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Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning Paperback – April 12, 2006
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"Wisdom and Eloquence is an indispensable contribution to the literature of classical Christian education."
—E. Christian KopffAssociate Director, Honors Program; Director, Center for Western Civilization
"Evans and Littlejohn have written a remarkable treatise on education-a readable, practical, and encouraging discourse that demystifies and clarifies the purpose of a liberal education."
—D. Bruce LockerbieChairman, Paideia, Inc., Stony Brook, New York; Author, A Christian Paideia: The Habitual Vision of Greatness
"The authors explore not just the methods but the content of a good Christian education. The book is full of great ideas, but it is also practical, drawing from the authors' years of experience as classical teachers and administrators."
—Gene Edward Veith Jr., Provost and Professor of Literature, Patrick Henry College; Director, Cranach Institute, Concordia Theological Seminary
"For followers of Christ, a true education is always concerned with who we are, even more than what we know. Littlejohn and Evans help today's Christians-especially parents-to understand the essence of true education. Wisdom and Eloquence is a book for our times, our churches, and our children. Read, learn, and be inspired."
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
About the Author
Robert Littlejohn (PhD, Washington State University) has served as head of school at Trinity Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, since May of 2005. He previously served as the vice president for academic affairs at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. As a PhD biologist, he has authored two College Biology Laboratory texts and has published twenty-six reports of original research in refereed journals in the different fields. He is also a consultant to colleges and schools across the nation.
Charles T. Evans is the founder and senior partner of BetterSchools, LLC. In addition to his work as a private school management consultant, Evans also served for six years as the executive director of the Texas Private Schools Association. He is an adjunct instructor of higher education in the department of leadership, policy, and organization at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and an instructor in the Van Lunen Fellowship for Christian School Management at Calvin College. Evans currently lives in Austin, Texas.
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The book is largely the philosophy of education of the authors. They suggest the whole education of K-12 to have an objective, and with that end in mind to plan from the top – graduation – down. “We must look first to the desired end of the educational process, to the skills, knowledge, and virtues we want to be universally inherent in our graduates and determine how to get them there” (166). The Christian perspective must be kept in mind by educators: “We don’t produce these leaders (that is the work of the Holy Spirit), but we can encourage this potential by reminding ourselves and each other that all our students, whether they profess faith or not, are fashioned in God’s own image” (45). The authors go so far as to say the Christian school should have a Christian faculty:
A non-Christian teacher’s presuppositions, no matter how sympathetic toward or accepting he may be of Christian ethics, places him at odds with the Christian worldview, especially in metaphysics (one’s understanding of why and how things exist) and epistemology (one’s understanding of how we can know what we know). This is an unacceptable conflict that renders the Christian school’s mission ineffective and hypocritical. So, Christ must be the central reference point of the teacher’s life in a way that recognizes him as the active and irresistible Creator, Ruler, and Redeemer of the universe. The Christian teacher must also be committed to placing the welfare of others ahead of his own. (157)
Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning
But that's only a small part of the book, the controversial part that stood out to me the most. Overall, the point of this book is Wisdom and Eloquence (yes, the tome is aptly named). The goal is to raise up children to be wise and eloquent, and everything is centred around that goal. I found the book to be more practical than most, with helpful suggestions and advice scattered throughout. Definitely worth reading if you want to start a school. :-)
To fit all their curriculum into a classical model---the trivium and quadrivium---the authors seem to use each of the 7 Liberal Arts as a thematic umbrella, fitting any material under the "art" it seems to fit best. For example...
"Grammar" is indicative of:
-Reading, writing, spelling, and vocabulary
-English grammar (obviously)
-Foreign and classical languages
"Astronomy" is expanded to include all the natural sciences:
Etc. Overall, a helpful book. I liked it. That means 3 stars.