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Education, education, education

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22.6

From the Latin, ex-ducere (to lead out), education is about drawing the God-given greatness out of a person. So why does society produce so many delinquents? One reason might be our abandonment of classical education in favour of a smorgasbord of supposedly more relevant subjects. On the face of it, this makes perfect sense of the need to prepare young people to take their place in the "real world". But at what cost?

Teaching the Classics introduced successive generations to the genius of the ancient Greek mind: all the forms of literary expression and the philosophy behind them, which still influence our conception of virtue, meaning and purpose. Not only ideas but the most luminous illustrations and examples of every genre! When added to the theological insights of our Israelite ancestors and the teachings of Jesus, that not a diet to set any enquiring mind - young or old - up for life?

Instead, 70 or so years on from the abandonment of classical education, we are drifting ever further from our moral, spiritual and intellectual roots. Service, courage and faithfulness are dismissed as old-fashioned virtues, elbowed aside by more utilitarian alternatives such as ambition, indulgence and nonchalance - which are thinly-veiled synonyms for selfishness and greed. The values we cherished in our late Queen seemed quaint to us but would not have been unfamiliar to the generation in which she was raised.

That Elizabeth II's death confines that era into history is only true if we ignore her legacy. On the other hand, if we are serious in our appreciation of hers as "the greatest generation", ought we not to ponder that generation's legacy, including its appreciation of classical education? Could our increasingly effete society rise to the self-abnegating heroics of our predecessors? Or maybe it's time for a reset...



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