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Guide and Warning From America’s Classical Education Past: The Yale Report of 1828

In the early 19th century, Yale College stood as the last, great bastion of Classical education in the United States. Buffeted by demands for “useful learning” and scathing critiques of “dead languages,” the Yale faculty produced an eloquent apology for Classical education, the famed Yale Report of 1828. This document provided an aegis for the antebellum, American, Classical education project, defending it against the attacks of utilitarian, modernist educational reforms up through the Civil War. In focusing on the Yale Report’s stirring defense of Greek and Latin’s pedagogical value, however, scholars and educators have overlooked the role of a discipline central to both the report itself and the tradition of Classical education it defended – mathematics. As we rebuild the Classical education tradition, putting the Yale Report of 1828 in its historic context and attending to its arguments about mathematical education offers today’s Classical schools both a guide and a warning.