Classical Christian Education is a method of teaching that focuses on the whole person. This education not only academics, but also character formation.
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What is Classical Christian Education?
Classical Christian Education is a style of education that has been used for centuries. It is based on the Trivium and Quadrivium, which are the seven liberal arts. The Trivium consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The Quadrivium consists of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Classical Christian Education focuses on teaching the student how to think, not what to think.
The History of Classical Christian Education
Classical Christian education is a distinctive system of education based on the Trivium and Quadrivium. The Trivium is composed of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the Quadrivium, of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
This approach to education has its roots in the medieval university, which was itself modeled on the ancient trivium and quadrivium. Classical Christian education seeks to revive this time-tested approach for the benefit of contemporary students.
Grammar stage: In the grammar stage (typically grades K-6), students master the basic building blocks of knowledge—the “grammar” of their lessons in literature, history, science, Latin, and mathematics. Students learn through memorization and repetition at this stage, laying a strong foundation for more abstract learning in the later stages.
Logic stage: In the logic stage (typically grades 7-9), students begin to see connections between different pieces of information and to think more critically about what they are learning. Students learn how to identify flaws in arguments and to construct sound arguments of their own. This is the stage at which students begin to do serious research and writing.
Rhetoric stage: In the rhetoric stage (typically grades 10-12), students learn to express themselves clearly and persuasively in speech and writing. They hone their skills at articulating ideas and defending positions through thoughtful discussion and debate. This is also the stage at which students synthesize all that they have learned in previous years into a coherent worldview.
Arithmetic: The study of numbers and numerical operations.
geometry: The study of form, shape, size, spatial relationships, and properties of matter. music: The study of pitch, rhythm, harmony, and other aspects of musical composition and performance. astronomy: The study of planets, stars, galaxies, and other astronomical bodies.
The Benefits of Classical Christian Education
Classical Christian Education has many benefits. It has been shown to improve cognitive skills, to produce well-rounded and articulate students, and to instill a love of learning in its students.
Studies have shown that students who receive a Classical Christian Education outperform their peers on standardized tests and in other measures of cognitive skills. One study found that students in Classical Christian Schools scored an average of 31% higher on the ACT than their public school counterparts.
Well-Rounded and Articulate Students:
Classical Christian Education produces well-rounded and articulate students. In addition to strong academic skills, students learn how to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to work collaboratively. They also learn how to find joy in learning itself.
Love of Learning:
Field trips, experiential learning opportunities, and a focus on the arts instill a love of learning in Classical Christian Education students. Students develop a lifetime love of learning that extends far beyond the classroom.
The Challenges of Classical Christian Education
Classical Christian education has come under attack in recent years from many different corners. The most vociferous attacks have come from the so-called “progressives,” who view classical education as a form of elitist indoctrination. They argue that the traditional curriculum is racist, sexist, and homophobic, and that it is designed to perpetuate the oppression of marginalized groups.
Other attacks on classical Christian education have come from within the church. Evangelical critics argue that the focus on Ancient Greek and Latin literature is a waste of time, and that resources should be redirected towards more “practical” disciplines such as business or engineering. They also take issue with the way in which classical Christian schools often downplay the importance of biblical literacy.
Despite these challenges, classical Christian education remains popular among those who value its emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills, its commitment to academic excellence, and its ability to instill a love for learning in students.
Classical Christian Education in the 21st Century
Classical Christian education is a response to the modern day educational crisis. It is founded on the belief that God has given us minds to be cultivated, not just for utility, but for the joy of thinking and living well. It is an education that strives for excellence in both academics and character.
In order to achieve this, classical Christian education embraces the best of what has been handed down to us from previous generations while also adapting to the needs of 21st century learners. This means a curriculum that engages students in rigorous thinking, encouraging them to ask hard questions and grapple with complex ideas. It also means teaching them how to apply those ideas in their daily lives, so that they can be thoughtful and virtuous citizens of God’s kingdom.
The end result is an education that produces people who are not only knowledgeable, but also wise; people who are equipped to pursue whatever calling God has placed on their lives.