Lesson 1: What Should We Read?

Josh Gibbs addresses the question of what Great Books should be read and why time-tested great works are the best options. He makes a distinction between “representational art” vs. “presentational art” and shows how the former is far more valuable for students and a classical education.

Recommended Reading
Outline of Session

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Discussion Questions
  • Why is art that grows in time difficult to love?
  • Why is presentational art more fit for tyrants? What insight might we glean from this fact when thinking about which books to choose?
  • There are so many great classics. How do you narrow down the field?
  • What classics do you think are best for your class?
Things That Last

In our society today, it seems everything can be disposed of without a second thought. If you look around our cities and homes, so much could be easily thrown away and likely would not be worth reparing. In a way, this is what presentational art is. One of the Transformers movies or one of Macklemore’s hit songs could easily be lost in the next few years and the world would not change much, but if Homer’s works were lost, the trajectory of some people’s lives might change, because those works have continued to be extraordinarily influential throughout the years.


Assignments and Action Steps

Find some famous classical (representational) piece of art the you do not currently love. Listen to, read, ponder, and observe it. Take time with it and approach it as a student. During and after, keep a “pedagogical diary” and record your thoughts on the process and how you might use it to help your students or children to have the experience of growing in love for the classics. Then, share the results with your colleagues, academic team, or another homeschooling parent. Consider having your academic team do this together and then share the results and discuss at a team meeting. If you are a homeschool parent, consider sharing with your spouse or a homeschooling friend with similar philosophy of education.


  1. Eyden Mugure

    Thank you so much for the information. I have learnt a lot.

  2. Pat Weist

    This is an enjoyable CEU class! Thank you.

  3. Shiloh Upson

    Art that grows in time is difficult to love because it is more difficult to digest. It is not mere brain-candy, and it often does not make us feel good inherently. We must mull it over and grow our love and appreciation thereof.

    Presentational art is more fit for tyrants because it does not inspire thinking, and thus its consumers are not likely to rebel against the work of their ruler. As we try to give our children glimpses of the eternal, we should try to push them to become thinkers, even if it poses a threat to our “rule” in the classroom. It is far more important to “produce great men” as Walt Whitman once said, than it is to appease the natural tastes of our students.

  4. logic school

    I can’t agree more with the Transformers sound description! What a funny observation and so true. Thank you for relatable, friendly conversation about serious and necessary conversations.

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