February 2nd 2021

Why Classics Matters

What is the purpose of education and where does Classics fit?

This is a debate that has raged since Philosophy began. The question of what learning was preoccupied Socrates, the issue of how education should guard and perpetuate a society bothered Plato, and it still continues. I remember participating in a debate about this very question on the first Residential for my PGCE at the University of Buckingham. We had been given a variety of theories about what education was for, whom it should benefit, and the form it should take. My group, with me as avid spokesperson, argued that education should begin with the well-being, growth, and fulfilment of the individual. From the individual came willing and thriving contribution to their society, and thus benefit to their society.

However, speculation aside, I offer some ideas about what we hope students will gain from education and will explain how Classics ticks the boxes:


  • Critical thinking and the ability to question

  • Broadening of horizons

  • Self-awareness and reflection

  • The connection between past and present and its lessons


Classics is not only a rigorous intellectual discipline, it is an illuminating and sobering mirror for ourselves and our societies, even our world.