The Alcuin Retreat (Updated)


Fun update: I went to New York a couple of weeks ago for the Alcuin Retreat. Alcuin is a retreat for teachers and administrators at classical schools. The Society of Classical Learning puts on the Alcuin Retreat every year, with the leadership of Dr. Chris Perrin. I’m also excited to visit King’s College and meet Dr. Thornbury, about whom I’ve heard many good things.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Grant Horner, a new colleague at Trinity, for helping me get into the conference. Chris Perrin invited me over the summer but the Alcuin retreat fell off my radar, with the move and new job. Dr. Horner not only reminded me but got me in last minute and is sponsoring my hotel stay, which was very generous.

The theme this year was “assessment,” so talked about testing and grading: How can we re-think grading? What is the purpose of grades and are current methods serving that purpose? How has assessment been done in the past? What has worked and what hasn’t? What does standardized assessment assume about the student and the learning process? What does oral assessment assume? I’ll be posting my notes here any day.

In related news, the week before, I had the privilege of speaking at the University of St. Katherine in San Marcos about classical education. Many thanks to Dr. Gilbert for inviting me and being a gracious host.

I recorded the talk but the audio might need some clean-up.

In essence, I argued that education can and should be a long and informal “initiation” ceremony. Far from mere information transfer (which you can often get by reading a book or website), education is an initiation process into a life of virtue. With a mentor who is pursuing wisdom and a life of virtue, a student can mature into the kind of person who truly thinks well and lives well. The students at St. Katherine are an intrepid lot, and they are blessed to be surrounded by professors with whom this type of education is possible.

Before the visit to USK, I had the opportunity to meet Jean Kim at the Cambridge School in San Diego and hear about the good things happening there. A very impressive school for folks looking for K-12 classical education in that area. Happy to spend some more time with Jean Kim and her team at the Alcuin retreat, since they will be at the “Arete Retreat” concurrently.