What is Classical, Christian Education?
The effectiveness of classical education has been proven over centuries as it has produced many of history's greatest thinkers and reformers. It was initiated by the ancient Greeks and Romans and has been the standard method of education until approximately 100 years ago. There is currently a growing movement of schools and families that are returning to classical education as many progressive models have failed to produce their intended results. A classical, Christian education seeks to educate the whole person by offering a well-rounded education built atop the pillars of truth, goodness, and beauty. Below is a list of several more important characteristics that shape a classical, Christian education.
A classical education is typically defined by three stages of learning known as the Trivium. The Trivium consists of the grammar stage, the logic stage, and the rhetoric stage. The age-appropriate learning tools utilized in each of these stages are a large part of why classical education has been so effective through the centuries.
Grammar stage- The primary grades focus on learning facts through song and recitation, activities that are enjoyable and natural to young children. This provides the building blocks for all of learning.
Logic stage- The middle school grades emphasize logic and critical thinking, training students to reason and argue well.
Rhetoric stage- The secondary grades focus on communicating with eloquence in both speech and writing, giving a voice to opinionated teenagers who love to work out their ideas through research and debate.
Educating the whole person.
The intention of a classical education is to affect the whole person by providing a well-rounded liberal arts education. This is achieved by offering a curriculum that emphasizes the Trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, as well as the study of Latin, Math, Science, and the fine arts. Students read classic literature and study the foundations of western civilization, gaining wisdom and insight from the past. They also gain an appreciation for the arts by learning about and experiencing the best music and art that history has to offer. All these things, taught within the context of a Christ-centered curriculum, support the end goal of producing wise and virtuous people who love God, see and appreciate the beauty of His creation, and are able to successfully engage in the world in a way that glorifies and honors Christ.
Hidden in all types of education is a set of beliefs and values that communicate to students what is true about God, the world, and themselves. Even if not explicitly stated, there are underlying themes and beliefs that are meant to form and shape the students and ultimately the culture. Classical, Christian education is rooted in a Christian worldview; one that believes God is creator and that all knowledge is interconnected and points back to Him. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I believe in Christianity, as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” This is a great example of how all knowledge is viewed within the context of classical, Christian education. It can only be seen and correctly understood in light of who God is and what he has done as revealed in Scripture. Because all knowledge is from Him, it gives every subject value and purpose and can be taught in a way that glorifies and honors the Creator.