syllables and verses and feet of poetry.[11] While this may seem to be simply a cultivation of skills or an education in refinement, Bruni implores his pupil that “…literary skill without knowledge is useless and sterile; and knowledge, however extensive, fades into the shadows without the glorious lamp of literature. Literary skill and factual knowledge are ‘wedded’ to each other.”[12] She must read only the best and most approved authors, such as Cicero[13] and Lactantius Firminanus; historians Livy, Sallust, Tacitus, Julius Caesar; the “General Orators,” as well as poets Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Euripides, and Seneca.[14]

Bruni also commends, with meticulous detail, a precise program of study that prioritizes divinity and moral philosophy, as well as history and poetry. And although he thought pupils could learn a bit of geometry, mathematics, and astronomy, Bruni “anchored his conception of a good education in the trivium: ancient literature provided the sacred and secular wisdom necessary for the perfection of the human being.”[15] Furthermore, he eschewed medieval Latin as vulgar and instead advocated the unparalleled “moral and stylistic value of both ancient Greek and Latin works of poetry and prose.”[16] Classics scholar Eric Adler asserts that the studia humanitatis “stood for what we would now designate as classical education. The focus was firmly on ancient Greek and Roman writers (encountered in their original languages), at the expense of other topics and eras.”[17] Renaissance humanists left a legacy that would be difficult to controvert; the return to the sources gave students direct access to the texts that could become their teachers. No longer was learning dependent on the mores or charisma of the instructor, which could wax and wane each generation.[18] Bruni outlines a humane program of study that would give his students access to the best that had been thought and said, sustaining them for a lifetime.

Pier Paolo Vergerio in “The Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth” reinforces Bruni’s ideal of texts as teachers: “parents can provide their children with no more lasting resources, no more dependable protection in life than instruction in honorable arts and liberal disciplines.”[19] He defines the liberal studies as those “which are worthy of a free [liber] man: they are those through which virtue and wisdom are either practiced or sought, and by which the body or mind is disposed towards all the best things.”[20] How does one become wise? Collect, read, and re-read the particular set of old books that he commends, for since memory cannot hold everything “books, in my view, should be acquired and preserved as a kind of second memory. For letters and books constitute a fixed record of things and are the communal repository of all things knowable.”[21] A well-stocked library for Vergerio is like Bruni’s “glorious lamp;” the exemplars provided in literature of the past far outnumber the living exemplars of the present. He name-drops and quotes liberally: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Cato, Vergil all have a seat at the table. Like Bruni, he emphasizes the value of permanence in texts: “For human memory and objects passed from hand to hand gradually decay and scarcely survive the lifetime of one person, but what has been skilfully entrusted to books endures forever.”[22] And yet, owning the right books is not enough if the student does not take up and read them with the proper ends, the knowledge and love of God,[23] in mind.

The curriculum of the New Humanists could only be as strong as the culture that accompanied it. Grendler explores the resurgence of boarding schools in the pioneering stages of Renaissance Humanism. Battista Guarino, another humanist whose educational treatise is included in Kallendorf’s volume, fondly deemed his boarding school a contubernium, “common dwelling, implying comradeship, intimacy, and intellectual exchange.”[24] Because Renaissance teachers wanted to teach good morals and good literature, the contubernium and studia humanitatis complemented one another well: “humanists believed that they could recreate in a boarding school a miniature ancient world whose youthful inhabitants would become responsible and upright leaders of society.”[25] Communal life is not easy. Yet in studying, working, and eating together, students and teachers would ideally shed the desire to perform, and instead replace that with genuine love of learning and familial-like bonds that could last a lifetime.

Renaissance Humanism was, in many ways, a grassroots movement. What started with a rediscovery of classical languages and the works of Quintilian and Cicero increased through the propagation of Humanist Educational Treatises by figures like Leonardo Bruni, Pier Paolo Vergerio and others, and flourished into the leading educational philosophy of its day. Interestingly, the grassroots methods of leading educators in the classical Christian movement in the 21st century—people like Douglas Wilson, Littlejohn and Evans, and most recently Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain—echo some of the strategies employed by the Renaissance Humanists. Like Bruni, Vergerio, and Guarino they penned educational treatises which outline the ideal programs of study, some advocated the study of Greek and Latin so that students could read texts for themselves, they founded schools that boasted modest, tutorial-style classrooms, and have since seen this form of education gain traction as an alternative to the public school system.[26] And yet, at the same time, classical charter schools have also gained students, funds, and legitimacy in the public square at an astonishing rate. If one looks at a website of a classical charter school, he may find similar reading lists that celebrate studia humanitatis: small classroom sizes, classical language instruction, and “wisdom and virtue” as ideals. What is the marked difference between these two iterations of classical education?

