The Great Tradition - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Great Tradition

Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being

Edited by Richard M. Gamble

$20.00 $12.00

From Plato and Aristotle to C. S. Lewis, classic readings on the meaning and value of a true education 

“Traces the thread of education as it is woven into our cultural fabric, spanning more than 2,000 years, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers. . . . A rich resource for families, teachers, and schools.”
—Randall Murphree, American Family Association

“Provides a treasury of insights into Western education that no school leadership can afford to ignore.”
—Andrew Kern, CiRCE Institute


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Are you frustrated with education today—your own, your child’s, or your students’? Do you sense that true reform requires more than innovative classroom technology, standardized tests, or skills training?

Then this book is for you. It presents an older tradition—the Great Tradition—of education in the West that is waiting to be heard.

Since antiquity, the Great Tradition has defined education first and foremost as the hard work of rightly ordering the human soul, helping it to love what it ought to love, and helping it to know itself and its maker. In the classical and Christian tradition, the formation of the soul in wisdom, virtue, and eloquence took precedence over all else, including instrumental training aimed at the inculcation of “useful” knowledge.

Edited by historian Richard Gamble, this acclaimed anthology reconstructs a centuries-long conversation about the goals, conditions, and ultimate value of true education. Spanning more than two millennia, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers, it includes substantial excerpts from more than sixty seminal writings on education. Represented here are the wisdom and insight of such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Basil, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, Edmund Burke, John Henry Newman, Thomas Arnold, Albert Jay Nock, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Eric Voegelin.

In an unbroken chain of giving and receiving, the Great Tradition embraces the accumulated wisdom of the past and reminds us of what education really is: an initiation into a body of truth. This unique collection is designed to help parents, students, and teachers reconnect with this noble legacy, to articulate a coherent defense of the liberal arts tradition, and to do battle with the modern utilitarians and vocationalists who dominate educational theory and practice.

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“Today we are witnessing a revolution in education manifested by growing legions of homeschooling families and new classical schools. Richard M. Gamble has done an invaluable service in assembling this rich anthology of the educational wisdom that was foolishly left behind and forgotten—wisdom that we can no longer do without. This is a book for every home library and for teachers and students alike.”

Vigen Guroian, author of Tending the Heart of Virtue and Rallying the Really Human Things

The Great Tradition provides a treasury of insights into Western education that no school leadership can afford to ignore. Something will speak to everybody with a mildly curious mind: headmasters who want help with the curriculum (Quintilian), parents who want to raise wise and virtuous children (Chrysostom), lovers of the classics (Philip Melanchthon), students setting life goals (Basil the Great), teachers who want help focusing their efforts (Aristotle), the historically curious (from Plato to C. S. Lewis), and board members setting priorities (Paul Elmer More). Every now and then someone does the world the invaluable favor of reminding us how we got here and what we’ve left behind. Richard M. Gamble has done so for a new generation.”

Andrew Kern, president of the CiRCE Institute and coauthor of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America

“An impressive new volume of selected readings which trace the thread of education as it is woven into our cultural fabric, spanning more than 2,000 years, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers. . . . Gamble has delivered a rich resource for families, teachers, and schools—yes, even public schools, if they would use it. Home educators are certain to find it an invaluable addition to their library.”

Randall Murphree, American Family Association

“Masterfully edited by Gamble, [this] is a unique anthology best described in the term given by Mortimer Adler years ago—conversation. . . . If there is any hope for an educational Renaissance, especially within the liberal arts, it will have to occur with a sense of the authentic and primarily formative education exemplified by the readings in this book.”

Journal of Faith and the Academy

“Having Gamble’s collection in hand will help readers understand the sorry state of things, and grasp how we can work to improve education at all levels. This reasonably priced treasury is recommended for all academic collections, as well as for superintendents and principals everywhere.”

Catholic Library World

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