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Repairing The Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Modern Education

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As parents, it is easy for us to look back and see the shortcomings of our own education. Since many of us were taught in public schools, we often have a pretty good idea of what we don't want our children to learn. But what exactly should we give them instead? The authors of Repairing the Ruins, a group of experienced teachers and schools administrators, faced this same q As parents, it is easy for us to look back and see the shortcomings of our own education. Since many of us were taught in public schools, we often have a pretty good idea of what we don't want our children to learn. But what exactly should we give them instead? The authors of Repairing the Ruins, a group of experienced teachers and schools administrators, faced this same question when they first embarked on the journey of education. They found a tried and true answer in classical Christian education. Here they explain what makes classical Christian education different from modern methods and why it offers a distinctly Christian alternative. Building upon this foundation, the authors provide parents with the "Whys and Hows" of the Trivium, tips on planning curriculum, wisdom in designing education to serve the heart as well as the mind, and advice on starting up schools. For all who have ever wondered where to begin with their children's education, Repairing the Ruins comes alongside with words of comfort and direction.


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As parents, it is easy for us to look back and see the shortcomings of our own education. Since many of us were taught in public schools, we often have a pretty good idea of what we don't want our children to learn. But what exactly should we give them instead? The authors of Repairing the Ruins, a group of experienced teachers and schools administrators, faced this same q As parents, it is easy for us to look back and see the shortcomings of our own education. Since many of us were taught in public schools, we often have a pretty good idea of what we don't want our children to learn. But what exactly should we give them instead? The authors of Repairing the Ruins, a group of experienced teachers and schools administrators, faced this same question when they first embarked on the journey of education. They found a tried and true answer in classical Christian education. Here they explain what makes classical Christian education different from modern methods and why it offers a distinctly Christian alternative. Building upon this foundation, the authors provide parents with the "Whys and Hows" of the Trivium, tips on planning curriculum, wisdom in designing education to serve the heart as well as the mind, and advice on starting up schools. For all who have ever wondered where to begin with their children's education, Repairing the Ruins comes alongside with words of comfort and direction.

30 review for Repairing The Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Modern Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    This book was published in 2001 and some of the chapters haven’t aged as well as others. I remember being new to the idea of Classical Ed and reading portions of this in the early 2000s and finding it fascinating. Those portions are still solid, for the most part. I would imagine the last section with details on how to set up a school would still be quite helpful as well. Other sections have pretty outdated information or perspectives, particularly the comments on students who learn differently This book was published in 2001 and some of the chapters haven’t aged as well as others. I remember being new to the idea of Classical Ed and reading portions of this in the early 2000s and finding it fascinating. Those portions are still solid, for the most part. I would imagine the last section with details on how to set up a school would still be quite helpful as well. Other sections have pretty outdated information or perspectives, particularly the comments on students who learn differently or those with dyslexia—the idea in the book is that some kids are slow and some aren’t. Classical Ed isn’t for everyone. That part was cringe-worthy. As classical education has gained popularity, more research has been done in the past 20 years on what classical education truly was. We’ve been able to deeply evaluate the ancients and see how they were taught. Those ideas are what’s missing from this book. It takes more of an ages and stages model of classical education, which was great in the beginning, but we’ve learned that Classical Ed was so much more than that. I still think this book might be helpful for some parents or teachers, but I wondered if the admins and teachers still run their school the way it is described in Repairing the Ruins or if they’ve been able to move beyond the Sayers model into what classical education truly might have looked like (one can’t know precisely). I’d love to see an update to this, which would make it a better resource for parents and teachers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Sines

    Having grown up a pupil swelling with apathy towards the American Dream, the "why" behind my education was out of sights. My education was tailored towards subject mastery rather than handing me skills/tools for a life of learning. It was dull as I was not being prepared to live, I was being prepared to memorize. This book is a great call, philosophy, and plan forward towards a better education. In an age where we have abdicated education to a degenerating state, this book is a must-read for ALL Having grown up a pupil swelling with apathy towards the American Dream, the "why" behind my education was out of sights. My education was tailored towards subject mastery rather than handing me skills/tools for a life of learning. It was dull as I was not being prepared to live, I was being prepared to memorize. This book is a great call, philosophy, and plan forward towards a better education. In an age where we have abdicated education to a degenerating state, this book is a must-read for ALL parents. Know what education should accomplish in your children and why it matters.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philip Brown

    Really liked it, for the most part.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Murphy

