As public school leaders, administrators, staff and teachers continue to grapple with improving the achievement levels of students, preparing them to be able to succeed in an uncertain future, perhaps we should look to the past to be able to move forward, and revisit how learning was delivered in an earlier time. Rather than simply trying to improve education in the post-modern era with an emphasis on STEM/STEAM/STREAM initiatives, it may be prudent to re-examine the pillars of Classical Education.
To discover what Classical Education is, and the difference between it and Modern Education, visit https://www.circeinstitute.org/resources/what-classical-education. One of the most difficult comparisons involves the acknowledgement of a “The Divine Spark” in every person. Interestingly, when public education first began in this nation, the “reader” provided to students was The Bible, and there was prayer in school.
There has been a long history of conflict over school prayer. During the 19th century, there were continual battles between Protestants and Catholics over which version of the Bible was to be used in schools. During the 20th century, there were many conflicts over the precise text of school prayers. The 1962 lawsuit, Engel v. Vitale, examined the New York State Board of Regents’ 22-word “nondenominational prayer” to an unspecified deity which they had offered to state school boards for daily use in schools during classes. It stated: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country. Needless to say, many secular, Agnostic, Atheist and perhaps Deist parents, and parents who supported the separation of Church and State were not pleased with the prayer. The court decided that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage or require its recitation in public schools. (Source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/ps_pra9.htm, accessed 2.24.17)
It’s only been in recent years that religion and prayer have been further and further separated from the public school environment, many times in opposition to what the law actually permits. With that in mind, visit Rebekah Hagstrom’s TedX presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m5yDZCy2pE, “What if everyone had a Classical Education?”
We can only dare to dream.