Sunday, February 09, 2014

Who wants a Classical Liberal Education?

I did, but never got it. So I've been getting one for myself, in bits and pieces, over the years. Here is one of my latest discoveries:

Classical Rhetoric 101: An Introduction
As many of you know, I read a lot of biographies on the lives of great men from history. The part of a man’s life I enjoy learning about the most is their education. What books did they read as young men that influenced them later on in life? Where did they travel? What classes did they take while at university? I’ll take notes on these things and try to incorporate their favorite books into my reading list or pick-up an audio course at the library that correlates to a subject they studied.

One thing I’ve noticed about my manly heroes is they all took courses in rhetoric at some point during their education. Intrigued by this commonality, I decided to look into why this was so. The answer was simple: rhetoric was an essential part of a liberal education from the days of Aristotle all the way up to the early 20th century. A well-educated man was expected to write and speak effectively and persuasively and students devoted several years to studying how to do so.

But in the early part of the 20th century, a shift in education occurred. Degrees which prepared students for specific careers replaced a classical, liberal arts education. Today’s college students get just a semester of rhetoric training in their Freshman English Composition classes, and these courses often barely skim the subject.

Which is quite unfortunate.

Our economy and society in the West in general are becoming increasingly knowledge and information based; the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively is more essential to success than ever before. Yet we’re spending less and less time teaching our young people the very subject that will help them navigate this new world.

If you’re like many men today, you didn’t spend much time learning about the art of rhetoric growing up. So today we’re beginning a series called Classical Rhetoric 101. Designed to offer the essential basics on the subject, the series will help you bone up on this manly art. We will begin by laying out an argument for why you should be interested in studying rhetoric in the first place. [...]
It goes on to talk about what rhetoric actually is, and the ways you can benefit from studying it. I especially liked "Protects you from intellectual despotism".

This just part of a series, there are links at the bottom of the article to the other parts of the series. Goody! Lots to look forward to.


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