Reviewed by: Larry Oldaker
Date posted: 09/18/2005
The Case for Classical Christian Education, by Douglas Wilson. Published by Crossway Books, 2003. Paperback, 256 pages, list price $15.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Larry Oldaker.
Douglas Wilson's new book is a good one to read if you want to know about classical Christian education. The book has short chapters; several are very practical with concrete examples. There are plenty of notes along with subject and Scripture indexes. Wilson tackles substantial issues in his witty and conversational style. The short chapters and Wilson's style make this book easy to read.
The classical Christian method is defined by a commitment to two basic aspects. Wilson follows Dorothy Sayer's insight that children grow through stages that correspond to the three elements of the trivium (grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric). Grammar refers to the constituent parts of each subject, the facts. Dialectic refers to logical process of sorting the facts. Rhetoric refers to putting the sorted facts into a good presentation. The second aspect is an emphasis on Western culture as the context of the advancement of the historic Christian faith.
Wilson presents a good case for Christian education. He argues for a solely classical approach to education, but Christian education is bigger than that. Wilson makes comments like "The Christian faith teaches that God has established the world in hierarchical strata. In contrast, the democratic faith teaches that we are all equal and that any child can become president." However, there is a degree of truth in both statements. Also, Wilson's simplistic style leaves much unsaid. Nevertheless, the book challenges us to seriously reform education in the light of the Word of God.