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“Simply Classical”: A Brief Review

“Some parents and educators have the misconception that classical education is only for ‘smart kids.’”

These are the opening words from Cheryl Swope’s recently published book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, in which she tells the story of classically teaching her daughter, Michelle who was diagnosed with both autism and schizophrenia, among other disabilities, early in life.

Part memoir, part manual, Swope’s book provides heartwarming and convincing help for parents of special needs children and other educational difficulties. In the preface of her work, Swope confronts the idea that classical education is somehow for the “elite” or the advanced student only, asking, “If classical education could give Helen Keller the tools to overcome great obstacles and embrace the ‘sweeps of the heavens’ so many years ago, why do even less-severely challenged special-needs children fail to receive such a bountiful classical education today?”

After telling her family’s story – from the adoption of Michelle and her twin brother Michael, to the struggles of providing a classical education for them – Swope dives in to a helpful survey of the foundations of Christian classical education, particularly within the context of special needs children.

Swope’s inspiring book offers tremendous encouragement to struggling parents, specific adjustments that can be made for special needs children, and true stories of those who have been where so many parents now are. Additionally, the book’s appendices are quite helpful – lists of additional resources, references, suggested readings, and more.

This book fills a great void in the world of Christian classical education and would be an important read, not only to the parents of special needs children, but to headmasters, board members, and day school teachers as well.

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