Are you a parent who’s considering classical Christian education?
The handpicked books and guides below will provide you with a holistic and thorough picture. They are organized into levels based on understandability and importance. Find the book you need based on our descriptions, or read through the whole list.
Your First Introduction
“The Lost Tools of Learning” – By Dorothy Sayers
This essay by Dorothy Sayers played an enormous role in starting the classical Christian movement in America. In it, Sayers proposes organizing schools with the classical trivium in mind and studying Latin.
Introduction to Classical Christian Education by Dr. Christopher Perrin
This 28-page booklet introduces classical education to parents concisely with anecdotes and diagrams. It contains some history, explanations of classical education’s distinctive elements, and examples of alumni achievements.
Foundational For New Teachers And Parents
The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain
This book is a must-read for everyone involved in CCE. It clearly surveys elements of classical education as they were historically and what they mean for classical educators today. The second edition greatly expands on the first. It covers the seven liberal arts themselves as tools of learning, piety as it refers to loving goodness, the types of philosophy (which means love of wisdom), poetic knowledge, and more.
A Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
The Case for Classical Christian Education (2003) expands on Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (1991) which played an important role in starting the CCE, although readers may find parts outdated at this point. In both, Wilson argues for classical Christian education and against public schools and the removal of religion from education.
Wisdom and Eloquence by Robert Littlejohn and Charles Evans
This book is good if you are looking for a defense of the trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) as it was once used to train rhetoricians (i.e. speakers and lawyers) in Greece and Rome. The liberal arts equip students to see through current trends, to be creative and flexible in changing circumstances, to have sound judgement, and to communicate persuasively.It is a good follow up to Sayer’s essay The Lost Tools of Learning and Wilson’s use of it in the Case for Classical Christian Education and Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning which both treat the trivium mainly as it fits with stages of childhood development. For a complete treatment of the subject, see The Liberal Arts Tradition by Clark and Jain.
Norms and Nobility by David Hicks
Written in 1981, before many modern classical schools existed, this book closely associates classical education with moral education based on C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man. It explains how classical education could be implemented in Christian schools to develop a spirit of inquiry, and character. The chapter on Paideia is especially insightful.
Ancient Voices by Louis Markos
This short and friendly book looks at the vibrant worldview behind the minds of famous Greek authors. Although not directly about school, this book is helpful for thinking about the heritage of CCE and what the ancient authors would have to say about education.
Read Next If You Are Involved In CCE
The Abolition of Man
In three short but dense essays, C.S. Lewis takes a look at the curriculum of high school education and explains why it leads to moral relativism, subjectivism, and an unhealthy desire to “debunk” everything. Instead, he defends moral education. All three essays add up to about 130 pages, and could be read in an afternoon. Note that the third book in Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy, That Hideous Strength, explains many of the same ideas through story, so consider reading them together.
Rallying the Really Human Things by Vigen Guroian
Subtitle: Moral Imagination in Politics, Literature, and Everyday Life
This book explains the damage modernity has done to our moral imaginations–imagination that pictures human dignity and goodness through stories and images. It traces the history of the term “moral imagination” and also looks at older Christian sources. For those who want to know more about moral education or the term “moral imagination”, this book is your book.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Joseph Pieper
Joseph Pieper argues against the hectic, frantic, busy work of modernity and emphasises the importance of training the mind to contemplate and perceive reality. It was an important part of what made the Greeks and Medievals great. Poetic Knowledge by James TaylorModern education was been limited to the transfer of bits of information. In this book Taylor explains that students from Greece through the renaissance were taught much more than information-knowledge. Instead, they relied on the integrated powers of sensory experience and intuition.
The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory
This book is a standard teacher training text among classical schools. It provides keen insight from a 19th century educator on basic educational techniques. A must read for teachers, but less relevant if you’re not actively teaching.