B. Old Heresies and New Humanism

In order to trace the divide between two forms of classical education being offered in the 21st century, one must consider the influence of New Humanism in the academy in the 20th century. The concept of the Renaissance humanist project as outlined by Kallendorf was taken up in the New Humanist movement led by Irving Babbitt at Harvard University at the turn of the century. Babbitt eschewed the “free-elective curriculum” at Harvard as a “product of a romantic conception of education,”[27] in favor of a system that did not entirely eliminate “the wisdom of the past as a model for the present.”[28] In a chapter of his first monograph, titled “What is Humanism?”, Babbitt offers a vision of the studia humanitatis as not just a unique, non-vocational, non-utilitarian program of study,[29] but a “distinct philosophy of life and civilization.”[30] For Babbitt, the studia humanitatis, an ever-widening, curated set of readings that begins with the Latin and Greek authors, offered a philosophically precise rationale for inward-directed education: Cicero, Petrarch, and Leonardo Bruni alike emphasized the improvement of the self by examining the models of the past.[31] This was not mere traditionalism, but a vision of the Good Life. Reflecting on his project in 1930, Babbitt claimed:

Our holding of tradition must be in the highest degree critical; that is, it must involve a constant process of hard and clear thinking, a constant adjustment, in other words, of the experience of the past to the changing needs of the present.[32]

Drawn to Buddism and Confucianism, Babbitt saw no reason to limit the canon to the great texts of Western Civilization. Adler believes the transformation of the canon was, in Babbitt’s mind, akin to Cicero’s transformation of Greek paideia: “[w]hereas the ancient Greeks had rooted their education in their own culture’s literary classics, the Romans focused on studying a foreign culture as much as their own.”[33] In Democracy and Leadership, Babbitt explains the rich duality to be found in a canon that reflects both East and West:

…If there is such a thing as the wisdom of the ages, a central core of normal human experience, this wisdom is, on the religious level, found in Buddha and Christ and, on the humanistic level, in Confucius and Aristotle. These teachers may be regarded both in themselves and in their influence as the four outstanding figures in the spiritual history of mankind.[34]

Babbitt seems to have forgotten Augustine’s claim that humanity is only capable of being understood in light of Christ’s incarnation, because he “condescended to adapt Himself to our weakness, and to show us a pattern of holy life in the form of our own humanity.”[35] To place Buddha and Christ on the same religious playing field is to deny this essential source of humanity. Perhaps if Babbitt had pioneered “Buddhist humanism,” his proposed program of study could achieve its desired ends. Instead, New Humanism promotes the study of humanity solely for man’s benefit. And while Babbitt stressed the duality of human nature, that man possesses both impulsive desires and the ability to restrain or affirm these desires, he conflated the source of that restraint.[36] He coined the concept of “inner check,” man’s “‘civil war in the cave’”[37] that found its solution in humanistic education, which would “present students with works of such great profundity and insight that engage [their] imaginations”[38] and cause them to limit their desires. Clearly Babbitt draws the inspiration for self-examination from Renaissance Humanists such as Bruni and Petrarch. Yet in his model, the texts unillumined by the light of Christ still claim to be the ideal guide to the student. When divinity and moral philosophy are dethroned, man inevitably usurps this seat of power.

While Babbitt sought to synthesize classical morality, Christian grace, and Buddhist thought to celebrate what is common among human beings, his new-fangled wings drove him too close to the sun. By advocating that all human traditions equally have “contributed to the wisdom of the ages, a nucleus of universal human experience that could help us determine salubrious standards for life,”[39] his version of studia humanitatis denied man’s need for a Savior, a singular divine moral check that is not to be found within man himself. His error left New Humanism open to a breed of relativism that would haunt the canon for decades to come.[40] The classical Charter school movement that gained traction in the United States is the natural heir to Babbitt’s philosophy; Holy Scripture and the Analects of Confucius are inevitably considered on equal planes. Their curriculum may include ethics or moral philosophy, but they lack an eternal telos. Adler summarizes the rosy promises of many classical charter schools, from Great Hearts to Hillsdale Charter, in the final chapter of Battle of the Classics:

[The humanities’] special contribution to the educational process is their ability to offer to young people the invitation to improve themselves through the use of models from the past. Profound works of art, literature, philosophy, and religion provide the best means of shaping students’ soul—contributing visions of the good, the true, and the beautiful that can allow human beings to lead sound, happier, and more responsible lives.[41]

Adler claims that Petrarch, Bruni, and Babbitt alike recognized that “the humanities need substance,”[42] but the substance is an ever-widening collection of great books that have a track record of making great men. But what happens when bad men read the humanities and carry on with their evil deeds? Great texts on their own cannot save mankind—the redemption of the world comes through Jesus Christ alone. When the definition of truth is cut off from one divine source, it becomes difficult to argue for its value and efficacy.

