A few months ago, we moved out of Washington, D.C., to be closer to where we’ll be sending our children to school. That decision wasn’t just made because it’s our parish school or because many DC public schools have serious problems. Prior to getting married, my husband and I separately served on the school board that oversaw the change in our parish school’s curriculum to a Classical approach. It was a large undertaking but we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
From my experience, I know that the Classical movement is sizable and under-covered by major media. So I was completely delighted to read about a new Classical school in the area in a recent Washington Post. Written by Julia Duin, it begins with an anecdote that shows how Classical education works:
It’s 1 p.m. and time for Amy Clayton’s fifth grade to show off their memorization skills.
Decked out in blue long-sleeved shirts and dark pants for boys and bright yellow blouses and plaid jumpers for girls, the students begin with the words of Patrick Henry’s immortal “Give me liberty or give me death” speech first delivered on March 23, 1775, in Richmond. That recitation merges into verses from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride.” That morphs into a few phrases from the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and finally to fragments of speeches by Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
“Beautifully done,” Clayton says at the conclusion. “We just encapsulated 80 years of American history in our recitation.” She is engaged, dramatic, and students are nearly jumping out of their seats trying to answer her questions about the beginnings of the Civil War. To her right is a banner containing a quote from Aesop: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Near that hangs a crucifix.