Jump to content

Virtue vs. Virtue-Signaling


Recommended Posts

First Things

Renatae Litterae

James Hankins

10 . 11 . 21

Last weekend I attended the “Higher Education Summit,” an annual gathering sponsored by the Classical Learning Test (CLT) in (mask-free!) Annapolis, Maryland. For two days I mixed with the movers and shakers of the spreading movement for classical education among American K-12 schools and colleges. I heard talks from the likes of Robert George, Cornel West, Anika Prather, Spencer Klavan, Jessica Hooten Wilson, Jennifer Frey, and Elias Moo. It struck me how different this movement is from the classical education movement of the period I study, the Renaissance.

During the Renaissance the study of the classics always had an elitist edge. When Petrarch refounded classical education in the fourteenth century, his goal was to fight the tide of ignorance, violence, selfishness, political corruption, and religious indifference he saw rising all about him. The real problems of his time could not be solved by passing more laws or strengthening institutions. Laws were worthless if made by evil men; institutions could not accomplish their goals if the men (and some women) who ran them could not be trusted to do what was right. The character of Christendom’s elites  would have to change if institutions human and divine were to be restored.


The question I’m left with now is how long elites can remain elite when their “elite” educational system is turning the next generation into ignoramuses, people who have never been allowed to think for themselves, androids who know only how to repeat the approved slogans and adopt approved attitudes. A decade from now, won’t the children who have been brought up on great literature, encouraged to think for themselves, taught how to argue and speak with eloquence, urged to develop their full humanity, children who know history and poetry and philosophy—won’t they become the new elite, the “true nobility”?


Bold Me

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • 1685268092
  • Create New...