In this seminar, we will trace the history of classical education as it resided in the Western monastic tradition. At a time when many are considering “The Benedict Option,” it is worth studying Benedict (480–543 AD) and the tradition of monastic education that preserved and extended classical Christian education. In one of the great ironies of history, Benedict sees the corruption of his university education in Rome and simply prays for three years at Subiaco (near the ruins of Nero’s “party palace”) and then emerges to become the one who safeguards the best of Christian and Roman culture. Remarkably, it is a man who seeks God in prayer while Rome is crumbling who becomes the leader of a monastic movement that preserves learning and piety for centuries to come. Benedict starts 12 monasteries in his lifetime, each with a school for educating the monks. By 1300 AD, many thousands of monasteries permeate Europe. Through several cycles of growth, stagnancy, corruption, and renewal, we will see that without Benedictine education, we would lack many of the riches that we inherit as classical educators. In this seminar, we will note the pedagogical and liturgical practices that characterized monastic education—many of which may serve to inspire and renew our own classical schools today.
Christopher Perrin is the publisher with Classical Academic Press, and an author and speaker for the renewal of classical education. He serves as a consultant to classical schools, schools converting to the classical model, and classical homeschool co-ops. He is the director of the Alcuin Fellowship and former the vice-chair of the Society for Classical Learning. Christopher received his BA in History from the University of South Carolina and his MDiv and PhD in Apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was also a special student in literature at St. John’s College in Annapolis. He has taught at Messiah College and Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as the founding headmaster of a classical school in Harrisburg, PA, for 10 years. He is the author of the books An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents, The Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, Greek for Children, and co-author of the Latin for Children series published by Classical Academic Press.