Several successors to Irving Babbitt sought to correct his errors by proposing a robust alternative: Christian humanism. Editor, poet, and playwright Thomas Stearns Eliot was mentored by Irving Babbitt when he was an undergraduate at Harvard.[43] Post-conversion, Eliot admitted to being one of New Humanism’s naive victims. As a traditional Christian, he incisively critiqued how Babbitt’s theories pitted humanism against faith in “The Humanism of Irving Babbitt”:

Humanism is either an alternative to religion, or it is ancillary to it […] it always flourishes most when religion has been strong; and if [one] find[s] examples of humanism which are anti-religious, or at least in opposition to the religious faith of the place and time, then such humanism is purely destructive, for it has never found anything to replace what it destroyed.[44]

Like Augustine, Eliot understood that fallen man does not possess the tools to help himself. He must be oriented toward an external source of truth and wisdom, God, in order to fully know and understand himself. He rightly identifies that “Mr. Babbitt seems to think also that the ‘outer’ restraints of an orthodox religion, as they weaken, can be supplied by the inner restraint of the individual over himself.”[45] For Eliot, the function of humanism must always be secondary to religion, as “[one] cannot make humanism itself into a religion.”[46]

In the late 1930s, Eliot began to construct his own philosophy of education. He starts the essay “Modern Education and the Classics” by once again considering the ends of education: “…to know what we want in education we must know what we want in general, we must derive our theory of education from our philosophy of life.”[47] Returning to his critique of Babbitt, he bluntly states, “The problem turns out to be a religious problem.”[48] Eliot believes the defense of the Classics[49] should be dissociated from conversations about the traditional public school or university systems and decaying social order, and instead be associated “with something permanent: the historical Christian Faith.”[50] Of course, Eliot does not believe this excludes secular letters, but rather contends the student “cannot have an ample understanding of Christian literature without seeing it in its setting of non-Christian literature.”[51] Reflecting on the value of education in the midst of World War II, he shows his hand with two exemplars he would include in his ideal program of study:

Every educated Christian should have some acquaintance with St. Augustine and with Pascal […] you cannot understand St. Augustine or Pascal without some study of the worlds in which they lived, and the literature, whether secular or pagan, on which their minds had been fed.[52]

Christians and communists alike admit all education must ultimately be religious education.[53] A truly Christian education is the studia humanitatis in light of the gospel, as this reflects the dual natures of Christ, human and divine. Because man has both a soul and the body, true education should be “both for this world and for the life of prayer in this world.”[54]

Clive Staples Lewis, a contemporary of Eliot’s, was also reflecting upon the value of good education in light of WWII. At the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford 1942, he preached a series of sermons that considered the importance of study in spite of the waging war. He begins “Learning in War-time” with a practical consideration:

Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes.[55]

His use of the word “humanity” is no coincidence. Lewis contends that man’s nature is oriented toward the permanent things, especially in times of great trial or strife. He understood that one’s affections must be oriented towards the things that are eternal: “St. Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind or degree of love which is appropriate to it.”[56] Also like Augustine, Lewis admits that there can be no difference between “sacred” and “secular” activities, but rather, “God’s claim is infinite and inexorable […] Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary human activities.”[57] This is the great paradox of the temporal life, that every seemingly “ordinary” thing humans do is unto the glory of God. If this is so, man must study the past to help make sense of the present “great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone.”[58] As an antidote to this cacophony of information, Lewis recommends the reading of old books:

People were no cleverer than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.[59]

Lewis’s wisdom on education is strikingly similar to the recommendations of Leonardo Bruni in the quattrocentro. The past is certain when the future cannot be, so why not learn from the best of the old books?

