Classical education strives to teach students how to think, rather than what to think. With this goal in mind, if one had the opportunity to create a primary source reader devoted to the key texts of Western civilization, what would that reader look like? What texts would be included in such an undertaking, in the hopes that by reading such texts, students would develop a genuine love of learning and appreciate the roots of the Classical tradition? How might these texts be presented, edited, and arranged, so as to make reading and teaching these texts easy and enjoyable for teachers, parents, and students?
Taking all this into consideration, a primary source book designed for a Classical curriculum should strive to cultivate the intellect and character of the whole student. Such a primary source book would be inter-disciplinary including works from history, literature, philosophy, math, science, and art. Such a source book should allow students to trace the consequences of ideas through time and connections between these ideas across disciplines. As an educational resource, Thales Key Texts aims to help students cultivate critical thinking skills, develop a genuine love of learning, promote the values needed to be a responsible and empathetic citizen, and provide a survey of the foundations of Western culture.
Thales Key Texts: The Ancient World offers a wide range of primary source texts from the ancient Near East to the Roman Empire and the major events, institutions, and figures in between. Chapters are devoted to the foundational figures and books of the Western tradition, including the Bible, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as scientific and mathematical texts from figures like Thales of Miletus, Pythagoras, and Euclid. Each entry offers an opening question designed to spark the student’s interest in the topic, a paragraph explaining the background of the author and the context of the work itself, and suggested questions for classroom discussion or written composition. The texts themselves vary from 1 to 6 pages in length, so that they may provide adequate material for a homework assignment, class discussions, and formal Socratic Seminars.
In addition, The Ancient World contains material devoted to the art work of the ancient world, including mosaics, frescos, and sculptures, that utilize the interactive features available in ebooks. Each image contains text boxes imbedded into the image itself that, when tapped, explain relevant vocabulary words and important details about the painting. Every time students click on the appropriate text box, the image zooms in to explain that feature to students in a manner that literally opens up the immense possibilities of a Classical education. As Isaac Newtown said that great men stand on the shoulders of giants, Thales Key Texts aims to preserve the giants of the Western canon, so that students may stand upon their shoulders and survey with confidence the world in which they live. As Isaac Newtown said that great men stand on the shoulders of giants, Thales Key Texts aims to preserve the giants of the Western canon, so that students may stand upon their shoulders and survey with confidence the world in which they live.