What is Classical Education?
Classical Education is a systematic yet rigorous process that develops a student’s ability to think critically and deeply about a subject. Its roots are in the pursuit of objective truth and is the process of connecting varying types of information to come to a higher understanding or mastery of that subject. Ultimately, Classical Education develops the skills needed for analytical problem solving and life-long self-learning.
Originating with the Greeks, the “paideia” (the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis) of the ancients referred to the process of forming an enlightened mature mind. Unlike today, the paideia was not concerned with preparing students for the workforce. Learning was to lead to the mental discipline required to discuss abstract ideas like goodness, truth, beauty, and justice.
Adopting the Greek idea of classical education, the ancient Romans created a system of study called the “seven liberal arts” which were divided into two phases. Beginners mastered the three skills of the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) before moving on to the quadrivium.
Trivium - The Verbal Arts (The Humanities)
1. Grammar (language)
2. Logic (reasoning)
3. Rhetoric (debate and composition)
Quadrivium - The Mathematical Arts (The Sciences)
1. Arithmetic (number in itself)
2. Geometry (number in space)
3. Music (number in time)
4. Astronomy (number in space and time)
(Later - literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, history, art, and languages; Great Books)
This method of education persisted and was further developed during the reign of Charlemagne while additional framework was added during the Medieval period. Classical learning crossed the Atlantic to the New World and was the primary method of education until the 20th century when the expanding population looked to institutionalized public schools to educate the masses of children.
As state schools grew more secularized and educational standards fell, parents began to look back to our classical educational roots for an alternative. Not until the resurgence of home-schooling in the late 20th century did we see a beautiful and timely "rebirth" of education that was both Christian and Classical.