Dorothy Sayers, detective novelist, translator, and playwright, certainly saw the value in the past. “We cannot go back—or can we?”[60] she inquired provocatively in her address, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” delivered at a teacher’s college in Oxford in the summer of 1947. Like Lewis, Sayers warned against the disastrous effects unfiltered media could have for undiscerning minds: “By teaching them to all read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words.” But which past did Sayers advocate? Her proposed syllabus was based on the medieval model of education, a “modern Trivium ‘with modifications’” that corresponded to the developmental stages of children: “Grammar to the Poll-parrot, Dialectic to the Pert, and the Rhetoric to the Poetic age.” Sayers then details how teachers may teach the “Grammar,” or foundational elements, of each subject, ranging from Latin, literature, history, geography, mathematics, as well as Theology, “because Theology is the mistress science, without which the whole educational structure will necessarily lack its final synthesis.” Perhaps for obvious reasons, memorization and repetition at the Poll-parrot stage is key. The Dialectic stage, which Sayers identifies with Discursive Reason, should be infused with the instruction of Formal Logic, debates, ethics, and the like. And finally, the Rhetoric stage should allow students a certain level of freedom, where a student can explore the connections between the different subjects, culminating in a “final synthesis of the Trivium—the presentation and public defense of the thesis,” a capstone of the pupil’s diligent years of study.[61]

Sayers asserts the Trivium and Quadrivium, the liberal arts, are the “lost tools of learning […] that were so adaptable to all tasks.” How had they fallen into disuse? By her calculations, the post-Renaissance world, enthralled by “the profusion of new ‘subjects’ offered to it, broke away from the old discipline.” She claims a true education is in the liberal arts, which “teach men how to learn for themselves.”[62] Sayers mistakenly advances a Medieval, pre-Humanist view of the liberal arts, wherein a student must rely on the auctoristas to produce auctores, that with the proper methods, students can mine for wisdom and virtue. The texts become the “tools” by which one constructs his learning, instead of teachers with distinct voices that reach across the ages. While she claims she is putting the onus of learning back on the students, this inventive method[63] undermines the legacy of the Renaissance Humanists. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the fact that classical languages do not factor into her educational vision:

I do not think it either wise or necessary to cramp the ordinary pupil upon the Procrustean bed of the Augustan Age, with its highly elaborate and artificial verse-forms and oratory. The post-classical and mediæval Latin, which was a living language down to the end of the Renaissance, is easier and in some ways livelier, both in syntax and rhythm.[64]

Renaissance humanists and Christian humanists would balk at her casual dismissal of classical languages and her new conception of the liberal arts. Unlike Vergerio and Bruni, Sayers does not commend particular texts, classical or otherwise, but veers at times into prescribing set topics that should be covered in her curriculum. While Sayers is critical of the educational system of her day, I believe she takes for granted her own education, which inherited its shape and substance from the Renaissance Humanists. Sayers was fluent in Latin, Greek, and several modern languages; her schooling was doubtless steeped in the classics. For some reason, perhaps it was her love of medieval Latin, or her situation as an academic in Oxford, where education is so steeped in tradition that it takes more time to reform, but Sayers is not keen to pass on the tradition that had formed her.


