What is Classical Education?
- Dorothy Sayers
Classical education is the return to a structure and methodology of learning that includes academic disciplines and a curriculum which produced the great cultural flowering of Western Civilization over the past one thousand years. Classical learning follows a traditional educational pattern called the “Trivium.” This pattern consists of three successive stages, to wit, grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
This stage is from kindergarten to the sixth grade. Its focus is on the fundamentals of language, history, math, science and the arts. It is upon the knowledge of these disciplines that later information must be anchored. For example, the classicallan guages of Greek and Latin are included as well as the analysis of “who, what, where, and when,” at a time when memorization of facts is easy and fun.
During this stage, which begins in the middle school years, concepts of formal and informal logic are taught in order to build upon the student’s greater reasoning ability and increased desire to ask questions about the information gathered during the Grammar Stage. The student begins to recognize logical relationships among facts and no longer sees the latter as two separate pieces of information. The analysis of “how” and “why” is developed here, enabling the student to differentiate between sound and fallacious thinking.
This stage, corresponding to the high school years, synthesizes the information acquired during the Grammar Stage and the reasoning skills developed during the Dialectic Stage. It is here that the student progresses from merely understanding concepts and arguments to the ability to present them persuasively. The student now learns that eloquent expression is as important as logical content. During this period, the student may begin to concentrate on areas of personal interest in preparation for the “Quadrivium,” when natural abilities will lead to specialization in mathematics, the sciences or humanities.
A student who has been afforded a classical education at Geneva Academy will have acquired the formal knowledge, mental discipline and thinking skills necessary to tackle the difficulties associated with any area of specialization. Since learning is a life-long pursuit, the true goal of the classical education at Geneva Academy is that of learning to learn for oneself.
For more information on the methods and philosophy of Classical Christian Education, please visit:
Why Classical Education? by Fritz Hinrichs
Classical Education (by Douglas Wilson)
How To Get the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer
(Note: These links are provided to help expand your understanding of Classical Education. While all attempts are made to insure the correctness and suitability of information on the sites, no guarantee can be made as to the correctness or suitability of that information or any linked information presented, referenced, or implied. Inclusion of a website on this Links page does not imply full scale endorsement of the site’s products, services, or content.)
Resources to read for more information on classical education:
The Lost Tools of Learning, by Dorothy Sayers
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, by Douglas Wilson
On Secular Education, by Robert L. Dabney
The Classical Tradition, by Gilbert Highet