Date of Award

Spring 3-27-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Classical Studies

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Anita Simpkins

Committee Professor

Dr. Kirsty Gilpin


Following the Covid 19 pandemic, standardized mathematics test scores for American 4th and 8th graders plummeted dramatically. While many have been quick to blame the sudden and chaotic quarantine-mandated movement onto virtual platforms of learning, the history of American public education reveals a centuries-old struggle for math proficiency amid inconsistent attitudes about the relevance of math, appropriate objectives for math proficiency, and the mechanisms by which numeracy should be evaluated. From the mid-19th century, during what the author will refer to as the modern education era, objectives have endured constant recalibration as oscillating priorities have dictated math skill prioritization. The result has been a quantifiably inferior legacy of math outcomes that have continuously fallen short of the needs of the country, and more importantly, the needs of young students. A plethora of consequences have arisen in the wake of educational fickleness and misguided emphasis in the modern classroom; prominent among them are negative academic, emotional, and spiritual repercussions visited on young and impressionable students of mathematics which interrelate in such a way as to leave them ill prepared and demoralized. In contrast to the modern education paradigm, the ideals of a classical Christian education necessarily consider a study of mathematics to be a means of human flourishing rather than a mechanism by which to simply attain college entrance, provide a robust workforce, or address and combat erratic threats to the nation. Classical Christian education objectives are fixed in a timeless call to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all things and to acknowledge His glory as an aim of all endeavors. By providing effective instruction through judicious and trustworthy tools, and by making math personally relevant through acknowledgement of math’s 5 transcendent realities, it is possible to break cycles of trepidation, disinterest, and misunderstanding that culminate in math incompetency. In doing so, it stands to reason that this reclamation of success of individual students would echo, collectively, into society, the nation, and beyond.