Interview with Author James K.A. Smith on Classical Education

Many readers of this blog may recall my review of the book Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith who is also an associate professor of philosophy at Calvin College.  I like the book immensely, and think that Smith has articulated better than anyone else in modern times how humans are shaped and–if you will–what humans are for.   According to Smith, humans beings cannot help imagining an ideal of human flourishing and in fact, imagining ideals is a large part of what it means to be human.  Smith contends that we are all seeking some version of the good life, we all desire a kingdom.  What is more, we are all being shaped and formed in various ways to love and desire one sort of kingdom or another.

Now all this has profound implication for education, for whatever else education is, it is a sustained attempt to shape and form a human being.  Even when educators have no idea what ideal or form they hold forth–they are shaping and forming nonetheless, for education occurs directly and indirectly, for better or for worse.

Several leaders in the renewal of classical Christian education noted this book when it was published in 2009, and immediately saw its relevance to the renewal.  Among those leaders was Bob Ingram, headmaster at the Geneva School of Orlando.  After reading the book on a plane flight, Ingram decided he had to have Smith come visit his school and address his faculty.  When I heard that Smith was coming to Geneva, my colleagues and I at Classical Academic Press offered to fly down to Orlando and record Smith.  We did that in October (2010) and can now post the results of that fruitful interview here on this blog.  While we recorded him on video and audio, the audio clips are listed below–we will release the video clips later this spring. Many thanks to Bob Ingram of the Geneva School and to Geneva  educators Ravi Jain, Kevin Clark and Grant Brodrecht who with Bob conducted the interview with Jamie Smith.

The entire 45 minute interview can be heard by clicking on the link entitled “Jamie Smith Interview on Classical Education.”  Alternatively, you can listen to any individual segment from the interview by clicking on the other links listed below.  These individual clips average about 5 minutes in length.  Enjoy.

James KA Smith Interview on Classical Education (entire interview-45 min)

James KA Smith Pedagogy Assumes an Anthropology

James KA Smith How Humans are Shaped

James KA Smith The Problem with Worldview Education

James KA Smith Secular Liturgies

James KA Smith Countering Secular Liturgies

James KA Smith How Christian Schools Are Secular

James KA Smith The Church and Christian Education

James KA Smith Pastors and Classical Christian Education

James KA Smith What Secular Education Lacks

James KA Smith Humans as Thinkers Believers and Lovers

James KA Smith Postmodernism and Classical Christian Ed

James KA Smith Neuroscience and Character Formation

James KA Smith Education, Culture and The Arts

James KA Smith Advice for School Administrators

Ken Myers on Classical Education: Interviewing the Interviewer

This November (2010), I had a chance to spend about two hours interviewing Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio.  Ken is the author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes and the host of the Mars Hill Audio Journal.  The academically-inclined admire and envy Ken, because he gets paid to read books and interview authors.  He is certainly one the most well-read cultural critics in the country, and always offers insightful commentary on the large issues facing the church and the nation—issues like the function and impact of media and technology on church and society, or the significance and role of art, literature and music in human society and worship, to name a few.  Every two months Ken releases a 90-minute CD (or mp3 file) that features Ken’s interviews (conversations really) with about six contemporary authors.  To date, Mars Hill Audio has released 104 such CDs.

Ken is also a student of education, and while insisting he is not an educational theorist, his wide reading and ongoing reflection have made him an advocate of classical Christian education.  Over the last several years, he has spoken at several conferences for classical Christian educators and even visited some classical schools. My interview with Ken was fascinating.  He was able to connect the renewal of classical Christian education to a number of other cultural trends from the shaping of a human soul to embodied learning to the disorder of modern education.  I have broken down the interview into several segments by topic, which average about 10 minutes in length.  Classical educators and leaders will particularly enjoy his comments on the forming of the soul, embodied learning and community.  Click on any of the links below to listen to various sections of the interview.

Ken Myers Cultural Assimilation

Ken Myers Engaging Creation

Ken Myers Forming the Soul

Ken Myers Embodied Learning

Ken Myers Community

Ken Myers Human Flourishing

Ken Myers Books for Educators

Ken Myers Seeing a Classical School

Ken Myers Concerns for CC Leaders

Ken Myers A Disordered Education

Ken Myers Are the Lib Arts Useless

Ken Myers History of Mars Hill Audio

Ken Myers His Education

Classical Education As A Marathon Race: An Interview With Mark Guthrie, Head of School at Caldwell Academy

Mark Guthrie has been Head of School at Caldwell Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina for seven years.  Caldwell Academy has grown to 800 students under his leadership.  As Mark relates in this interview, acquiring and providing a great education is no quick process–it is more like a marathon than a sprint. Mark knows this figuratively and personally–he trained for and ran his first and last marathon in the year 2000.  He discovered that running a marathon is not an individual endeavor after all–he would not have finished as he did without some surprising help along the way.  In this interview, Mark tells the story of this marathon which not only shaped him, but shaped his vision for classical education at Caldwell Academy.  You can’t miss Mark’s passion for education and his love for students–administrators and teachers will be inspired by Mark’s story and vision.  Simply click the link below to listen to the interview.

Mark Guthrie Interview

Interview With Ashton Murphy, Named as a Top-Performing Latin Student by the National Junior Classical League

Ashton Murphy has been studying Latin since the fourth grade at Grace Academy in Georgetown, Texas.  After seven years of Latin studies, she was named as an overall top-performing Latin student at the national convention of the National Junior Classical League this August.  In this interview, Ashton describes her love of Latin, the benefits and fun it has brought here and even recites a portion of a speech by Cicero (in Latin) that she recited in recent Latin oratory competitions.  Interestingly, she cites observing the enthusiasm for Latin in older students as a primary cause of her early love of Latin.  Now as a rising junior, she is sure to inspire younger Latin students, parents and teachers.  If you have a Latin student or Latin class, be sure to have them listen to Ashton’s Latin adventure.  Ashton says she might be headed for a career in journalism or law…but also loves art.  I imagine she will be able to do several things well… Karen Moore, Ashton’s Latin teacher, also joins this interview.

Ashton Murphy2 8-10

Peter Baur on How to Grow and Develop a Classical School

How to Advance a Classical School:  An Interview with School Development Expert Peter Baur. Peter Baur has spent his professional career helping schools grow and develop and has spent nearly 10 years helping advance Westminster Academy of Memphis, TN.  Peter talks of how crucial it is to create a clear mission then clearly communicate it through every staff person, every event, every opportunity.  New classical schools will benefit greatly from Peter’s experience and wisdom.

Peter Baur Interview

Latin Teacher Karen Moore on the Great Benefits of Latin

Recently we interviewed Karen Moore, veteran Latin teacher and author from Grace Classical Academy of Georgetown, Texas.  In this interview, Karen cogently describes the benefits of studying Latin and offers a variety of insights and advice to new Latin teachers and to those curious about the value of studying Latin. Karen is a unique blend of Texas and Rome–and is articulate as she is passionate. Click any of the links below to hear veteran Latin teacher Karen Moore share a variety of insights, recommendations and advice relative to the teaching of Latin.

Karen’s Bio and Introduction

Reading Latin

Latin Pedagogy Bike Riding

Why Latin

More Benefits to Latin

Growing an English Vocabulary

Improved Scores

Mental Training

Kid’s Favorite Subject

Teaching Tips

National Latin Exam

Advice to New Latin Teachers