Read About Classical Christian Education

100 Level | 200 Level | 300 Level | 400 Level500 Level

Book recommendations for all levels of interest

Are you a parent who’s considering classical Christian education? Or maybe you’re a teacher who has been doing this for years? Either way, the handpicked books and guides below will provide you with a wholistic 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.

100  Your first introduction

 

Lost Tools of Learning

 by Dorothy Sayers

This essay by Dorothy Sayers played an enormous role in starting the classical Christian movement in America. You can read it for free on our website here. In it, Sayers proposes organizing schools with the classical trivium in mind and studying Latin.

Discover Booklets

by The Ambrose Group

These magazine-sized booklets explain and defend classical Christian education to the uninitiated in just a few pages. They are also often found on the front desk or inside information packets for new or interested parents.

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.

200 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the Lost Tools of Learning (1991) which played an important role in starting the CCE, although readers may find parts outdated at this point.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 about education.

 

300  Read next if you are involved in CCE

 

The Abolition of Man

 by C. S. Lewis

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 TrilogyThat 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. If you’re looking for a shorter description, see our description here. 

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. Consider reading this article by Andrew Kern if you’re wondering how rigor and leisure go together in classical education.

Poetic Knowledge

by James Taylor

Modern 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. 

We offer a workbook you can purchase here.

400 Scholarly works for the invested

 

Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture

 by Werner Jaeger

This is a scholarly read that thoroughly discusses the Greek concept of paideia in their history and culture. The concept of paideia is so foreign to our culture that the depth here is helpful for classical educators. If you’re looking for a more succinct book, try The Greek Paideia in Christianity, also by Jaeger.

The Great Tradition

Collected by Richard Gamble

Subtitle: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being
This is an amazing collection of essays on education down through the millennium. And, they all point to classical Christian education and its importance. From the ancient Greeks to early church fathers to 19th century thinkers, these writings reveal an important story in education that’s rarely told today.

The Marriage of Philology and Mercury

by Martianus Capella

Capella describes the seven liberal arts in an allegory, which made it appealing to later medievals despite the fact that Martianus wasn’t a Christian. He wrote at the turn of the 5th century (contemporary of Augustine) in Carthage (near Augustine). His book is no doubt influenced by the same culture of education in which Augustine was trained, and which the latter advanced in a Christianized form in his famous treatise, On Christian Doctrine.

Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America

by Gene Veith, Jr. & Andrew Kern

This short book, written in 1001, positions classical education as the answer to failing American education in general. It briefly diagnoses the current educational problem, then sketches how classical education has been implemented by a variety of groups including Catholic and Protestant Christians, great book enthusiasts, homeschool families, and those serving poor and minority students in America and abroad. N.B.: The first edition was subtitled Towards the Revival of American Schooling.

 

500  A master’s level journey in history

 

This section’s books are taken from a masters level course offered by Dr. Christopher Schlect at New Saint Andrews College. Consider this program if you want a guide to help you as you work though these ancient sources.

The Envy of Angels

 by Stephen Jaeger

Cathedral Schools and Social Ideals in Medieval Europe

This scholarly book on education in the late middle ages looks at their emphasis on moral education and imitating one’s teacher. It studies education in the period of time after the decline of Monastic schools and before the 12th century renaissance when we get authors such as Hugh of St. Victor. This book fills that gap for those interested in the history of medieval education.

Institutes of Oratory

by Quintilian

Quintilian was a first century Roman rhetorician and teacher. He wrote this book, Institutio Oratoria, as a twelve part rhetoric training program, although it also paints a picture of education in general since rhetoric was a key element and goal of what we call the trivium.

On Christian Doctrine (Teaching)

by Augustine

Augustine, a Christian through and through, argues that there is much value in the excellent liberal education that dominated the pagan Roman world (e.g. Logic, Rhetoric). However, he takes great pains to preserve the antithesis between belief and unbelief, and so he urges his vision for a classical education that is distinctly Christian.

An Introduction to Divine and Human Readings

by Cassiodorus

Cassiodorus flourished in the mid 500’s, and was secretary to Ostrogothic King Theodoric. He founded a monastery, and his educational program, which he outlines in this work, would become the pattern for studious pursuits in monasteries throughout Christendom. It was his influence that turned monasteries into centers of learning that preserved texts. Cassiodorus believed that a certain program of education, the Seven Liberal Arts, was important for this work. The first half catalogues and comments on the Bible and other Christian texts. The second half of this work outlines the educational program he envisions and categorizes subjects.

The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor

by Hugh of St. Victor

Hugh of St. Victor wrote in the late middle ages, the 12th century, near Paris. In an outline for all learning, he talks about the four branches of philosophy: theoretical arts (which includes the quadrivium), practical arts, mechanical arts, logical arts (which includes the trivium).

Humanist Educational Treatises

by Kallendorf

The Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries produced what we call the humanities. The scholars of the time, the humanists, highly emphasized classic literature in education. This book deals with the ideas that came from their efforts.