Using a Thomistic approach, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College presents arguments that Common Core is contrary to classical education in an article at Crisis Magazine.
Sean Fitzpatrick replies to five possible objections to his claim. He argues that while Common Core is concerned with “what is learned, guided by measurable standards,” classical education is concerned with the “art of learning, guided by standards that cannot be measured.”
The aim of classical education is to form the whole person according to timeless, intrinsic values, rather than train a whole people to conform to a contemporary set of uniform standards. Thus, classical education responds to the universal truths of man rather than to the specific particulars of the multitude.
The Common Core system focuses on innovation and new methodologies. A surer strategy would be a restoration of those traditional approaches that are the foundation of Western Civilization. Classical education centers on these works and ideas, and holds that the process of learning is an experience to be had, not a problem to be solved.
Classical education ascends to excellence in cultivating the virtues, leading towards self-knowledge and a knowledge of reality that comprehends the proper order of all things. To know the whole truth of things and to think well for the sake of living well is the excellence classical education strives for: to gain self-rule and the habit of virtue. Common Core education, on the contrary, considers man’s excellence to consist of means: to work rigorously for the sake of living well—to gain self-sufficiency and the marks of worldly success. The current concept of worldly success is for the sake of economic excellence, while classical education’s end is for the sake of human excellence.
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