In this brief course, Dr. Perrin traces the history of classical education as it resided in the Western monastic tradition. At a time when many are considering “the Benedict Option,” it is worth studying Benedict (480–543 AD) and the tradition of monastic education that preserved and extended classical Christian education. In one of the great ironies of history, Benedict flees the corruption of his university education in Rome and simply prays for 3 years at Subiaco (near the ruins of Nero’s “party palace”) before emerging to become the one who safeguards the best of Christian and Roman culture.

Remarkably, it is a man who seeks God in prayer while Rome is crumbling who becomes the leader of a monastic movement that preserves learning and piety for centuries to come. Benedict starts 12 monasteries in his lifetime, each with a school for educating the monks. By 1300 AD, many thousands of monasteries permeate Europe. Through several cycles of growth, stagnancy, corruption, and renewal, we will see that without Benedictine education, we would lack many of the riches that we inherit as classical educators.

In this course, Dr. Perrin notes the pedagogical and liturgical practices that characterized monastic education—many of which may serve to inspire and renew our own classical schools and home schools today.

  • Introduction to the Course
    • Historic and Modern Notions of Monasticism
    • The Legacy of Monasticism
  • The Unfinished Temple
  • Survey of the Early Monastics
    • Anthony the Great
    • Pachomius the Great
    • Simeon the Stylite
    • John Cassian
    • Benedict
  • Elements of Western Monasticism
    • Work, Study, Prayer
    • Deep Contemplation of Scripture and Literature
    • Rhythm of Solitude and Community
    • Rest or Scholé
    • Formation / Habits of Holiness
  • Conclusion
    • How to Learn from this Tradition
    • Suggested Reading
Dr. Christopher Perrin is an author, consultant, and speaker who specializes in classical education. He is committed to the renewal of the liberal arts tradition. He cofounded and serves full-time as the CEO/publisher at Classical Academic Press, a classical education curriculum, media, and consulting company. Christopher also serves as a consultant to charter, public, private, and Christian schools across the country. He serves on the board of the Society for Classical Learning and as the director of the Alcuin Fellowship of classical educators. He has published numerous articles and lectures that are widely used throughout the United States and the English-speaking world.

Christopher received his BA in history from the University of South Carolina and his MDiv and PhD in apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was also a special student in literature at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He has taught at Messiah College and Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as the founding headmaster of a classical school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for 10 years. He is the author of the books An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for ParentsThe Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, and Greek for Children, and the coauthor of the Latin for Children series published by Classical Academic Press.

Please Note: The certification credit component of this course is now active but also undergoing refinement and testing.

To obtain a certification credit for this course, simply complete the quiz that follows each presentation in the course, and then also take the certification test at the end of the course. The quizzes are designed to ensure that you have understood the essential content of each presentation, and they can be taken more than once if necessary. The cumulative certification test at the end of the course is given as a pass/fail test and requires that you upload one or more essays demonstrating your understanding this course (with essays evaluated by word count only). When you have completed the course, a certificate that you can print or email will magically appear under the “My Courses” section of this website.

We recommend previewing the essay question at the end of the End-of-Course Test. This will help in guiding your note taking as you progress through the course.

By taking the course for certification credit, you also will be on your way to obtaining a Level 3 certification.

Note: This information is not needed for any current CU subscribers.

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