Why classical education is a great school choice option | Barney Bishop III

Regarding your recent guest column, “The virtues of a classical education”, it was clearly misleading as classical education is so much more than teaching students about Western tradition which clearly illustrates, despite the credentials of the columnist, that he possesses a very narrow perspective of classical education.

Classical education harkens back to the time of Aristotle and Plato and accordingly it is about passing on critical concepts such as being virtuous, learning personal responsibility, civic values and one’s obligations to society, moral character, critical thinking, so that the student becomes a well-rounded citizen.

This is accomplished through a content-rich curriculum that focuses on the classics of literature and history, exposure to arts (including Renaissance art!) and the sciences, learning Latin and Greek root words, and in modern classical education it includes Phonics, Singapore Math, requiring them to learn to play a musical instrument, and even physical education.

Anyone can select certain sentences or declarations from past leaders, as the columnist did, whether they are liberal or conservative, and hold them up for critique.  This cherry-picking is simplistic, and any professor knows that.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has thankfully led the battle to take back our so-called “public education” from the progressive far left that we were all exposed to during COVID.  What parents learned over time was that our various university and collegiate schools of education have become a breeding ground for Marxist-Leninist thought, a preoccupation with sexuality and pronouns, and a fervent belief that teachers need not be questioned about their roles or curriculum content as they know best what our children should learn, and that parent’s rights are non-existent.

For K-8. A teaching tool from the 1619 Project, Born on the Water  explores a young Black student unsure of how to complete a class project that asks students to share their ancestry. The book brings forth the reality of how Black history, culture, and contributions to society have been overlooked and undervalued, according to the educator's guide created by the Pulitzer Center.

So, when pseudo-academics invented flawed theories like critical race theory, or the 1619 Project, it quickly became a bridge too far because these radical teachings were not based on fact.

The countries in Europe and elsewhere that have higher rated educational systems than the USA, and certainly in China, aren’t being taught these esoteric subjects because they hold no educational value.  Most American students today, outside of the top 10%, are getting a mediocre education at best, and at worst, are being taught that diverse thinking is frightful and condemns one to the margins of society and that Free Speech Zones are the new norms for our fragile snowflakes.

More: The virtues of an American classical education

The columnist’s lack of appropriate perspective is that he sees, and one can assume has thus taught his students, that racism is endemic from our country’s founding.  If he had secured a classical education, he would have known that slavery preceded our nation’s birth, and its roots go back to the Middle East over two millennia ago.  To look askance at the dreadful past through today’s lenses without also acknowledging the brilliance of humanity and the good that took place is akin to a horse with blinders on.

His desperate attempt to equate classical education with racial animus among contemporary elites is misplaced because learning about the horrific practice of human denigration through slavery is exactly what a well-rounded student must learn so that they are committed to never repeating it in the future.

Classical education isn’t the problem, the problem is that parents now understand the shortcomings of our current educational system and are demanding change by seeking school choice across the board.

Barney Bishop III is the CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, a Tallahassee-based strategic public affairs firm, and he is the immediate past chair of the board of trustees at Tallahassee Classical School. He still serves on their board. The views expressed here are his own and don’t reflect the views of the board. He can be reached at Barney@BarneyBishop.com


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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Why classical education is a great school choice option | Barney Bishop III