Core Distinctive #2: Classical Education

A classical approach to education teaches your children how to learn, giving them the tools necessary to tackle any new environment with great success.

So what is classical education? How is it different than typical modern educational methods?

Classical education was the predominant educational model in the Western World from antiquity through the 19th Century, when modern education slowly began to supplant it.

The goal of classical education is to teach students how to learn, rather than how to attain a given level of competency in so many individual and disjoint subjects, most of which will be forgotten in time.

“The question is not—how much does the youth know when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

School Education, pp. 170-171

Classical education takes a different approach to subject matter. In classical education, subjects are viewed as the raw materials which the student will use to develop his or her mind. Furthermore, subjects are horizontally integrated with one another. So, for example, explicit connections between history and science and literature are maintained.

Classical education seeks to develop the mind, heart, and character of the student by teaching students to recognize and appreciate the good, the beautiful and the true. This is consistent with Paul’s admonition to the church in Philippians 4:8.

The program of study of the school arises from and is entrained to the natural developmental patterns of children. Early education emphasizes memorization and the accumulation of facts, the middle years emphasize logic, ethics and debate, and later years emphasize the creation and delivery of mature, coherent ideas in spoken and written speech. For more about the basics of classical education, see Dorothy Sayers’ essay “The Lost Tools of Learning.”

Modern education, on the other hand, makes little attempt to integrate across subject matter. Math is simply math, and has no bearing on logic, history or literature, for example. Similarly, self-expression is emphasized too soon in modern education (ostensibly to develop a student’s self-esteem and to foster creativity), to the detriment of the development of the mental faculties that will truly enable a student to express himself or herself. Books and studies from both secular and Christian authors repeatedly demonstrate the diminishing marginal returns of modern American education.

Continue browsing our Core Distinctives:

  1. Christian       2. Classical       3. Collaborative

 

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