What is a Literary Education?

Our full company name is "The Center for Literary Education." What does that mean?


The capacity for self-knowledge is the thing that makes us human. Since education is the cultivation of mature humanity in students, we conclude that education happens when a student catches a glimpse of himself as a thinking creature. In the best case scenario, this glimmer of self-knowledge leads him further, to understand himself as an imperfect creature - a sinful creature, desperately in need of Grace.

At Center For Lit, we believe that any experience, academic or otherwise, which creates the conditions for this type of self-knowledge is a worthwhile education, and that all the book learning in the world is useless if it doesn't create these conditions.

It turns out, however, that the Great Books of the Western tradition have been creating the conditions for self-knowledge in all types of readers for thousands of years. They are tried and true, the most reliable educational tools our civilization has ever produced.

A Literary Education, then, is simply a journey into self-knowledge using the occasions afforded by the Great Books.

It is important to note that our civilization has been producing Great Books for three thousand years. No student will ever read them all. Luckily, a Literary Education by our definition doesn't require this. Remember, education isn't a curriculum; it's a moment of self-realization. It can happen on book #50 or on book #1, or outside of the classroom altogether. If God is faithful, it will happen over and over again to all of us.

At Center For Lit, we help teachers use the Great Books one at a time, as discrete opportunities to confront students with their own humanity.

You can plan a Literary Education of your own by keeping these questions and answers in mind:

Which Great Books should you read?
The ones that interest you.

How many Great Books should you read?
The next one.

How fast should you read them?
As slowly as necessary. There are no deadlines in real education.

What should you DO with them after reading?
Discuss them with another reader.

How will you know when you're finished?
You will never be finished until you know fully, even as you are fully known (1 Cor 13:12).