Posted by Curt on 14 September, 2015 at 10:06 am. 6 comments already!


Joy Pullmann:

“When applied to education, [progressivism] dictates that students are no longer to be taught to know permanently true, good, and beautiful things because such things do not exist (at worst) or are simply unknowable (at best). Instead, the children are taught to adapt to their environment…

If the truth cannot be known and does not govern human societies, then there is nothing to restrain the rulers. If rights are not derived from truth, then they are granted by the ever-changing state. Liberty and knowable truth are interdependent.” — Gene Edward Veith and Andrew Kern, “Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America”

As you enter Ridgeview Classical Schools’ newest building, built to help relieve its perennially full wait list of some 900 students, a marble inscription thunders at you, and the whole world, through the full-glass entrance: “What will justify your life?” Just inside, a former Louisiana State University professor is overseeing study hall. Between sharp rebuffs when students titter, Robert McMahon explains he’s come cross-country to teach high-school literature because the former professor “got sick of the hatred for undergrad teaching.”

Teaching is what McMahon loves. The PhD is the author of four books, one on teaching high-school literature, and he’s won a bevy of teaching awards. That’s somewhat surprising at first glance, considering his sharp and exacting manner towards the 14-year-olds reading around a set of tables arranged in a square.

But talk to him a bit, and you’ll find that this bespectacled man who has never owned a television and disdains modern teaching methods—“Advanced Placement teachers don’t assign whole books. It’s a preparation with no intellectual integrity whatsoever”—can pierce your soul in just a few minutes of quiet conversation.

“The discipline I teach is reading carefully and understanding what you read,” he says. “You can either understand what the words mean and map it onto the bigger issues in the work, or you can’t.”

A central problem with much instruction now is the demand that students apply it to “the real world” before they have fully digested it, he says. Students never learn the art of full and sustained attention, which dilutes their character as much as it does their intellect.

“The capacity to pay attention to someone is directly proportional to your capacity to love,” he says, which lands right between my ribs as I consider what this means about fiddling with my smartphone when my husband is trying to talk.

Statements like this, which alone form a full meal for mind and soul, abound on Ridgeview’s K-12, 780-student campus in Fort Collins, Colorado. Try this one on for size, from Principal Derek Anderson: “We’re not training [students] for a job, but for life. Your life is divided into thirds: sleep, work, leisure. Sometimes your work does define you. But so does your leisure, and if you don’t use that well, a third of your life will be destitute…Americans fill leisure with escapism or more work because they don’t know what to fill it with.”

The Arts Befitting Free Men

Ridgeview is a classical school, where children learn phonics, traditional math and science, Latin, and the Western and American heritage. They study the great books and receive explicit instruction in art and music. In other words, they study the real liberal arts: what centuries of Western leaders, including America’s founders, have considered necessary instruction for free men who govern themselves.

Because it’s a public charter school started and managed by a board of local parents, students attend for free—if they can get in. U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Ridgeview’s high school among the best in the state and nation, based on test scores faculty consider a joke because the tests measure disjointed collections of factoids.

“We went the charter route [instead of starting a private school] because we believed everybody should have access to a good public education, and is capable of it,” said Peggy Schunk, a mother who helped found the school and who now runs the school’s admissions and human resources.

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x