On episode EIGHTEEN of Let the Bird Fly! we welcome Dr. Jason Merritt to discuss classical education. Dr. Merritt has been a classical educator for over a decade teaching mostly classical Greek, as well as serving as HeadMaster for four years. He currently teaches at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Merritt has also taught Greek at Texas Christian University, has done translation work in Swahili, Croatian, Japanese, and Haitian Creole, and is the author of Devils and Deviants: Religious Schism in 1 and 2 John.
In addition to Dr. Merritt, the guys are joined by two pastors that happened to be on campus for the Return to Wittenberg Conference that was recently held in Milwaukee. Pastor Johann Caauwe currently serves Trinity Lutheran Church in El Paso, TX and Pastor Nathanael Seelow serves Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Kearney, NE. Rev. Caauwe homeschools his children and has recently presented on the topic of Classical Education in the early Lutheran church. He has also offered Latin classes to children in El Paso as an extension of his homeschooling efforts.
Before arriving at the main topic, however, the guys waste their time (and yours, should you choose to listen) by discussing–in perhaps the most uninformed way possible–the positives and negatives of self-driving cars. The discussion comes to it’s logical (and merciful) conclusion when Oliva questions how confident Wade should be about where he might find himself in the event of a tragic airplane crash.
Moving on the main topic, Dr. Merritt offers a glimpse into his personal background as well as a brief description of his book Devils and Deviants: Religious Schism in 1 and 2 John. This leads into our conversation about classical education, where Dr. Merritt walks us through a discussion of how classical education differs from what Peter ham-handedly refers to as “modern” education. While acknowledging that there are many different ways classical education can–and is–understood, Dr. Merritt provides us with a sophisticated articulation of what he believes to be central to classical education in regards to its content, method, and telos (i.e., “end” or “objective”). Leave it to a Greek teacher to use Greek words in his answer, but it turns out to be perhaps the most essential part of Dr. Merritt’s view of the value of a classical education. Forming the student, he believes, NOT to be first and foremost getting them into a good school and getting them a good job, etc., etc. (although it may be a secondary effect). Rather, he believes that putting in front of students those things that participate in truth and goodness and beauty gives educators the opportunity to teach students to love those things that have truth and goodness and beauty. So, if you’re a longtime defender of classical education, or someone who’s never even really heard of it before, we think you’ll enjoy this episode. And if you’d like to contact Dr. Merritt, you can do so through the Covenant Classical School website.
More links than you can shake a stick at, so here are the main links discussed in the episode (and even a few that weren’t mentioned):
Books and Articles:
- Jason Merritt, Devils and Deviants: Religious Schism in 1 and 2 John
- Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning
- C.S. Lewis, On Reading Old Books
- This was originally the introduction to a new translation of St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation published mid-20th century, but usually anthologized under this title.
- Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans, Wisdom and Eloquence
- Flannery O’Connor, The Nature and Aim of Fiction, from her book Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
- I believe this is the essay that Dr. Merritt references near the end of the episode.
- Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind
- This isn’t mentioned in the episode, but as Dr. Merritt says: “This has been a perennial favorite, especially for classical home schoolers.”
Societies and Organizations:
- Society for Classical Learning
- Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education
- This isn’t mentioned in the episode, but some of our listeners might be interested.
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Thanks for listening!
Attributions for Music Used in this Episode:
- “The Last One” by Jahzzar is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.
- “Horses to Water” by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena
- “Gib laut” by Dirk Becker is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License.
- “Whistling Down the Road” by Silent Partner
- “Not Drunk” by The Joy Drops is licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International License.