Frustrated with the continuing educational crisis of our time, concerned parents, teachers, and students sense that true reform requires more than innovative classroom technology, standardized tests, or skills training. An older tradition—the Great Tradition—of education in the West is waiting to be heard. Since antiquity, the Great Tradition has defined education first and foremost as the hard work of rightly ordering the human soul, helping it to love what it ought to love, and helping it to know itself and its maker. In the classical and Christian tradition, the formation of the soul in wisdom, virtue, and eloquence took precedence over all else, including instrumental training aimed at the inculcation of "useful" knowledge.
Edited by historian Richard Gamble, this anthology reconstructs a centuries-long conversation about the goals, conditions, and ultimate value of true education. Spanning more than two millennia, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers, it includes substantial excerpts from more than sixty seminal writings on education. Represented here are the wisdom and insight of such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Basil, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, Edmund Burke, John Henry Newman, Thomas Arnold, Albert Jay Nock, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Eric Voegelin.
In an unbroken chain of giving and receiving, The Great Tradition embraced the accumulated wisdom of the past and understood education as the initiation of students into a body of truth. This unique collection is designed to help parents, students, and teachers reconnect with this noble legacy, to articulate a coherent defense of the liberal arts tradition, and to do battle with the modern utilitarians and vocationalists who dominate educational theory and practice.
"The Great Tradition provides a treasury of insights into Western education that no school leadership can afford to ignore. Something will speak to everybody with a mildly curious mind: headmasters who want help with the curriculum (Quintilian), parents who want to raise wise and virtuous children (Chrysostom), lovers of the classics (Philip Melanchthon), students setting life goals (Basil The Great), teachers who want help focusing their efforts (Aristotle), the historically curious (from Plato to C. S. Lewis), and board members setting priorities (Paul Elmer More). Every now and then someone does the world the invaluable favor of reminding us how we got here and what we’ve left behind. Richard M. Gamble has done so for a new generation." —Andrew Kern, President, CiRCE Institute, and coauthor of Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America
"An impressive new volume of selected readings which trace the thread of education as it is woven into our cultural fabric, spanning more than 2,000 years, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers....Gamble has delivered a rich resource for families, teachers and schools —yes, even public schools, if they would use it. Home educators are certain to find it an invaluable addition to their library." —Randall Murphree, American Family Association
"Masterfully edited by Gamble, [this] is a unique anthology best described in the term given by Mortimer Adler years ago--conversation… 'Anticipating the objections of critics who allege that the classical and Christian traditions are not useful in the modern world, Gamble declares, The Great Tradition, in contrast, anchored in the classical and Christian humanism of liberal education, has taken the broader view that what is useful is that which helps men and women to flourish in nonmaterial ways as well--in other words, that which helps them to be happy…' If there is any hope for an educational Renaissance, especially within the liberal arts, it will have to occur with a sense of the authentic and primarily formative education exemplified by the readings in this book." —Journal of the Faith and the Academy