The resurgence of classical education over the last decade has been heartening in many respects, but some aspects of it are a bit confusing. No one holds the copyright on the word classical, and given the nature of the word, there has been something of a scramble in the various manifestations of classical education. This is not surprising, especially in a time when classical can refer to a ’57 Chevy, an original cola formula, the early Beach Boys, or a classic rock radio station.

Within the field of education, the word classical has a number of legitimate applications and a few spurious ones. There is the democratic classicism promoted by Mortimer Adler. There is the elite classicism of the well-established wealthy prep schools. We also see the classical approach advocated by David Hicks, which has been called “moral classicism.” And then there is the classicism argued for in these pages and practiced in the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) schools. Among these contenders for the term, the one thing necessary is care in definition. These various schools of thought should not fight for the glory of sole possession, but rather argue in such a way that what everyone means is clear. Put another way, every form of classicism should be able to agree on the importance of early definition of terms in any discussion or debate.

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