Norms & Nobility: A Treatise on Education by David V. Hicks (1981)

nnTHIS is a good book. It’s also an incredibly difficult read. Reading Hicks is the Olympic version of reading. It’s hard. He’s got a huge vocabulary and uses it.

So it’s a hard read, but a good read. I think it helped me solidify half-developed thoughts I’d already had about education.

Context is important in learning; memorization strings of facts is not helpful, because they don’t mean anything. Despite the efforts and convictions of many nowadays, separating knowledge and learning from values and morals leads to terrible education outcomes. Education should help form character. Education should enable a learner to deal with the tough questions in life. The end of education shouldn’t just be knowing vacuous stuff—it should be becoming a good person and therefore doing good things. That’s the gist of this book, but it gets into the delightful nitty-gritty, challenging assumptions you probably didn’t know you had.

I liked this book so much I have handed it to Rocketman to read. He is actually applying to jobs right now, and I think he has a decent chance of landing a job as a professor at a liberal arts college where an understanding of these principles would be essential. We even suspect that if I hadn’t been reading this book and discussing it with him, he may not have written his application materials the same way, and maybe wouldn’t have scored the interview for our current favorite among his job prospects.

I read this book for Amy’s Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017 in the nonfiction category. Is it a classic? The verdict: Oh, heck yes, this sucker has an honored place on my shelf. It’s the best book on modern classical education I know of, even if it is densely written. And I can easily imagine it being read and discussing by classical education fanatics in 2081. So… yes. It’s a classic!

Jenna

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