    Some chapters are better than others, but some are truly exceptional!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adam Calvert

    Again another fine work of Douglas Wilson et al on classical, Christian education. This book does a tremendous job of incorporating various authors on various subjects concerning the challenges we are facing in modern secular education and the reality of what Scripture says about Christian education and its necessity. It also has an entire section on how one would go about getting involved in (and even starting) a classical Christian school. A foundational primer that the education is the ultima Again another fine work of Douglas Wilson et al on classical, Christian education. This book does a tremendous job of incorporating various authors on various subjects concerning the challenges we are facing in modern secular education and the reality of what Scripture says about Christian education and its necessity. It also has an entire section on how one would go about getting involved in (and even starting) a classical Christian school. A foundational primer that the education is the ultimate responsibility of the parents, not the state.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josiah Richardson

    The public educational system doesn't work -- but that shouldn't be the reason we abandon it. Pragmatism isn't our compass and rarely does it point north anyway. We have an obligation, not only for ourselves, to see that men and women are receiving a proper education. So what is a proper education? Well, that has a two-headed answer. The goal of education should be predicated by what we teach, certainly; but also *how* we teach. Proper education sees these not as two different aspects of educatio The public educational system doesn't work -- but that shouldn't be the reason we abandon it. Pragmatism isn't our compass and rarely does it point north anyway. We have an obligation, not only for ourselves, to see that men and women are receiving a proper education. So what is a proper education? Well, that has a two-headed answer. The goal of education should be predicated by what we teach, certainly; but also *how* we teach. Proper education sees these not as two different aspects of education but one aspect together. In other words, in a proper education you have both concurrently. If you examine the historical progress in the educational system you will notice a departure from many things, but most visibly a departure from teaching morality and teaching the Trivium. In order to learn, one must understand *why* we learn. What is the goal of learning? Why should we care about learning *rightly*? And the answers to these questions will push you down either a path of pragmatism (i.e. to make you smarter, to make you prepared for a certain career, to better yourself, etc) or a theological path (Because the purpose of man necessitates it, because we are called to be stewards of knowledge, because we are commanded to teach our children and others, etc.) Morality cannot be divorced from education. In the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric), you will find a complete process to learning that has been used and developed over several centuries. The requirements for Harvard and Yale for instance was that the potential student was able to read, write, and transpose between English, Latin, and Greek (as well as lived a moral and pure life). These requirements were based on the Trivium and not a standardized multiple choice test. Wilson and the other contributors breakdown these and other areas and show that a classical model is something to look into. I personally believe it may not be the absolute best we can do, but I also believe we will never achieve a "best method" either. One thing is for certain though: public education needs to be abandoned. It is a stack of old pancakes with each layer more moldier than the one above it. Stop smothering it with syrup and just throw it out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Father Nick

    This is a mediocre, slanderous, and benighted collection of essays that made no effort to conceal a naked anticatholic bias, and was poorly edited to boot. It was marginally helpful in coming to understand the theory and practice of running a school according to the classical model. The signal contribution of this volume is to serve as a reminder to the reader that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I don't know that Wilson has ever met a black-and-white distinction he didn't enjoy, and while that can be moderately aggravating at times, there's still a lot of really good content in this book. His essay on Literature was particularly good, as well as very enjoyable. Also, the book is a very fast read-- I suppose this may be because as a collection of essays it doesn't really delve as deep on any of the topics, but as a quick survey of classical education it's pretty good. I don't know that Wilson has ever met a black-and-white distinction he didn't enjoy, and while that can be moderately aggravating at times, there's still a lot of really good content in this book. His essay on Literature was particularly good, as well as very enjoyable. Also, the book is a very fast read-- I suppose this may be because as a collection of essays it doesn't really delve as deep on any of the topics, but as a quick survey of classical education it's pretty good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scott Guillory

