The Lost Tools of Learning

  • Dorothy Sayers was most famous for her work in writing poetry and crime fiction

  • Sayers attended Oxford and was a good friend of C.S. Lewis and an occasional member of the Socratic Club

  • "The Lost Tools of Learning" is an essay Sayers wrote to diagnose the ills of education in her time and has been revived in modern times as a fair critique of the missed opportunities in the contemporary model of education

  • Some notable quotes:

    • “Is not the great defect of our education today—a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned—that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.” 

    • “For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.”

    • “When we think about the remarkably early age at which the young men went up to the University in, let us say, Tudor times, and thereafter were held fit to assume responsibility for the conduct of their own affairs, are we altogether comfortable about that artificial prolongation of intellectual childhood and adolescence into the years of physical maturity which is so marked in our own day? To postpone the acceptance of responsibility to a late date brings with it a number of psychological complications which, while they may interest the psychiatrist, are scarcely beneficial either to the individual or to society.” 

  • Below is a copy of the essay for you to download and read. Subscribe below to hear more about what HMSOW is doing in response to reviving the lost tools of learning.

©2018 by Mary Seat of Wisdom Classical Academy