Friday, October 3, 2008

Book Review: Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

“An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education”

This book has a lot of interesting information, still applicable to schooling today even though it was written in 1991. The book discusses education in general, with a focus on what Christian Education should be, in the framework of the Classical Education model.

I really appreciated the depth of the discussion about what Christian Education should be. Much of the book was spent comparing a Christian Education to a Humanistic Education, exploring exactly why they are different. Basically, one must realize that a complete Christian Education is not accomplished by adding prayer and bible study to a Humanistic course of study. Christian Education is built on the framework of knowing that all study is connected to the Creator—they are not individual disconnected areas of study.

As much as I enjoyed and agreed with most of this book, I have to say that I remain unconvinced that a complete Christian Education is the only way to reform education in America simply because this is not the method employed by other countries whose educational systems far exceed that of the United States. It is probably true that countries whose students perform better academically do so in part because of societal expectations. Therefore, in a broader sense I suppose the argument could be applied that Christianity is (or was, or should be) America’s framework for such expectations. In that case the breakdown of the Christian faith in America would account for a degeneration of academic and moral expectations. I tend to think, however, that the problem is more likely to lie in the fact that we are a nation of immigrants tied together by the idea of freedom. Without any other unifying moral framework this ideal has evolved into a sense of entitlement which has had a detrimental affect on many different aspects of our country and government.

I don’t think that the answer to education, or any other government program, is to attempt to make it distinctively Christian. I do think, however, that it would benefit Christian families to put more thought into the issues that Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning raises. Overall, I have to say that it was an enjoyable, well written book. If you are in the mood to refine your educational philosophy, I suggest you pick up a copy and see where it takes you!

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