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Classical Christian Movement

Grammar as a Sure Foundation

By June 25, 2021January 12th, 2023No Comments

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This talk presents the benefits of providing a rigorous study of grammar in the middle school and high school years. Such an approach has fallen out of favor in many quarters and even among formidable intellectuals such as Steven Pinker, a distinguished professor at Harvard University. Pinker’s article in The Guardian entitled “Steven Pinker: 10 ‘grammar rules’ it’s OK to break (sometimes)” is a case in point. All of this is quite understandable, especially for adults whose lives are busy. But for students, Quintilian offers a better pedagogical approach. He likens grammar to a sure foundation that can withstand a superstructure. He also likens the study of grammar to entering into a temple where insights, wit, and erudition can be found and honed. I build on Quintilian and argue that the study of English (and Latin) grammar is an essential part of forming a student’s intellectual life. The seminar will offer a theoretical framework, practical suggestions, and curricular ideas.

John Lee

Prior to becoming the Head of Upper School at the Geneva School of Manhattan, John Lee has taught at various schools including: The St. Bernard’s School in Manhattan, Drew University, and Nyack College. His experience extends outside the classroom; he has pastored for many years, including planting several churches. He also serves as Board President for Ad Fontes Philanthropy. He also writes for The Banner, the denominational magazine of the CRC. His book Paradoxes of Leadership—A Biblical Reflection was published in 2017. He is in the process of publishing a two-volume grammar book for Middle and High School students (summer 2021). His obtained his doctorate’s degree from Yale University and completed a theological degree from Westminster Theological seminary in Philadelphia. He enjoys meeting new people and carpentry. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. The oldest is studying classics and economics at the University of Chicago and the younger loves the Fourth Grade, which includes a healthy serving of English and Latin grammar.