While snooping around in the Marion Wade Center‘s archives last year, I discovered a gem of an article by Dorothy L. Sayers in the little magazine Oxford. In it, she explained with her characteristic verve and insight why academic scholarship, while it may seem otiose and impractical to the outsider, is in fact a very great boon to the world. And I noted the resonances between this article and her now world-famous essay (which has become the founding document of countless Christian private schools–especially in the classical model) “The Lost Tools of Learning.”
At that point, I skimmed the article, noting that this was the same theme that animated her wonderful novel Gaudy Night. Then I put it away and went on to other things. This summer, back at the Wade, I dug out the article again and made some notes on it, then had it photocopied. Here is a sample: Continue reading
Clearly the culture wars, whose early volleys ripped through the heated air of Tennessee summer during the infamous 1925 Scopes Trial, continue to bombard us in this 21st-century summer.
The Texas school board is rewriting American history, and the hackles, ire, and bile of journalists are rising to the occasion. Even rumors of corporate malfeasance on the part of BP haven’t elicited the sort of apocalyptic rhetoric you’ll find in the second of the two recent responses to “the Texas schoolbook massacre” here and here.
Are the critics overreaching themselves, or are we really experiencing the Armageddon of Reason?
Here’s one more take on Comenius, posted as a newsletter on ct.com:
Christian History Corner: A Protestant Bishop Speaks Out on the Stakes of Public Education
Why concerned parents should read the 17th-century Moravian educational reformer Jan Amos Comenius.
By Chris Armstrong | posted 08/30/2002
This summer, dissatisfaction over America’s education system has been in the news. James Dobson has repeated his public appeal to parents to pull their kids out of public school, and the idea of vouchers has continued to run its political and legislative gauntlets. No one has expressed the stakes involved in schooling our kids more vividly than Jan Amos Comenius, a 17th-century Protestant bishop and the man universally recognized as the “Father of Modern Education.”
Comenius, a member of the persecuted Unity of the Brethren—precursor of the Moravian church—saw the schools of his day as “slaughterhouses of the mind,” places made dull by rote memorization and frightening by draconian discipline.
But he didn’t just talk. He did something. Even as he and his Protestant sect ran for their lives—exiled from their homeland as a result of the Thirty Years War—he launched his lifelong efforts at educational reform. Continue reading