Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Is Classical Education conservative or Conservative? | Office Hours with Jeremy Tate

April 09, 2024 Classic Learning Test
Is Classical Education conservative or Conservative? | Office Hours with Jeremy Tate
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
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Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Is Classical Education conservative or Conservative? | Office Hours with Jeremy Tate
Apr 09, 2024
Classic Learning Test

On Office Hours with Jeremy Tate, Jeremy and Soren dive into the most recent, need-to-know news surrounding the education renewal movement. Tune in to hear about the recent article published by The New Yorker on classical education and an exciting announcement from Christendom College. Jeremy and Soren conclude by talking about their strategies for learning other languages and the importance of being familiar with a diverse linguistic tradition. 

Show Notes Transcript

On Office Hours with Jeremy Tate, Jeremy and Soren dive into the most recent, need-to-know news surrounding the education renewal movement. Tune in to hear about the recent article published by The New Yorker on classical education and an exciting announcement from Christendom College. Jeremy and Soren conclude by talking about their strategies for learning other languages and the importance of being familiar with a diverse linguistic tradition. 

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:01.676)
The New Yorker argues that classical education, despite its success around the world, is conservative and reactionary, running away from the progressive ideas it fears. CLT's greatest critique of modern education, however, is not political at all. And in a recent announcement, Christendom College becomes the first CLT partner college to offer full tuition scholarships to CLT 10 national award recipients. This will prove to be an incredible opportunity for students.

and Christendom College alike. My name is Soren Schwab and this is Office Hours with Jeremy Tate.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:40.876)
Welcome back to the Anchored Podcast and thank you for joining us for Office Hours with Jeremy Tate. I'm here at CLT headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland with none other than our founder and CEO. Jeremy, how are you today?

Jeremy Tate (00:54.068)
So we're doing well. I'm super excited about the topics today. The New Yorker article, it's kind of like reading a book. There's a lot to read there. And then of course, Christendom College, thrilled to be here, brother.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (01:05.74)
Yeah, truly, the New Yorker article could have been a book, right? I mean, and you know, we both met Emma Green and I think she could have written a book, but I think she was pregnant for a lot of the research and I think she submitted the article and now has a new child.

Jeremy Tate (01:26.036)
Men had a baby. That's right. I think it was number three for Emma and her husband. That's right.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (01:31.372)
Yeah, yeah. So I think it was interesting to see kind of the reaction to the article. I think folks that are kind of in the midst of this classic education sometimes battle and the way we're portrayed in the media, and it's not always positive, same with CLT, right? Especially kind of more on the left. Had probably a different reaction to folks that are not following this at all. Maybe the response was a bit more,

positive for you and me, right? Given that a fairly left leaning magazine wrote an article that was overall well balanced and nuanced, but kind of want to hear your take on it.

Jeremy Tate (02:11.86)
Sure, yeah, and so on. First thing, just a shout out to Emma Green. I think that part of what we have seen, and look, we can critique the right and the left, but I think part of what we have seen in kind of the new left over the past decade is actually what we would define as illiberalism, not the old school kind of JFK open to all ideas, but a sensitivity to many ideas. I was talking to the president of our board, Dr. Angel Adams -Param, and I said,

I said, you know, Angel, what is different, you know, teaching now compared to 20 years ago? And she said, well, now you kind of have to tiptoe around and there are so many wrong things that you could say. You know, it's very kind of distressing to be in that environment. I think Emma, to her credit, you know, writing for the New Yorker, but really open to ideas. Emma did not have a preconceived conception of classical. She did a tremendous amount of research. And I think really, really wanted to get to understand this movement.

and did a great job with it as well. Spent six months researching, interviewing folks, traveled to Africa with our own Noah Tyler and...

David Goodwin, of course, from ACCS. And look, this is the first time, Soren, if you remember, we were in the New Yorker, was the spoof on the new Florida alternative to the SAT and ACT that had all kinds of ridiculous questions. Tommy had 20 guns, Mike has 40, and Richard has 130. Who is the coolest? These kinds of ridiculous questions. So I felt like it was a win. End of the day, I think.

