As a society we are increasingly divided—from each other and from our past. However, because a classical, liberal education is deeply historical, it is well suited to help bridge that widening gulf and to be a source of cultural renewal. It accomplishes this through the formal study of history and by developing a historical habit of mind.
By observing the past in its context, the chief object of history as a discipline, we observe others who have preceded us. We learn about the past as different from the present and as the starting point for the changes that led to the world we inhabit.
By resurrecting Homer and the great tradition of humane letters, we recover the understanding that we are connected across time to those who preceded us by recreating for ourselves the experiences and insights great authors share.
By developing the skills of discourse through reading, seminar discussion, and writing, we rediscover speech as the mode of human existence, the sense of which was born in the ancient world with its emphasis on word (logos), dialogue, rhetoric, and poetry.
By building great schools dedicated to genuine freedom—intellectual, moral, and spiritual—we carry on the tradition established in the ancient academies.
Classical invokes the past, the source from which we receive our heritage. Its partner, liberal, captures who we are and who we long to be: men and women of genuine freedom. Nothing is more important to a genuine education than to remember our origins and our destiny.
Andrew J. Zwerneman is president and co-founder of Cana Academy and is the author of the forthcoming book, History: Forgotten and Remembered, to be released in September, 2020.