My next several posts are largely influenced by reading Ben Sasse’s, The Vanishing American Adult, Our Coming of Age Crisis and How to Rebuild A Culture of Self-Reliance. In my opinion, the most worthwhile chapter is, Build A Bookshelf.
I agree with Senator Sasse that becoming literate is an essential step in rebuilding our culture. Reading requires a degree of attention, engagement and active questioning of which most of our students today have a deficit.
Having recently retired to Keswick less than three miles from Shadwell, Virginia, (where Thomas Jefferson was born) it is fitting I begin with the Sage of Monticello, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the father of the University of Virginia and among the most educated of the Founding Fathers.
Thomas Jefferson began his education with French, Latin and Greek when he was 9 and entered William & Mary when he was 16. He was a voracious reader, and 6,400 volumes from his personal library served as the starting collection of the rebuilt library of Congress, which the British burned in the War of 1812.
Jefferson took a significant role in the education of his nephew, Peter Carr, who at the time was about the age of today’s high school sophomore. Jefferson was building a program for Peter that looks like the reading list of a graduate student in the classics. Jefferson famously wrote to his once rival and longtime friend John Adams, “I cannot live without books.”
The next several articles are a defense of liberal art schools like Grove City, Hillsdale, Christendom and other colleges that are holding the line in the curriculum wars by continuing to teach the great books of Western Civilization.
By the way, these three colleges are fighting the good fight and achieving their mission* without taking a dollar in federal assistance.
* Grove City College equips students to pursue their unique callings through an academically excellent and Christ-centered learning and living experience distinguished by a commitment to affordability and its promotion of the Christian worldview, the foundations of free society, and the love of neighbor.