“The Lost Tools Of Learning” and Defunding Public Schools

Over at Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s blog, (Fr. Z’s Blog), he makes the great suggestion that people should return to the basics of education and get away from the indoctrination factories that public education has become.

The chaos and violence in our summer streets this year are the vile fruits of an increasingly leftist, ideological, politicized public education system.  The idiots in the streets, embracing fantasies about Marxism imbibed in school room, are doing precisely what they have been trained to do.


COVID-1984 will create opportunities, along with wounds.

The great writer, translator of Dante, and Inkling, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay in the 1940’s about the devolution of education and what could save it. Her essay is called The Lost Tools of Learning.  I remember being electrified by this essay when I discovered it, I believe in the ’80’s, reprinted after many years in National Review by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Sayers recommended a return to a modified form of the medieval trivium and quadrivium, Latin being the glue for the whole vision.   The objective of her proposal was to break the mindless parroting of stuff, but rather to teach students how to learn, how to think, to shape their minds.

Today I read at the National Catholic Registerabout an initiative in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Marquette, comprising the upper peninsula of Michigan.

New Trend: Implementing a Classical Catholic Curriculum
Diocese of Marquette Catholic schools are the first in the nation to adopt such a focus; high school to follow.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, have made a bold move to embrace an educational curriculum of the past to pave the way for a vibrant future. The diocese is the first in the nation to fully move all of its schools to a classical Catholic curriculum.

“We moved our schools toward this model because it best aligns with our mission as Catholic educators,” Mark Salisbury, Diocese of Marquette superintendent of Catholic schools, told the Register. “We know this because it is the model of education the Catholic Church has embraced through its history. It is the best curriculum to have all of the subjects lead our students to Christ.”

The diocese’s eight Catholic schools, which educate 1,100 students, began to implement a classical curriculum —which emphasizes truth, goodness and beauty and the study of the liberal arts (grammar, logic, rhetoric; arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy; and Latin) and the great books. Overall, it focuses on helping students know how to learn and how to think. This classical curriculum was implemented during the 2014-15 school year, said Salisbury, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive, both in strengthening the uniquely Catholic educational experience for teachers, students and parents, but also in terms of maintaining enrollment.

“Our annual parent surveys consistently show that over 90% of our parents are either satisfied or very satisfied with our academic programs,” he said.


Schools that have adopted a classical format have increased massively in attendance.


A unique part of the classical approach is that students learn Latin. According to Holy Name third-grade teacher Debra Casey, learning Latin has piqued her students’ interest in the English language.

“Latin is their favorite class,” she said. “They just love it!”

In their Latin classes, the students are not just memorizing words; they are learning their meanings and their connection to their Catholic faith and to the English language.

Principal Miron agrees that Latin has inspired students to learn even more about the English language — and science too.

“One of the beautiful aspects of teaching Latin is when an older student makes the connection between the Latin learned previously and a new word — often a scientific or academically-challenging word,” she told the Register. “They are able to discern the meaning of the word based on the Latin they’d already learned. Suddenly, the Latin becomes relevant, and you see their eyes light up as they grasp the implication of this.”

Your humble correspondent notes that up to the introduction of John Dewey’s “practical” educational system Latin and often Green were regularly taught in both primary and secondary schools.  This served to cement the cultural connection to the historical roots of our civilization, and can do so again.

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