Do we need a classical education for the 21st century?

Sunday 23 October, 12.00 - 13.00 , Conservatory Academy in One Day

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Listen to this session at the bottom of this page.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Michael Wilshaw recently claimed that vocational education in England is a ‘disaster’, but some critics go further and argue that the real disaster is that all education has been vocationalised. With education at all levels now dominated by skills-based education, those who feel that education should be valued for its own sake are taking an increasing interest in the idea of a ‘classical education’. Home schoolers and some leading teachers hope to revive the seven liberal arts - grammar, logic and rhetoric (the ‘trivium’) and arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy (the ‘quadrivium’) – as the basis for education today. A new liberal university on the medieval model, Benedictus, is being established and there is a thriving new ‘Modern Liberal Arts’ Programme at the University of Winchester. Meanwhile, campaign groups like Classics for All promote the teaching of Latin and Greek, and academic experts on ancient Greek philosophy even appear on news programmes telling us what the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would say about contemporary issues.

After a long period of decline, classical education appears to be experiencing a revival. So what do some of the major actors in this revival think? We have brought four of them together for a special round table, and we will start with two questions: ‘Is “classical education” what’s missing from education, or is it no more than nostalgia for previous “golden ages”?’ And ‘Are we beginning to see an educational renaissance or is arguing for a “classical education” a way of avoiding the necessity of rethinking education for the demands of the 21st century?’