A lively group of classical educators, some accompanied by their children, gathered in the Bowie Arts Center on the Erskine College campus Friday, Feb. 28, to hear from two leaders of the classical education movement in the United States.
Dr. Christopher Perrin, cofounder of Classical Academic Press and director at Alcuin Fellowship with the Institute for Classical Schools, addressed attendees in the morning. In a presentation entitled “Lessons Learned: 40 Years of Seeking to Renew Classical Education in the United States,” he described efforts to renew classical education in recent decades as “building a rope bridge back to the classical tradition.”
Advising parents to “read to children from infancy” and “fill your house with good books,” he said, “The slightest knowledge of great books is better than the greatest knowledge of slight books.”
Andrew Kern, founder and president of the CiRCE Institute, which engages in research, consultation, and development of integrated resources for classical education, spoke in the afternoon. In “Rhetoric: The Spine of the Classical School,” he focused on the art of rhetoric, which he called “the essential art of the classical curriculum.”
An art “makes something,” he said, and a liberal art “makes a free people.” Describing rhetoric as “a condition of freedom,” he said it fosters deliberation, enabling a community to make decisions peacefully. “The purpose of rhetoric is life, blessing, and harmony, in communities and in minds.”
Erskine President Dr. Robert Gustafson welcomed the educators in the morning and offered some remarks during lunch in the Founders Room of Moffatt Dining Hall.
Emphasizing the role of scripture and theology as “correctives to fallen reason,” the president told the educators, “We did not start a college first—first came the seminary.” He noted that at Erskine, “We use seminary professors as resources as we do academic work in the college.”
Conference participants asked questions of both Perrin and Kern following the afternoon address.
Students in grades eight through twelve attended sessions planned and conducted by Erskine College professors and staff members and ate lunch in Moffatt Dining Hall.