Leisure and Experience: Recovering the Schole in School

Erin Davis-Valdez June 3, 2009

Presented at:
SCL Conference 2009


Alfred Nock once noted that the result, if not the purpose, of a classical education is an experience mind. Such a mind is also, not incidentally, a disciplined one. Rigor and discipline are part of the process, but they are not the summum bonum. Rather, we wish our 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 makers in which leisure listening to the 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 sole with rudimentary Latin class 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.


Classical Education Education Learning


Erin Davis-Valdez

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