What is Classical Education?
A classical education is rooted in the pursuit of things that are true, good, and beautiful. First and foremost, it is an education pointed towards the development of moral character. Classical educators utilize the great books, or classics, to drive discussion about virtues that should be pursued as part of a life lived well. A classical education involves the study of Latin to cultivate a thorough and holistic grasp of the English language, and to best interpret the true meaning of the classical texts being read throughout a student's schooling.
Classical education is delivered through a teacher-centered classroom. It rejects the ideas of student-centered learning, group projects, and digital devices as a primary means of content delivery. A teacher who is an expert in their subject is the best medium by which students can receive the rich classical curriculum. Classical teachers create a sense of wonder in their students and utilize discussion and Socratic questioning to draw students toward conclusions about both the lesson at hand and truths about the world at large.
Classical education is also referred to as an education of the whole child; mind, body, and spirit (or character). In a classical model, students not only pursue virtuous character and rigorous academic standards, but are also highly encouraged to become involved in extra curricular sports and activities. At the youngest ages, we understand the importance of regular times of play between intensive studies. As our students mature, the values and lessons that can be learned through team sports and competition also play an important role in the complete classical education.
A classical education produces students who leave their formative years with a love of learning and an understanding of the pursuit of knowledge as a lifelong goal. Students enter the world with a more full understanding of who they are, what they love, and that there exists in the world absolute truths that do not change with the tides of culture and politics.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
Sequence of Study
Classical education mirrors the developmental stages of children. In the early grades (or grammar stage) children are inquisitive, eager learners, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. In these grades (k-5), students learn facts through song, recitation, and rhyme. Students will learn phonics and in grade 3 begin the study of Latin. This stage of learning focuses on the acquisition of facts, setting the stage for more advanced study.
The next stage of learning, known as the logic stage (grades 6-9) leverages the questioning nature of teenagers and begins examining the more advanced topics of study. Much of the instruction at this level utilizes questioning techniques, especially Socratic style instruction. The use of story telling becomes more prevalent in the classroom as well, especially in the history classroom.
Finally, as students approach graduation, they enter the rhetoric stage. In the final phase of a classical education, students apply the sum of their acquired knowledge through persuasive writing and argument, culminating in a senior thesis. This pattern of learning is known as the trivium. It has been around for thousands of years and was long considered the foundation for all subsequent learning.