I think Emma knows her audience at the New Yorker. And I think that this is a win for classical education, all things said and done.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (03:59.116)
Yeah, I really appreciate your saying that, right? You know your audience and her audience is probably not the same audience that watches Fox News, right? And so I think given that, and she wrote a really extensive piece on my alma mater on Hillsdale College too. And sometimes I had to remind folks at Hillsdale, like her article was not supposed to be a flattering shout out to Hillsdale College, right? I mean, it is, but it's solid journalism. Now there were a few, you know,

jabs, I would say, you know, if you maybe what people perceived as maybe overly racializing. But again, I think for us that are used to reading some of the, you know, kind of left media on classical education, it was not bad, right? It was not overly, except for I think there was something about your hair that I can attest to was not accurate. But other than that, fairly well -balanced.

What did you make of kind of her overall point of, you know, kind of the liberal arts being conservative, reactionary, you know, in response to progressivism? Do you feel like she hit the nail on the head there or do you maybe have some criticism there?

Jeremy Tate (05:12.02)
You know, I've been thinking about this a lot even before the article. And I think really since the 1920s, the Scopes trial, you've had actually a reactionary kind of anti -intellectual threat within American conservatism and even within American Christianity as well.

I think actually part of what we're seeing now though with the new left is also an anti -intellectualism, right? You can't be against the tradition of Aristotle and Socrates and Plato and not be kind of anti -intellectual. Now, actually, I love to get your thoughts as someone who grew up in kind of secular progressive Europe, grew up in Germany where...

In some ways, I think what you would call progressivism or liberalism absolutely takes the form of intellectualism as well. And where I think it's taking a new form in the US with again, kind of anti -intellectualism. I'm curious if you see this. I think Emma did. And I think in some ways she's speaking into that.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (06:10.444)
I think so too, and you know what, I don't know when it was, but you interviewed Roosevelt Montaz, and I just saw him in Phoenix, he was a keynote at an event, and talked about his book, Rescuing Socrates, and he would probably consider himself more center left, but a big proponent of classical education, liberal arts, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I remember from that conversation with you where he talked about that,

that the left and the right are oftentimes critical of classical education, but for different reasons and that traditionally the left didn't like it because they were more anti -tradition. But on the right, you also have this kind of anti -intellectual and maybe now it's even materializing into, you know, even anti -higher ed, right, movement. But I think that's new and I completely agree with you. And even, I mean, growing up, it was unfathomable for a student like myself.

to not read the intellectual heavyweights of the Western tradition, right? I mean, if you went to German gymnasium, you're not gonna not read Goethe and Schiller and Shakespeare and Aristotle. That's unfathomable. I wonder if that's gonna change as well. I think it has changed in this country.

Jeremy Tate (07:13.78)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (07:33.516)
So Article 2 that we're going to link here, it just makes me so incredibly happy. And I can tell you later on why that makes me particularly happy. Of course, it's a big win for CLT, a big win for Christendom. And so we at CLT have, of course, our college entrance exam, which probably gets 99 % of the media attention. And I understand why. But we also have a test for ninth and 10th graders, kind of a preparatory.

exam and analog to the PSAT, which is called CLT -10. And it's been our most successful and most popular test for a long, long time, really. And we've always had scholarships tied to it, $2 ,500 scholarship for high achievers. But now we're seeing kind of a change in how colleges recruit and then honor these students that win these awards. And so Christendom College here in Virginia in Front Royal is the first

college to reward a full scholarship to CLT 10 award winners. Hopefully the first of many, many, many more, but obviously Jeremy, you've given your blood, sweat and tears to CLT and you've been doing it for many, many years. And so I'd love to hear kind of your reaction to this wonderful news.

Jeremy Tate (08:55.764)
Yeah, super grateful to the folks at Christendom College. This has been a long, long time coming, right? You know, so since we started this already, you know, 2015, 2016, and since you arrived at CLT in 2018, and you've been relaying these conversations that you've had with heads of school over the years, you know, when some folks will say, you know, why do you do the PSAT in seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade for five years? And often they'll say, well, national merit.

