The most common arguments against classical education - and why they are wrong.
Let's refute the most common arguments against classic education and the classics.
Kids don’t understand the language and syntax because it’s outdated and no one talks like that anymore - The answer to this is not to dumb down kids but to raise standards and expectations. If kids were able to understand these books some generations ago with fewer resources than modern kids today, so can modern children given the right context and educational environment.
Kids don’t read anymore, they have too much screen time and too many distractions to even want to read - This is true and needs to be addressed, it’s not just kids, parents as well are reading fewer books than ever. For students, reading for pleasure is correlated to higher academic achievement in science, history, English, and even math. Parents have to develop a family culture of reading books instead of small bite sized pieces online.
Kids don’t want to read about situations/topics that are outdated and have no relevance to their lives. A bit self-centered, no? Why should kids be incentivized to only care about issues/topics that matter to them instead of cultivating some reverence and empathy for cultures/people that came before? There’s plenty of moral and ethical lessons to be learned from the classics that can be applied to modern times.
The western canon was written by “dead white guys”. The merits of a work of literature are in its plot, characters, vocabulary, syntax, etc. There’s great female writers that are included in the western cannon, like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Great literature should not be identitarian, otherwise writing under a false identify to gain praise or protection from mobs, will become the norm. Just recently, this happened in Spain.
Lastly, studying and reading the great classic books does not exclude reading contemporary books. There is room for both. However, denying the importance and relevance of the great classics, does create a generation that is largely uncultivated and does not grasp its position in the historical and cultural continuum of humanity.