Classical Christian Education
The Classical method is an ancient way of educating instrumental in bringing about some of the greatest minds of the world. The Classical model produced Aristotle, Plato, and the Apostle Paul. The reason for Classical Education's success is the process of teaching students how to both learn and love learning. Modern education styles focus on a rote memory style of student development that leaves students ready for the tasks memorized, but less equipped to handle new situations. While memorization can be a valuable tool, (especially in the Grammar stage) true education requires the ability to think and reason through new problems and new information. Classical Education is based on a system of development called the Trivium.
The Trivium describes a teaching process that parallels the development of children as they grow. It has three principle stages: Grammar (K-6), Logic (7-9), and Rhetoric (10-12).
The Grammar stage is used to describe the youngest of the students in classical education. This stage begins in Pre-K or K and continues on through the 6th grade. The focus during this time is memorization. God created young children to take in and retain significant amounts of information. Children will memorize dates throughout history, as well as tragic and amazing stories that have informed our cultures and our people for centuries. They also dive into grammar, mathematics, Bible, and Latin.
The Logic stage engages students around the ages of 12-15. It is during this time in life that children begin to ask some of the harder questions and challenge the formally accepted norms of life. They are no longer satisfied with knowing that something will happen, they also want to know "why?". It is where children begin to learn how to make decisions for themselves. During the Logic stage, children are challenged to defend their positions. They are taught formal logic, which helps them to discern the best ways to make decisions, as well as recognize the fallacies in the thought processes of others.
The Rhetoric stage is the final stage in the Trivium. It takes the information from the Grammar stage, the passion and opinions of the Logic stage and it gives the students the opportunity to share those thoughts through the written and spoken word. Rhetoric is, at its core, the art of speaking and writing well. Young adults have a natural desire to be seen and appreciated. We prepare the students to know how to present themselves and their ideas in the best possible way. This allows them to persuade their audience and defend their ideals.
Books for Further Reading:
The Case for Classical Christian Education - Douglas Wilson
The Lost Tools of Learning - Dorothy Sayers
Ideas Have Consequences - Richard Weaver
On Secular Education - Richard Weaver
Of Education - John Milto
On Christian Doctrine - Augustine
The Seven Laws of Teaching - John Gregory
Education, Christianity and the State - Gresham Machen
Why Johnny Can't Read - Rudolf Flesch
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning - Douglas Wilson
Repairing the Ruins - Douglas Wilson
Foundation of Christian Education - Louis Berkof & Cornelius Van Til
The Paideia of God - Douglas Wilson
Excused Absence - Douglas Wilson
The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis
The Well-Trained Mind – Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer
Classical Education – Gene Edward Veith, Jr. & Andrew Kern