One of the best books I have ever read on classical education is the just-released Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child from Memoria Press. Cheryl Swope’s book not only gives an unusually lucid explanation of what classical education is and how to teach it, whether in a school or at home—it reminds us of classical education’s most important quality: how human it is and how it connects with the humanness of its students, including those whose humanness is often overlooked.
Cheryl tells about how she applied classical education in homeschooling her twins, special-needs children afflicted with autism and a number of other heart-breaking mental problems. Whereas progressive education, with its reductionistic view of human beings, would have just tried to program the twins with some basic survival skills and stop there, the humane, personal, inspiring approach of classical Christian education caused them to blossom. To bloom. Not only was her daughter Michelle achieving academic levels that her doctors thought were impossible for her, she was awakening to the realm of the true, the good, and the beautiful. You have got to read Cheryl’s account of her courageous son and of her daughter, who emerges, despite her continuing difficulties, as a complex, accomplished, and compelling young woman.
Michelle, now 19, has published a book of her poetry. It will blow you away. By any standards, the poems are extraordinarily meaningful and touching, filled with vivid imagery and lovely language. To know Michelle’s background, though, is to appreciate her all the more and also to appreciate the potential of classical learning for shaping a young mind and a young heart.
But that’s not all. Her poetry is profoundly Christian. She writes about the Law and the Gospel, … about the Cross, about Jesus and what He did for her. She shows just how deep catechesis in God’s Word can go, even in someone whom we might not expect. I give you one of her poems, quoted with permission:
See on this cross what thorns did say.
See now a rose in fine array.
Love complete ere was shown,
ere did bloom was the rose:
The Lamb on the cross.
From Through Time’s Looking Glass: A Book of Poetry by Michelle Lynn Swope (Available through Amazon)
Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Provost of Patrick Henry College, Professor of Literature, and author of over 19 books on topics such as classical education, Christianity, and culture.
Originally published in The Classical Teacher Winter 2014 edition.