  1. Craig Kallendorf, Humanist Educational Treatises. The Il Tatti Renaissance Library, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002, vii. This quotation is clearly a classical allusion, also voiced by Pier Paolo Vergerio in “The Characters and Studies Befitting a Free Born Youth,” 31.
  2. Ibid, vii‒viii. Kallendorf stresses that they were “reformers of a special kind: not the kind who wanted to reform institutions, but the kind who want to leave institutions mostly intact while improving the quality of the human material that directs those institutions.”
  3. Paul F. Grendler, Schooling In Renaissance Italy: Literacy and Learning, 1300-1600, “The Coming of the Studia Humanitatis,” Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, 114.
  4. Ibid., 121.
  5. Because these events take place in the distant past, it may be easy for us to think of both classical and medieval works as “old books,” on the same sort of plane. The curriculum authors (auctoristas) were citing their relative contemporaries, treating them as equal to, or even greater than, the classical texts (perhaps because they were Christian). The humanists took issue with this fact. In the final section of this essay, I will say more about the definition of auctores and provide a contemporary, redemptive clarification about this term.
  6. Grendler, 121.
  7. Ibid., 119.
  8. Ibid. 138‒139.
  9. Translated as “Humane letters,” the study of Greek and Latin literature and philosophy, which is now understood more broadly as “Classics.”
  10. Leonardo Bruni, “The Study of Literature to Lady Battista Malatesta of Montefeltro,” Humanist Educational Treatises. trans. Craig Kallendorf. The Il Tatti Renaissance Library, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002, 97.
  11. Ibid., 105. Interestingly, Bruni emphasizes the same elements that were celebrated by Cicero in De Oratione.
  12. Ibid., 123.
  13. Bruni claims he is the best secular author.
  14. Ibid., 111.
  15. Eric Adler, The Battle of the Classics: How a Nineteenth-Century Debate Can Save the Humanities Today. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020, 47.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. C. Stephen Jaeger, The Envy of Angels, 77. Jaeger quotes Seneca to illustrate the influence that the cultus virtutum had on the Scholastics: “The living voice and a life shared by pupil and master [convictus] benefit you more than any speech… Long is the path through precepts; brief and effective through examples.”
  19. Vergerio, “The Study of Literature,” 5.
  20. Ibid., 29.
  21. Ibid., 47.
  22. Vergerio, “The Study of Literature,” 45.
  23. The phrase “knowledge and love of God” should be read as synonymous with Bruni’s recommended study of “divinity and moral philosophy.”
  24. Grendler, “The Coming of the Studia Humanitatis,” 131.
  25. Ibid., 132.
  26. In his preface to Chapter 5, “The Coming of the Studia Humanitatis,” Grendler reminds readers that “Curriculum revolutions are rare occurrences. Education resists change so successfully that Western civilization has witnessed only a handful in three millennia. The Greeks and Romans established the earliest known form of Western education. After the ancient rhetorical curriculum fell with Rome, medieval men created a new education based on logic and Christianity which retained a few elements of Greco-Roman education. A third educational revolution occurred during the Italian Renaissance, when pre-university schooling based on a thorough grounding in Latin and, to a lesser extent, the Greek classics began. The Italian humanists and the northern humanists who followed established the studia humanitatis to train students in eloquence and wisdom. A Latin education based on the classics became the norm for the sons and a few daughters of the elite, and those from the middle class who hoped to rise, in Italy in the fifteenth century and the rest of Europe in the sixteenth century. The humanist educators succeeded so well that the Latin humanistic curriculum lasted well into the twentieth century,” 110. Interestingly, in the wake of WWII, the torch of humanism was taken up again by the Christian humanists, who propose a return to the mode of education that had produced great thinkers, writers, pastors, and politicians for almost 500 years.
  27. Adler, 175.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid., 42.
  30. Ibid., 172.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Ibid., 185.
  33. Ibid., 182.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana: Liber Primus, part 23.
  36. Adler, 172.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Adler, 182.
  40. Adler backs away from curriculum recommendations in Chapter 6, “Toward a Truly Ecumenical Wisdom,”: “No individual can—or should—dictate a curriculum for all American higher education. This book aims not to prescribe an ironclad course of studies but rather to highlight the prevailing—and problematic—tendency for humanist scholars to relinquish their responsibility to debate such matters in an open and transparent way, secure in the knowledge that what they teach matters,” 208. While he claims “we need a humanistic revival,” he inevitably forces the question: which humanism?
  41. Ibid., 206.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Ibid, 192.
  44. T.S. Eliot, Frances Dickey, Jennifer Formichelli, and Ronald Schuchard. “The Humanism of Irving Babbitt.” The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot: The Critical Edition: Literature, Politics, Belief, 1927-1929. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015, 457.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Eliot, Frances Dickey, Jennifer Formichelli, and Ronald Schuchard. “Modern Education and the Classics,” The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot: The Critical Edition: Tradition and Orthodoxy, 1934-1939, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017, 337.
  48. Ibid.
  49. Eliot explicitly defines “Classics” as the texts of Latin and Greek Languages, 341.
  50. Eliot, “Modern Education and the Classics,” 342.
  51. Eliot, T.S. David E. Chinitz, and Ronald Schuchard, “The Christian Conception of Education,” The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot: The Critical Edition: The War Years, 1940-1946, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017, 251.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Eliot, “Modern Education and the Classics,” 343.
  54. Ibid., 344.
  55. Clive Staples Lewis, “Learning in War Time,” The Weight of Glory. ed. Walter Hooper. William Collins Press, 1980, 30.
  56. Lewis, C.S. “Men Without Chests.” The Abolition of Man: Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in Upper Forms of School. Harper Collins ebook, 2009.
  57. Ibid., 33.
  58. Ibid., 36.
  59. C.S. Lewis and Walter Hooper, “On the Reading of Old Books,” God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970, 202.
  60. Dorothy L. Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Louisville: GLH Publishing, 2017, 12.
  61. Ibid., 11‒22.
  62. Ibid., 22‒23.
  63. Dr. Schlect speaks about the way in which Sayers’ project seems like a kind of “Dr. Frankenstein stitching together of dead body parts that no medieval would recognize” in his Webinar “Did Dorothy Sayers Get it Wrong?” New Saint Andrews College, 22 July 2020. Perhaps the best of Sayers’ legacy on the CCE movement is that she re-introduces parents, teachers, and students to the concept of liberal arts, even if her methods are innovative and applications flawed.
  64. Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” 13‒14.


Sarah Collister

Sarah Collister is a writer, teacher, and Anglican who lives in Cambridge with her beloved husband, Clinton.

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