Make Haste Slowly: Some guiding principles for our days (Part 1)

By Dusty Kinslow, Austin Classical School

Take a moment to ponder the following words:

  • Curiosity
  • Wonder
  • Cultivate
  • Grapple
  • Habits
  • Discipline
  • Formation

What thoughts or images do these words evoke in you?

These words are the vocabulary for classical education.  And, if you’re like me, they are novel words for speaking and thinking about how students learn and teachers teach.  These words are in almost complete opposition to other, more progressive words that characterize conversations about education today.  Words like:

  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Incentive
  • Entertaining/Fun
  • Accommodations
  • Individualized
  • College-Ready

These are not bad words or negative concepts in and of themselves, but their aim is low.  The goal in most educational settings with which we are familiar is “college-readiness” or preparing graduates to enter the workforce.  Again, these are not bad goals, just short-sighted and soul-quenching.

Classical educators, instead, work to aid the embodied souls of our children to become fully trained people, ready to learn, love and serve well.  Our goal is to help raise up a generation of wise and virtuous young men and women who love and pursue the True, the Good and the Beautiful.  This is, in comparison, a quite lofty and soul-thrilling aim.  However, the question remains- “How do we get there?”  Well, we get there slowly.

Over the next few months, we will consider 2 principles that were presented to me as classical pedagogical principles[i].  In other words, they were presented as ways that we should teach classically. And, while I definitely agree that they are sound instructional principles, I have found that they have a deeper, spiritual connection to how we go about our days.  In other words, HOW we teach is more influential than WHAT we teach.

Those of us choosing a classical, University-Model® model of education for our children and our families are conscientiously choosing to go against the flow of most of the world.  Because of this, we will have to be very intentional about continuing to choose to live our days well.  That said, we must be patient within classical education.  It took education decades to move away from classical values and it will likely take us decades to regain.  Take heart!  We are part of a movement- a Re-Form movement- in education.  We are reclaiming the minds and hearts of children and that is exciting!  But it also takes time and grace.  We must “make haste slowly!”

Please join us in the weeks ahead as we consider two fundamental principles of classical education:

  1.  “Festina Lente”
  2. “Multum non Multa”

As we discuss these principles, we’ll learn how they apply to teaching our students classically and how they can be applied in a broader sense within our individual, interior lives and the lives of our family.


[i] Dr. Christopher Perrin, founder of Classical Academic Press and leading classical educator, presented “The Eight Essential Principles of Classical Pedagogy” at the Society of Classical Conference in June 2013.  He’s followed up with several web-based seminars on these principles.  His teaching has caused me think deeply and to share these thoughts with the teachers and parents of Austin Classical School.  If you’d like to hear more excellent teaching from Dr. Perrin on these classical principles, please visit his website at