    Every parent curious about Christian classical education should read this one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    This is not the first and certainly not the last lamentation of the demise of the so-called "classical" learning. The author and the contributors are sensible people, coming from a religious background and while I am personally not religious and I disagree with their insistence on adversarial (or 'antithetical' as they say it) education, I can see the point of the perceived general decline in primary and secondary learning competence in children. While the theological argument in this book is po This is not the first and certainly not the last lamentation of the demise of the so-called "classical" learning. The author and the contributors are sensible people, coming from a religious background and while I am personally not religious and I disagree with their insistence on adversarial (or 'antithetical' as they say it) education, I can see the point of the perceived general decline in primary and secondary learning competence in children. While the theological argument in this book is pointedly childish - i.e. 'I say there's God', the book raises some questions about the necessity of a wider cultural learning for the benefit of the individual and the underlying society, which stems as we all know from each new generation of individuals and the importance of such a learning for a truly free consturction of individual and group identity. Unfortunately, while justly making the stand against discipline 'in loco' parentis - i.e. not accepting undisciplined and problem children in programs oriented for the brighter lot, he does make the mistake of overreaching cultural influence- that is trying to inculcate 'high culture' into everyone, thus acting 'in loco parentis' in this domain, which is not possible. If the author would have study the legacy of the communist/socialist schools he so fears, he would have understood that pulling everyone to the level is not possible, and instead it provokes a strong revulsion for classical learning, which in itself was reserved for a select few (which wasn't a good situation either). Knowing how the higher education in America turned into a pay-as-you-go nightmare, I can hardly appreciate his optimism on the privatisation of the compulsory education and indeed think that instead of raising the general cultural level, it will create ever more disunity, disparity and illiteracy. All in all - a uniquely American book for a uniquely American set of problems

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I found this collection of essays on classical education a bit disappointing. I had recently finished "The Case for Classical and Christian Education" by Wilson, which I found a very helpful book both in making the case for classical education and understanding what the leaders of ACCS mean by it. I learned good information on education and the classical Christian ideal by listening to that book on CD and was excited to hear more, which is why I picked up Repairing the Ruins. Repairing the Ruins I found this collection of essays on classical education a bit disappointing. I had recently finished "The Case for Classical and Christian Education" by Wilson, which I found a very helpful book both in making the case for classical education and understanding what the leaders of ACCS mean by it. I learned good information on education and the classical Christian ideal by listening to that book on CD and was excited to hear more, which is why I picked up Repairing the Ruins. Repairing the Ruins had some very helpful sections, and probably would be even more interesting to someone interested in actually starting a classical school themselves. The reason I didn't find it as useful was that many of the essay seemed formulaic and not very well written. I think the issues they were trying to address were probably not suited to the short essay format. It seemed to only superficially touch on most of the topics being discussed. The book authors did understand that is all they would be doing and said so, but it did make it a bit less interesting and thought provoking. I found myself thinking more, "Yah, yah, I got that part. What else?" than I had hoped. I also thought some of the rhetoric in the Wilson pieces was a bit strong without the space for backing, explaining or following up his strong language. As I just finished it today, my initial response is that I'm mostly glad I read it just to hear what these men had to say, but don't feel like I got further down the road of understanding the classical Christian education idea by doing so.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marni

    I am a homeschooler, and this book is definitely directed to those running or wishing to start a Christian school. Nevertheless, I found it to be very helpful. Chapters on how to implement each stage of the trivium were valuable, but I especially appreciated the chapters on how to apply a Christian worldview to different subjects. I was not surprised that the chapter on mathematics referenced James Nickel's book "Mathematics: Is God Silent?", another favorite. This is not a focus of the book at I am a homeschooler, and this book is definitely directed to those running or wishing to start a Christian school. Nevertheless, I found it to be very helpful. Chapters on how to implement each stage of the trivium were valuable, but I especially appreciated the chapters on how to apply a Christian worldview to different subjects. I was not surprised that the chapter on mathematics referenced James Nickel's book "Mathematics: Is God Silent?", another favorite. This is not a focus of the book at all, but is important to me: I was not as pleased with Wilson's dismissal of those with learning disabilities. He does have some good insights, and I'm sure many labeled with learning disabilities are primarily the victims of bad teaching, but he discounts those who genuinely do have struggles, and implies that Classical Christian education is not for the slower learner. I could not disagree more, and am thankful for those like Cheryl Swope (author of "Simply Classical") who make the point that a classical education can benefit any child.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    This book was more focused on the specifics of education, particularly on how to run a private Christian school, than Wilson's other book he wrote solo on education, Repairing the Lost Tools of Learning. As a result, I enjoyed it less than Wilson's solo book. There are a lot of good practical ideas here, and it goes more in-depth on how to do individual topics, so I did enjoy the read; however, if I had to choose one of the two books, Wilson's other book was more effective for me. On its own meri This book was more focused on the specifics of education, particularly on how to run a private Christian school, than Wilson's other book he wrote solo on education, Repairing the Lost Tools of Learning. As a result, I enjoyed it less than Wilson's solo book. There are a lot of good practical ideas here, and it goes more in-depth on how to do individual topics, so I did enjoy the read; however, if I had to choose one of the two books, Wilson's other book was more effective for me. On its own merits, Repairing the Ruins is a good book looking at the problem of modern education, the foundation for Christian education, and practical ways to work it out in classical education, although it places more of a preference on private school than I would. However, for those looking at reading a view of education from Wilson and co., Restoring the Lost Tools of Learning seems like a better place to start. Rating: 3-3.5 Stars (Good).

