What is Classical Education?
Classical education is the process of training the mind in three parts - the early years of school are spent absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn the art of reason to think through ideas; in the high school years, they learn to express themselves.
This classical pattern is called the trivium:
Grammar teaches the fundamental elements and ideas of a subject.
Logic develops the mechanics of thought and analysis in a student.
Rhetoric trains the student how to use language to persuade a listener.
At Covenant Christian School, we believe strongly in the benefits of the Classical model. Lilah Rabe of Covenant Classical School, writes that a classical Christian education benefits students in many ways, such as:
A solid foundation in the fundamentals: Students develop strong language, math, and science skills through the classical approaches used in the grammar school.
Substantive learning: Young students soak up rich materials when we encourage them to do so. Whether it’s impressionist art in grammar school or great books like Milton’s Paradise Lost in upper school, detail makes subjects come alive for younger students and develops depth of thought for older students. So often, educators underestimate a student’s capacity to learn and therefore simplify subject matter through generalities, denying students the richness they deserve.
Ability to write and speak confidently and articulately: Even the best ideas go untried if they are not well-communicated. The ancient Greeks realized this and began the study of rhetoric. Students defend theses, engage in debates, study logic, and regularly practice the art of rhetoric – both orally and in writing.
Well-practiced minds: Students learn to make connections between ideas, learn to synthesize and communicate well, and immerse themselves in understanding the ideas of contained words like liberty, beauty, justice, and truth. They contemplate the various meanings for each idea as they read those philosophers, artists, scientists whose works formulate the ideas. Students sharpen their minds as they debate with the teacher and other students on issues of depth and importance. Practicing the mind results in students who are unusually thoughtful and can express themselves well.
Critical thinking: If a student were asked to read Plato, Virgil, or Augustine just because there will be a test on their content, the student would likely find them uninteresting. Instead, students read with a purpose. Like a treasure hunt, they are looking for the connections and development of ideas that span all great literature.
Self-control and personal diligence: The challenges of the classical approach develop healthy work habits which will serve students well for a lifetime.
Honor and character: Instead of just teaching typical “do and don’t” rules, our goal is to renew the minds of students to “Love the Good”. Whether by teaching students how to shake hands while making eye contact or by promoting a heart that desires kindness, not simply kind behavior, our desire is to build character in practical, real-life ways.
Deep friendships: The small class sizes and the depth of discussions in the classes creates an environment where students grow together.
A sense of purpose: As the great ideas of history are related to current world events, students are able to appreciate God’s willful work in the world around us and better understand His purpose for their lives.