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Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education Paperback – September 30, 1999
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About the Author
David V. Hicks is President of the Darlington School in Rome, Ga.
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That life hasn't always been easy. Despite the harsh setbacks he has been dealt, David V. Hicks has modeled a life that champions valor and virtue, words that almost have disappeared from our civic discourse.
For parents and pupils alike, the question Hicks poses is fundamental: what is the chief purpose of education? Is it merely to build a skill set for a technological age, ignoring issues of honesty, integrity, courage, honor, duty, commitment, and personal sacrifice for the good of the larger community? Or do those fundamental virtues (an old-fashioned perspective, but a perspective central in the classical world) still have importance to modern education?
Bill Bennett has explored this territory, but Hicks was there first. For David V. Hicks, education always has been about paiedea, modeling the classical virtues both in the persons of the teachers and in the materials selected for instruction so as to teach them to pupils. And Hicks argues that stories about heroism, valor, and self-sacrifice are more compelling to pupils than "Dick, Jane, and Spot" in any event. So character-based education is inherently more interesting, and more effective, than more conventional "modern" fare in any event.
Hicks's careful scholarship teaches both the principles of classical (character-building) education, and offers a strategy for integrating the best aspects of that educational philosophy into the modern classroom.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon remind us that our children will need more than familiarity with technology to prevail in this new type of warfare. They will need all the courage, tenacity, and valor they can learn, both in school, from their parents and other role models, and from their brothers and sisters in this struggle. These new "fair and foul" times demand revival of our ancient virtue and ancient valor.
Although the words "virtue" and "valor" almost have vanished from our collective vocabularies, we defeated the Nazis and fascists with these qualities of character. In this dangerous new age, our children will require more than technical skills. We must do what we can to teach them the classical virtues at the foundation of our civilization. Hicks's book is the classic primer in this important subject.