Artistic Relativism Meets Plato in a High School Discussion

Forming a classroom environment where today’s students are challenged to think for themselves and free to say what they think, while still expecting to be accountable for their ideas, is very difficult. Headmaster Michael Van Hecke of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, shared the following success story with parents this week.

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Mrs. Thomas witnessed a beautiful classroom moment last week when an intense intellectual discussion ensued during the 9th/10th Literature and Composition class and spilled over into the lunch period and beyond.

It happened like this: one of the students, exasperated by years of hearing teachers expound on the virtues of ‘the literary classics’, put forward a contrary argument.  With verve and tenacity the ninth grade girl maintained her position in the face of stiff opposition from Mrs. Thomas and several articulate student colleagues. The young lady explained that although in her earlier youth she had accepted that certain works of literature were ‘classics’ deserving of special respect, she now believed that no work of literature should be held as objectively superior to any other.

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