Alfred Nock once noted that the result, if not the purpose, of a classical education is an experienced mind. Such a mind is also, not incidentally, a discaplined one. Rigor and discipline are part of the process, but they are not the summum bonum. Rather, we wish our students to acquire the faculty of discernment. As we are all too poignantly aware, experience, even condensed experience, requires time. The Greeks understood this, and that is why their word for leisure, schole, came also to be applied to the more worthy manners in which leisure can be employed, including to groups of students who spent their leisure listening to teachers. Currently, within the classical school community and beyond, there is considerable confusion as to the definition and characteristics of a classical education. I will postulate that the precondition of true learning is leisure and that this can be understood to mean limited and focused effort on sequential. (Not compartmentalized) study. As the Greek and Roman classical texts provide us both a continuous record of our antecedent culture and the advantage of having being written in demanding languages, we err in identifying classical education solely with rudimentary Latin classes or humanities surveys. The anecdotal evidence for the lingering blessing of a traditional classical education will be illustrated from a selection of classical texts and the testimony of the luminaries who have enjoyed such an education.
Erin Davis-Valdez is currently an Upper School teacher and the chair of the Foreign Languages dept. at Hill Country Christian School of Austin. She has extensive experience in developing Latin curricula and other classical courses both at HCCSA and at Grace Academy in Georgetown. Her master of arts in Classics degree is from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She also holds a BA in classical studies from Hillsdale College.