Monday, November 05, 2007

A synopsis of some of my thoughts about classic liberal education

Back in a post about Latin-Based Curriculum, someone named J.C. commented that the Andrew Campbell book, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, tended to be anti-Catholic, or at least anti-scholastic. I commented on that post, but I'd like to bring that comment to the top to get come conversation going. So, without further ado:

I haven't read Campbell's book so can't evaluate his approach per se. I like this list, though because I tend toward the rhetorical, rather than the philosophical, to use Bruce Kimball's (and Christopher Dawson's) distinction.

I took the idea that the components of the trivium were disciplines in their own right not as a contrast with theology as their raison d'ĂȘtre, but with Dorothy Sayers' idea that all disciplines have their own form of the trivium.

I think the classical trivium studied as disciplines, good catechesis and mystagogia, and good literature are the proper preamble for what Andrew Seeley has called the sapiential disciplines--philosophy, theology, etc..

I also think a purely great books approach is inadequate, for the reasons Fr. Schall mentions in A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning, which I'm mentioned on this page. Wyoming Catholic college seems to recognize this by teaching the Trivium through the four years of undergraduate studies.

I agree with Newman that philosophy which opens up to theology is the coordinating discipline of undergraduate education and believe that scientific theology is an advanced study for upper classmen.

I also should mention that I didn't just recently discover Derrick's book, but rather read it a few years ago and have loved it and had a high regard for TAC ever since.

There. I've expressed all my main thoughts about these things.


Drew said...

I didn't read the original comment about my book being anti-Catholic, but I've seen similar criticisms elsewhere (perhaps from the same person?). I've also had Protestants complain that it's "too Catholic." Obviously you can't please everyone.

For what it's worth, I am Catholic myself and was in the process of returning to the Church when the book appeared. My publisher is decidedly "mere Christian." I also wanted the book to have the widest possible readership - Christian and non-Christian, Catholic and Protestant and Orthodox - and so I did not set out to create a specifically Catholic program. I do emphasize that parents should adapt what I've written to their needs, most especially in the area of religion.

That said, I hope that there will someday be a second edition of LCC, and I would certainly beef up the church history and theology aspects of the high school readings, along with a more coherent approach to world history. The book is by no means perfect - and as the author, I am painfully aware of that fact - but anti-Catholic?

-Drew Campbell

Robert said...

Thanks for this clarification. It is helpful and concurs with my intuition about your book based on the list I included from your web page in the original post.

No wonder you didn't read the original comment: I didn't put the url in this post. My bad. Here it is.