And so you're like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute, hang on. So you've got whole schools that take this test for five years because you might have a handful of kids. So really, National Merit PSAT, it's been one of the ways that the college board, a company that obviously publicly everyone knows has gone on this really kind of hardcore left ideological turn where they're trying to push all of these ideas into the classroom.

It has really kind of kept itself locked into schools through the PSAT through national merit And over the years, you know, we've built up the CLT 10 through CLT 10 national award recognition and we anticipated one college Being the first and thrilled that it is Christian College to say yes We're gonna treat this just like we would treat a PSAT national award recipient But they're actually saying a little more than that. They're saying

we would actually prefer.

a CLT 10 national award recipient over a national merit recipient, which is incredible. I think the students that take the CLT are often great fits for a place like Christian College. And it was only 48 hours later, Sorin, that the new Institute of Catholic Technology, Catholic Institute of Technology in Castel Gandolfo, beautiful, beautiful campus just south of Rome, an American university with a Rome campus,

Jeremy Tate (10:55.078)
said we're gonna be the second and we're not gonna let anybody beat us to it. So now we've had another university also make the same announcement, full tuition, 100 % scholarship to students who are CLT 10 National Award recipients. Super excited about this.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (11:13.932)
Absolutely, and of course it's great news for Christendom, great news for Catholic Tech, great news for those students. But admittedly, it is the small number of students that compete for CLT national awards for national merit. I think it's a big win for high schools, especially classical Christian high schools, homeschool families that feel like they kind of have to play that game with PSAT. And the number of times schools tell me,

We'd rather do CLT 10 because CLT 10 gives us insight into our students' performance, right, apart from the scholarships. PSAT is really the only purpose is because we might have some national award winners. But the parents have that expectation, right? That's what they know. And so I think for a school to be able to say, we're gonna do CLT 10 and hey, there are hopefully in a few years, the exact same benefits that you get from national merit. But we're also getting information for our teachers and...

We're not compromising our curriculum, we're not compromising our mission by pushing these board assessments down. So I really do hope from a former admin perspective that this is going to be good news for a lot of schools that can be unapologetically classical and don't feel like they have to cater still to the progressive education system by constantly offering PSAT. So great news overall.

Jeremy Tate (12:16.628)
Totally. Yeah.

Jeremy Tate (12:36.372)
And I think we're going to see more adding their names to this list as well. Talking to the good folks at the University of Tulsa, Dr. Jen Fray's Honors College there. They're kind of already, it's not official, but treating CLT -10 National Award recipients this way. I think what they're doing at the University of Tulsa and the Honors College there is really kind of becoming a top gun destination for a lot of students coming out of these great classical charter schools, classical Christian schools, Catholic schools. So it's an exciting time. I expect this time.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (12:38.156)

Jeremy Tate (13:06.326)
next year's award. It's going to be a long list of colleges that are treating CLT 10 National Award recipients this way.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (13:12.524)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (13:16.94)
Yeah, yeah, and before I let you go, anything interesting you're reading right now, any articles, any books, any audio books that you've recently read or listened to that you'd like to share with our audience?

Jeremy Tate (13:27.7)
So, Soren, you'd be very interested in this, and this is actually Soren Schwab inspired, I promise you it is. So I'm actually trying to move to about 50 % of my reading in Spanish.

And so it's kind of like you can multitask this way of like you can read a book and you're also learning a language at the same time. And so I've gotten to a point where I can I'm doing the screw tape letters in Spanish on Audible and I've read it enough times, probably three or four times in the past where I know the book well enough to kind of make up for the gaps in my Spanish. So, you know, Lewis is a big believer in reading books more than once. And so I think that's the other thing I'm doing as well is getting that second read. Maybe it's.

age. I'm an old man now, 42 years old. So I'm thinking, you know what, instead of something new, I want to go back and take a second read or a third read. And we're doing this right now. As a company, we're reading Chesterton's Orthodoxy out loud together every Monday morning. Definitely no book has impacted me as much as Orthodoxy. It's been really fun digging into this together. What about you, Soren? What are you reading?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (14:35.948)
Well, I'm excited to dig into Orthodoxy. I mean, I think that is Jeremy Tate inspired because you told me that's the one book you read every single year. And so I've read it two years ago, first time last year, and now we're going to read it again. And I think my biggest hesitation at first was, well, you know, I'm not Catholic. And so should I read Orthodoxy like every year? But...

