Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Paideia –  παιδεια Some Thoughts on Public Education

I’d never heard of this word before reading Pete Hegseth’s and David Goodwin’s Battle For The American Mind.  It’s a Greek word for formative education. While it has no exact English translation, Plato said that a student “is rightly trained in respect of pleasures and pains so as to hate what ought to be hated, right from the beginning to the very end, and to love what ought to be loved.”

Paideia originally referred to a process of education, the means to an educational end. Over time, it came to actually BE the end to be achieved. As such, it came to signify and to describe the very culture it sought to create. In essence, paideia includes the part of education and upbringing that forms a human soul — and thus embodies the ingredients that together form a culture. Put another way, paideia is a description of the values we actually love, the truth we actually believe, and what we assume about the nature of our world. Such an important word, such an important concept — about which I knew absolutely nothing!

Progressivism fashioned your and my education

What I didn’t realize was how “Progressivism” fashioned the education I received — and likely that you received. Whether public or private, our education has been shaped largely by policies and goals put forth by the government in general and by the NEA and AFT in particular (the two labor unions behind public education in the United States). The progressives have redefined and built education in their own image — and it has nothing to do with Christianity or a Biblical worldview. It is shaped and prosecuted by a worldview that (as Natasha Crain so aptly states in her book Faithfully Different) has happiness as the end goal, feelings as the ultimate guide, judgment as the ultimate sin, and God as the ultimate guess.

Progressivism has dramatically secularized education and in the process has shaped students’ worldviews as antagonistic to God and led them to discard objective morals or truth. It has prioritized innovation, experimentation, and social justice over traditional values and virtues. The bottom line: Progressivism has destroyed Classical Christian Education.

Critical thinking is now an artifact, despite the massive amounts of money spent on public education. As Progressives strive to “make education more accessible,” standards have plummeted. Could that be the reason California’s educational record is ranked among the lowest in the United States — despite spending $23,089 per student in 2021-2022!?! Students are coached into “emotional intelligence” and “self-expression” at the expense of rigorous intellectual exploration. They’re encouraged to voice opinions — but can’t build upon foundational knowledge or reasoning skills to support their views. 

back to paideia . . .

Promoting progressive ideals will not prepare kids to become critical thinkers and well-rounded humans. Classics like literature, history, and philosophy can give our next generation leaders a deep understanding of their cultural and educational heritage. When that understanding is undergirded by a strong system of values and virtues embedded in the Judeo-Christian ethic, they are prepared to think critically about the world they will soon be leading!

Classical Christian Education

  • Strong Moral Compass
    • Firmly rooted in Christian Virtues
    • Builds a strong moral compass in a world where relativism rules
  • A Robust Core Curriculum
    • Steeped in the great works of Literature, Philosophy, and Theology
    • Fosters critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and a broad worldview
  • Intellectual Rigor
    • The Trivium – grammar, logic and rhetoric
    • The Quadrivium – arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy
  • Holistic Development goes beyond academics
    • Nurtures intellectual, moral and spiritual character attributes
    • Ensures students graduate as well-rounded humans, able to navigate the complexities of life

John Dewey, one of the leaders in the Progressive Education movement said clearly that education was never intended to prepare kids for the future! Progressive Education is stealing our kids’ futures!

Read the book Battle For The American Mind!

1 thought on “Paideia –  παιδεια Some Thoughts on Public Education”

  1. Thank you Rick for another excellent post. Like you, I had not previously seen or heard of “paideia.” You did a great job of explaining that and how it applies to education. I have been suspicious of “progressivism” in the educational system for quite some time and your article now justifies that, I believe.

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