Why is a Classical Education useful?

In today’s postmodern and fragmented world, a classical education is more relevant than ever before. A classical education, by design, encourages students to seek truth, to desire goodness and to appreciate beauty.  This approach, developed in antiquity, has been the preferred method of education by the world’s most successful and long-standing educational institutions precisely because it develops in our children the ability to think broadly, to question with discernment, to reason soundly, and to act with integrity.

The use of a Classical Christian approach to education supplies students with a traditional Christian knowledge base and the academic means to defend, share, and represent their faith in today’s modern world.

What is a Classical curriculum?

A classical education is an approach to education which also defines its curriculum.

The classical approach emphasizes the cultivation of wisdom and virtue as equal goals of education. Together these lead to a well-ordered soul. Classical education teaches students to discern those things which are true, good, and beautiful; to distinguish what is superior and what is inferior and to prefer that which is superior.

A Classical Education views the Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade journey as having three distinct stages (Trivium):  Grammar (K-5), Logic (6-8), and Rhetoric (9-12). 

The three stages correspond with the natural phases of child development:

  • The focus of the Grammar, or input stage, is on supplying students with ideal moral and academic models. 
  • The Logic stage emphasizes providing students with the logically sound processes so that they may develop discernment and an analytical approach to the world around them. 
  • The final stage, Rhetoric, acts as the output stage.  Continuing to develop their critical and analytical skills, students become rhetoricians, thinkers, and creators who graduate as young adults prepared to participate in their communities as engaged citizens and Christians.
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Grammar Stage, K-5

    Instruction at the Grammar stage parallels the child’s natural development from ages 5 until 12. During this input phase, students are supplied with beautiful models from literature, music, art, history, Orthodox life, and the natural world in order to nourish their growing souls and minds.  Led by students’ natural wonder and individual curiosities, the Grammar School classrooms are places of discovery and lively discussion-based learning.  Through this engagement and mimetic practices, including memorization of classic poetry and psalms, computation fluency, cursive penmanship, and attentiveness to grammar and phonics, students acquire a knowledge of the structure of language and the world around them.

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    Logic Stage, 6-8

    The function of the Logic stage (ages 12-14) is to learn the principles of right reason to develop students’ ability to think well.  In the Classical paradigm, right thought depends upon the application of formal logic and reasoning in the creation of well-ordered thinking and arguments.  The propensity for argument at this stage of life is well met by the objectives of the Logic stage, as it guides students’ development of discernment as they begin to more independently navigate the world which surrounds them.  Building upon the foundation of knowledge developed during the Grammar stage, students develop their composition skills as they write with increased style and accuracy and begin to participate in Socratic seminars. They further pursue studies in mathematics through algebra and establish strong foundations in the physical and biological sciences.

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    Rhetoric Stage, 9-12

    The Rhetoric stage (ages 15-18) engages students in artfully expressing their own ideas about the knowledge base they have come to understand through the science of logical and well-ordered thought and discourse. Students are given opportunities to develop and perfect these skills through a curriculum which enriches the maths, sciences, historical and literary studies through a study of rhetoric, apologetics and ethics. This methodology prepares students to engage in abstract thought and exploration. The culmination of the Rhetoric stage is the point at which students in Twelfth grade are cognitively able to synthesize the scope of their content studies and apply effective analytical principles as they navigate the obtuse world beyond the classroom.