Does the subject of literature seem like a mystery? Are you a loss about how to understand it yourself, much less teach it to your kids? This inspiring lecture demonstrates that everything you need to know about understanding and teaching literature is present in your second grader’s bedtime story. Adam reads a classics children’s story …
Adam Andrews received his B.A. in Political Economy and Christian Studies from Hillsdale College in 1991. He earned his M.A. in History from the University of Washington in 1994, and is currently a candidate for the Ph.D. in History. He is writing his doctoral dissertation on the history of American higher education. Adam is a Henry Salvatori Fellow of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and was a founding board member of Westover Academy, a Classical Christian school in Colville, Washington. He is the assistant director of the American Council for Accredited Certification, a non-profit professional certifying body.
Missy Andrews received her B.A. in English Literature and Christian Studies from Hillsdale College in 1991. She and Adam have six children, ages nine to eighteen. Now in her fourteenth year of homeschooling, Missy’s class has grown to include all six kids, as well as several students from neighboring families who participate in a local home school cooperative. The family attends Christ Reformed Church in Colville, where Adam does most of the preaching.
Both Adam and Missy have long felt a calling to serve the homeschooling community, and have constantly been on the lookout for ways to make high-quality education accessible to committed parents and teachers. Inveterate bookworms, they have spent the past twelve years making booklists of great literature for students of all ages, and trying to find a literature curriculum that is both accessible and substantial. Teaching the Classics is the result of their conviction that the best curriculum is one that involves both teacher and student in a discussion of great ideas.
Adam and Missy founded the Center for Literary Education in 2003 to help parents and teachers provide high-quality instruction in the important disciplines of the mind.
Many of these disciplines have been lacking in American education for decades, and a return to greatness in the next generation requires that we reclaim them. The Center for Literary Education exists to help parents and teachers give their students facility with ideas, making it possible for them to rise to positions of influence and authority in their society.
We believe that influence and leadership opportunities will eventually go to those who know how to handle ideas, and that education, if is to be rightly so called, must deal with ideas first and foremost.
Since the beginning of human civilization, men of influence—leaders—have always concerned themselves with ideas; they have been familiar with the eternal questions, familiar with the usual answers, conversant with the long-running debates. The record of their intellectual journey remains for us to contemplate, written down in the literature of the western world. The ability to read and understand this literature is a necessary and crucial part of a sound education.
In the American literature of last 150 years, we find one of the most chilling portraits of the crisis of modernity ever recorded. Some of the greatest writers of this period, from Stephen Crane and Jack London to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, provide in their works a window into the plight of the modern soul. Having denied the relevance, authority, and very existence of God, many such modern authors floundered in their search for someone to replace Him. Their works thus powerfully demonstrate the consequence of such a denial: the destruction of certainty in all its forms.
To a great extent, we 21st century Americans live in a world bequeathed to us by the thinkers of our recent past: a world devoid of certainty. We must look to a new generation of leaders to help us restore the philosophical and spiritual foundations of our culture. Leaders of this new generation will depend upon a sound literary education: the ability to interact with the arguments of history’s most thoughtful men.
The Center for Literary Education strives to help produce such leaders by equipping parents and teachers to understand, analyze, and interpret great literature, so that they can pass these critical skills on to their students. To this end, it provides seminars and curriculum materials designed to make the basic techniques of literary analysis clear and accessible to teachers and students alike.