You reminded me that when Chesterton actually wrote Orthodoxy, he was not even Catholic himself, he was Anglican, I believe. Is that right?

Jeremy Tate (15:07.604)
That's right. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Not till about 20 years after actually he wrote Orthodox. I think he converted in 1927. Sorin, speaking French and German and Spanish, do you do most of your leisure reading in English or do you mix it up?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:11.724)
So I'm really excited to dig into that again this year.

Yeah. Yeah.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:28.108)
I do most of my leisure reading in English. Of course, if I'm reading a book by a German author, I read it in German, or if I'm reading a French author, I did Les Mis, and I kind of did half and half. And of course, that's a beast. But my wife and I went to Paris, and so I felt like, OK, what's a book that's set in Paris that I could read? And of course, I read French very slowly. And Les Mis is 1 ,000 pages. So I kind of switched back and forth.

Jeremy Tate (15:51.284)
It looks like it's like 800 pages. I mean, that is a massive book.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:57.708)
It is a massive book. I think on audio, even on audio, it was like 36 hours. But Victor Hugo, I mean, the language is just absolutely, absolutely beautiful. So I try, but I think living in America, I now better understand Americans that don't learn a lot of languages because you kind of, it's easy to get a little lazy, right? Because you really don't have to, and you're not exposed to it a lot. And so...

I have to intentionally remind myself, hey, keep it alive, the spirit of the languages.

Jeremy Tate (16:28.404)
But this is what's so different. My mom, French and Spanish major, double majored in French and Spanish, taught French and Spanish for years and years. Lived in Lyon, France for a long time.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (16:39.244)

Jeremy Tate (16:40.18)
I feel like mainstream education, they want you to learn a language because it's useful. And our classical schools, yeah, they know that it can be useful, but they also know that it changes you. It changes who you are as a person. And that's what is so beautiful about the classical understanding of languages. And as soon as that clicked...

It was like, oh, in some ways, I think your kind of experience of this life is a bit diminished if you only know one language. That's why I'm so excited to be pursuing one. But I don't have the brain for it. Language acquisition peaks at age eight, Sorin. So I'm trying to learn it later in life, but better late than never, I guess.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (17:20.108)
Yeah, yeah, I think, and full disclosure, I did not have that understanding. I learned languages purely for practical reasons as well. And if I could go back, I would start with Latin. I took Latin as like my fourth or fifth language and I was kicking myself in the behind, right? I think, oh my God, everything else would have been so much easier if I had started with Latin. But isn't that the crux of the matter in general about learning?

I remember having that conversation with you and I think it was, I think you visited Barcelona and you went to the Sacrada Familia, which is still not finished, but it will be here in 10 years or so. But you talked about the learning math and that math was only explained to you as well. You're going to need this, right? You're going to need that's going to be useful. And then you walk into Sacrada Familia and you look at this and like,

Jeremy Tate (18:03.828)
Totally, yeah.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (18:07.628)
Why did no one tell me that better understanding math also makes you better understand the composition of the universe and architecture? And you probably would have been interested in math and I know I would have been.

Jeremy Tate (18:18.292)
I love that so much and I think it was a Hillsdale professor, maybe Jeffrey Lehman or someone who said, the reason we do math is because it impresses upon your soul the beauty and order of the universe. I'm like, oh my goodness, that is so much deeper and richer than like, yeah, you'll use it one day.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (18:42.956)
Wonderful. Well, this is delightful. As always, my friend, thank you for joining today and look forward to the next Office Hour with Jeremy Tate.

Jeremy Tate (18:50.356)
Awesome, thank you so much.