  14. 5 out of 5

    JR Snow

    Very helpful book for teachers, parents, and even students. Not only educates on the meaning of "classical" education, but also the goals of education in general. This book is sort of like what Proverbs is to the canon to the Classical school administrator (obviously the analogy breaks down at inspiration!) It gives practical advice on many aspects of Classical Education, including the running of a classical school. Second reading, fall 2018. Still helpful. I read this one, Wilson's original book Very helpful book for teachers, parents, and even students. Not only educates on the meaning of "classical" education, but also the goals of education in general. This book is sort of like what Proverbs is to the canon to the Classical school administrator (obviously the analogy breaks down at inspiration!) It gives practical advice on many aspects of Classical Education, including the running of a classical school. Second reading, fall 2018. Still helpful. I read this one, Wilson's original book on classical education, and "The Case for Classical Education." "Repairing the Ruins" is the most helpful out of the three.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a great resource for Christian parents who are skeptical of the public education system's motives, goals, and methods. The collection of essayists articulate the advantages and Christian principles behind classical education and the critical role that parents play in educating their children. There is much wisdom in the book and it is obvious that Christians have been duped into uncritically embracing the public school system. This is a great resource for Christian parents who are skeptical of the public education system's motives, goals, and methods. The collection of essayists articulate the advantages and Christian principles behind classical education and the critical role that parents play in educating their children. There is much wisdom in the book and it is obvious that Christians have been duped into uncritically embracing the public school system.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Edited by Doug Wilson, these essays introduce the reader to the idea and benefits of Christian classical education. But note the order! It is Christian education for Westerners, aiming to train a new generation of Christians who know how to think and know the story they are part of. Loved it. Favourite part: the section defending a liberal education for Christians.

  17. 5 out of 5

    William Duff

    Another great book on Christian Classical education by Doug Wilson and friends. "All of Christ for all of life." "Christ or chaos, Christ or the abyss..." Each chapter of this book discusses a different school subject e.g. math, logic, history and demonstrates how all of these subjects are coherent in Christ and the Christian worldview and nowhere else. Another great book on Christian Classical education by Doug Wilson and friends. "All of Christ for all of life." "Christ or chaos, Christ or the abyss..." Each chapter of this book discusses a different school subject e.g. math, logic, history and demonstrates how all of these subjects are coherent in Christ and the Christian worldview and nowhere else.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christi

    This is an excellent book on classical education. A collection of essays by the brilliant folks at Logos, it covers many different topics from various perspectives. Someday I just hope to go to Logos myself!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I was convinced that Classical education was the way to go when I first discovered that such a thing existed. This book reinforced that conviction. Full of thought-provoking essays that support the case for Classical education.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Seth Mcdevitt

    This is an excellent aid to any parent who wishes to raise their child up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. I would commend this book to all faithful parents. Be careful though, prepare yourself for a biblical challenge to radical obedience.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean Higgins

    Reread in the fall of 2011. Absolutely necessary resource for those thinking about educating their own kids and considering starting a classical and Christian school.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abrahamus

    Valuable information on classical Christian education, both from a philosophical/theorertical and a practical, nuts-and-bolts standpoint.

  23. 5 out of 5

    James Nance

    Always remember to credit your sources properly.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Good foundational work ...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Ladwig

    Excellent book, this really convinced me to pursue the classical education model for my children. It also displayed to me just how ripped off I was by going to the government schools.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Berna

    Good foundation info on classical education, but heavily flawed in its theology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan Johnson

    Loved this book. Revolutionized the way I think about education.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    2020: Picked this one again to re-read some essays. Really good and solid stuff here. 2012: Great book. Super helpful!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    Wonderful! Much more in depth than 'Case'. Answers a lot of questions one may have regarding a Classical Christian School Wonderful! Much more in depth than 'Case'. Answers a lot of questions one may have regarding a Classical Christian School

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jim Becker

    This book was very good, especially now that I am teaching in a Christian, classical school. Very helpful.

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