What is the point of covering ground, if the students’ feet never touch it, if they never learn through independent exercise to walk by themselves, with head erect and unafraid of all intellecutal opposition and difficulty…
I would feel happier about the graduates of Catholic colleges if they were really to understand a few truths well… rather than be able to recite… philosophical answers to problems they did not really understand or take seriously.
Reforming Education, chapter 13, The Order of Learning
Multum, non multa is a core principle of classical education: Much, not many. When Vittorino DeFeltre taught his charges in early Renaissance Florence, they started reading Homer around the time they turned 9, if my memory serves (maybe it was 6). In the original. Why?
Because he wanted them to learn to think deeply, which requires careful, precise, close readings of difficult works. No classical educator would believe that we take education seriously when a child can graduate high school without having ever read a text closely. They would laugh at our pre-occupation with “getting through the materials,” they would wonder at our obsession with learning trivia, they would cry when they saw that we don’t believe in truth or beauty. And I think they would scold us when they saw how we treated children, moving them from class to class, bell to bell, data to data, all so they can create the illusion of production so we can create the illusion of assessment.
I suppose I’m writing a bit harshly, but we need to think about these things. What we are doing to our children is inconsiderate.