Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons – In this apologia of classical education and, more specifically, the role of Latin and Greek in the curriculum over millennia, Tracy Lee Simmons summarizes and argues for the central place the classical languages have had and should have for all classical schools. You will come away wanting to learn the languages and read your Homer and Cicero.
The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis – The best concise criticism of “data-based” and deconstructionist modern education, Lewis sets out to show how traditional education trains up real humans, instead of “men without chests”. A must to read and re-read.
“Democratic Education” by C.S. Lewis – In this short article, Lewis looks at the difference between “equality” in education and education that will preserve equality. (Available here.)
Wisdom and Eloquence by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans – Written by an experienced teacher and administrator, Wisdom and Eloquence is a great entry point for not only the theory behind liberal education, but also some of the practical steps to be taken on the path of Christian learning.
The Idea of a Christian College by Arthur F. Holmes – Though written specifically for the Christian college, the Christ-centered, transformational educational goals outlined by Holmes make this book a great read for parents interested in Christian liberal arts education.
“Of Education” by John Milton – In this short letter, Milton provides the Christian with the single greatest definition of the purpose of education: “The end then of Learning is to repair the ruins of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” (Available online here.)
Character Driven College Preparation by John William Turner – The founder of the University Model Schools (UMS) method of schooling, Dr. Turner lays out the vision and major ideas behind UMS schooling, especially the involvement of parents in their children’s education and lives as a whole. (Chapter 1 available online here.)
The Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph – Simply put, this book is an essential reference for all of us as teachers and parents in classical schools. Sister Joseph lays out not only what the verbal arts are, but also gives a condensed reference of the arts in action, including a helpful primer of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory – For any parent who believes that she “is not a teacher”, Gregory’s classic work on the fundamentals of teaching will assure her that yes, we do and can all teach our children not only academic truths, but principals for living life for the Kingdom’s sake.
Desiring the Kingdom by James K. Smith – In this volume Smith argues that human beings are primarily “loving” creatures rather than cognitive, meaning that any true education has to re-orient and re-order the desires of our hearts if we are to truly be transformed. He follows Augustine and Socrates in this line of thinking that Human education is primarily the task of bringing order to the disordered soul and mind. We must learn to love what is True and desire the Creator whose Beauty and Goodness flows out into His creation.
The Republic of Plato – Besides its own beauty as a treatment of such weighty topics of justice and the right ordering of society, The Republic is the greatest example of what dialogue-based (“Socratic dialogue”) education looks like in practice, not only from the method of instruction but also the topics being undertaken. (Available online here.)
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis – This book covers so much more than a “Christian education”, but Thomas reminds us of two essential elements of true learning early in the work: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?” and “Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.” (Available online here.)