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The Art of the Commonplace in the Classroom


James Daniels


The goals of classical/liberal arts education are tied to the cultivation of “humanness”.  With those aspirations in mind, the classroom must be conducive to “humanizing” students.  Ideas such as freedom, justice, truth, goodness, etc., must be embodied and enculturated in the souls of the students for them to take on the habits of wisdom and virtue.  While educational theories today seemed to be focused on the novel and innovative, classical education emphasized starting with appreciating the beauty of the everyday and ordinary.  In the past, discussions around “commonplaces” were key to a teacher’s communication to and guidance of pupils toward these ideals.  What is the concept behind “commonplaces” and how can they be incorporated into our teaching practices in classical education?