Personal Philosophy


Students come in all shapes and sizes.  There are students with degrees.  There are students who are in high school and college.  There are students who work full time.  There are students without degrees who study for the sake of knowledge.  We are all students in the University of Life, endeavoring and striving in a curriculum that is perpetual.  Here at Burton Beyond, we are all students—you and me.


As a teacher, I have a very simple philosophy.  Knowledge is power, and its acquisition is crucial.  Unfortunately, public schools have jettisoned proven methods of education in favor of more “democratized” approach.  For centuries, classical education was the method of educating individuals, utilizing primary sources and emphasizing rote memory and critical thinking.  The trivium system was used in schools until the early twentieth century, which divided the curriculum into grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  The quadrivium (traditionally arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy, but basically the modern equivalent of liberal arts)) was then worked into those three phases, providing the child with preparation in the liberal arts:  history, mathematics, language, philosophy, the arts, the sciences, and the humanities.  This form of education produced students who were prepared to begin college at the age of 16.  Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein, for example, were products of classical education.  Granted, this type of education was available generally to those who had sufficient capital or to those who went to church schools.  However, we now have the resources to provide classical education to everyone. 


Unfortunately, with the advent of John Dewey’s ideas about education, sources traditionally used in classical education were viewed as elitist and without merit in a democracy.  So the bar was lowered.  Students no longer studied Greek and Latin before age 12.  Classical literature, including the works of Homer, Aquinas, Plato, and even the Bible, was slowly filtered out of the basic requirements of education. 


I believe in classical education.  I expound its merit to my students.  It is the ONLY way to reinvigorate the minds of our young people.  Standardized testing, as it is, lowers expectations of those who would excel, and raises expectations unrealistically for students with learning, physical, and mental disabilities.  Classical education is the solution to changing this stinging fact:  amongst the 38 major industrial nations in the world, American high school students’ performance rates 19th.


With regard to scholarship and research, I believe in research with purpose and results.  Dissemination is absolutely necessary.  If I don’t bring the fruit of my work to you, then it doesn’t really have value.


Ultimately, I am your scholar.  I am a people’s historian.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think it is very important to have my academic peers review and critique my work.  That is part of the process of scholarship.  However, if I can’t convey that information to you, make it digestible, and even a little enjoyable, then I consider that a far greater disservice—a crime even.  It gives me great satisfaction to do just that.  You have my promise that I will use my God-given abilities and interests to inform you on what I consider some incredibly engaging and interesting subjects.


It’s a symbiosis you’ll find here, for teaching is learning.  They go hand in hand at Burton Beyond.

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