Principles 16-23 for educating free people

16. An education for freedom is practical: it promotes the skills required to stay free: money, time, knowledge, space, language, and people management.

17. An education for freedom is sensible: it gradually releases the prisoner from his bonds as the prisoner/student is able to manage the release

18. An education for freedom teaches the soul to use persuasion over force, both with others and within oneself

19. A free teacher seeks knowledge over opinion and argues in such a way as to set the pattern for the student to do so as well

20. An education for freedom places nature over application (which exalts application to its place instead of reducing it to the king of shreds and patches)

21 A student who will be free learns to place the heavenly and permanent over the worldly and changing

22. An education for freedom places contemplation over production

23. A student who will be free learns to imitate the excellent and praiseworthy

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3 Responses

  1. I think of the music like the grammar stage. I use it to get the words themselves in their heads. But the words themselves have no meaning.

    The next part, the logic stage, is where I teach them what the words mean. What is “Arete”? Who were the Spartans? Who were the Athenians?

    The third stage is the rhetoric stage. They take what they have learned and compare/contrast them. Which is better, Sparta or Athens? Why?

    Really, the final stage, the real rhetoric stage, would be to use a comparison of Sparta and Athens to make an argument about what the State should be, it’s function and methods. But I have a limited amount of time and it is just middle school after all. 🙂

    That said, I lack both patience and humility. I want to do too much (pride) and become frustrated when it doesn’t work (impatience).

  2. Christopher,

    Good to hear from you! Too many things to respond to in one post, so let me address your “how shoud I do it?” question.

    With patience and humility. You can’t do very much of it right now, so don’t try to do it all. Do one thing well, till you feel you have that down and under control. Then go on to a second thing.

    On using music for memory, be careful. It is very useful, but it’s a crutch. As soon as the kids can remember things with the music, start pulling the music away. Otherwise they remain dependent on the music and it becomes an obstacle to thinking.

  3. I’ve been reading this with some interest. I’m back in public schools and chafing a bit. On the negative side, Social Studies is not important, practically relegated to an encore class. All effort is put into Language Arts and Math. I’m not even allowed to give my own, comprehensive test at the end of the year.

    On the positive side, Social Studies is not important, practically relegated to an encore class. This means I can teach however I want. We cover Africa, Asia and Australia. Naturally, this is a ridiculous amount of information, but I’m coming to grips on ways to teach it which will make sense.

    The problem is that, even in private, classical schools, it’s so easy to slip back into a textbook, multiple-choice assessment mindset. This is doubly-true in public school. I’m working on a way to incorporate what I learned from my brief foray into sane education, but it’s hard. What I want to do is use songs to teach the main vocab terms they would be expected to know, and use stories for the rest.

    To that end, I’ve started writing history songs. You can see some of them here ( The best example so far is my one for Greece which, to myself, I call “What the Hellenistic” and with them I call “It’s All Greek to Me”. Here’s how it sounds ( and here are the lyrics with notes ( I think you’d like the one I did on “The Epic of Gilgamesh”.

    Anyway, it’s hard. What do you do when the kids aren’t on board with what you’re trying to do, when you desperately want to go back to the textbook for some much needed scholeisure? I have the freedom to teach how I want although not really the planning to put it together or the time to go in depth anywhere. So, how should I do it?

    One thing I’ve learned so far is that I think Classical schools should rethink their Western focus. I’ve learned a lot of important stuff from Asia which I think we should know and would greatly benefit us as a culture. For instance:


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