Dr. Joseph Clair serves as Director of the William Penn Honors Program and Associate Dean for the Liberal Arts at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Kyler Schubkegel, a current student in the William Penn Honors Program, had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Clair about his recent book On Education, Formation, Citizenship and the Lost Purpose of Learning (Bloomsbury, 2018). That interview is excerpted below.
No human achievement better displays the truth and beauty that mark the faith and reason of the West than the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres, France. Located some 60 miles southwest of its sister cathedral of the same name and dedication in Paris—also a gem in its own right—Chartres can be visited and explored over and over again with no fear of exhausting its riches. What makes this place so special?
Daniel Scoggin is a co-founder of Great Hearts Academies and has served initially as the organization’s CEO when it launched and grew in Arizona and now as its director of national growth as the mission expands to other states. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, the Great Hearts network includes 28 schools in Arizona and Texas, serving over 15,000 students. It is without challenge the most successful organization of charter schools in the country. Quite remarkably, the Great Hearts mission is classical. Cana Academy’s president, Andrew Zwerneman, recently had the opportunity to engage Dan Scoggin in an interview for Open City.
As with great works of imaginative literature, masterworks of art move us to understand and appreciate the human condition. And no master artist moves us better than Rembrandt. In his more than three hundred paintings, Rembrandt’s focus is riveted on what is real—specifically, the imperfect and yet glorious spectacle of human existence.
Can a classical alternative to today’s typical educational options appeal to the very non-traditional, highly mobile, hyper-tech-savvy millennials? I think the answer is yes, but for those of us who provide opportunities for classical education, we need to think more like millennials. We need to get inside their box and offer an attractive option that makes sense to them.
The Cana team has an opportunity to work among some distant neighbors who could benefit from the kind of learning culture we develop. In late September I was invited to give a presentation to a board of reviewers of the Gila River Indian Community. My hosts were the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit, a recently formed order of priests and brothers who have responded to the call to minister to the Native Americans just south of Phoenix, Arizona. Their hope is to open a mission high school in two years, and they have turned to Cana Academy to help them get that done. I was on site to propose a vision for the curriculum, and the friars have accepted the proposal. Now, the Cana team is constructing the curriculum.
In the almost indescribably horrific conditions of those camps, death was a daily reality for the prisoners. The cruelty of the guards, the wretched food, the dangerous and incessant labor, and disease left the prisoners in a state that would best be described as subhuman. At this nadir of the possibilities of the human condition, Gordon’s second, spiritual journey began.