“Classical education is also often referred to as liberal education. The ‘liberal’ in liberal education does not, of course, refer to a particular political party; rather reference is made to an educational focus which insists that the primary purpose of education is to free human beings from slavery to the mundane.” (Jonathan Beeson, What is Catholic Classical Education.)
Classical education seeks to educate students in a way that goes beyond test taking and worksheets. It strives to present students with information that is coherent, integrated, and is rooted in the history of the world, more specifically western civilization.
Classical education at the grade school level focuses on the three stages of learning that are developmentally appropriate to the elementary age student: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Although these stages tend to be broken into specific grades, we have seen that they naturally flow throughout all grades.
The goal of the grammar stage is teach the students the basic knowledge of the subject. For example, students learn English and Latin grammar as they learn the different parts of speech, conjugations, etc. They also learn the grammar of mathematics as they learn the basic concepts of numbers, sequence and logic. In history students learn the timelines of events and the major historical figures that were part of major events. Memorization and recitation is easily learned in this early stage. Students enjoy sharing what they have learned including poetry, famous speeches and facts. Once students have a foundation of the different content areas, they are given more depth and the “why” of the subject in the logic stage. This happens naturally when children begin to ask why. At this stage students begin to dig deeper into the subjects and are given the tools needed to sort out events and facts. Finally, students begin to argue or question what they have learned. In this last stage, the rhetorical stage, students learn to persuade, question, research and publically defend the topics they have spent their early education learning. This is an exciting stage that again, seeks to build confidence in the student and offers them the proper tools to seek and defend the truth using grammar and logic in their proper sense.
Throughout the journey of classical training students are given the gift of seeking the truth through the good and the beautiful. They are filled with wonder and awe at the mysteries of the world and the power of the Incarnation. This is done naturally with classical education because it to be three dimensional. Rather than learning bold printed vocabulary and monotonous facts from a text book, students are given primary sources, hands on activities and an overall holistic presentation of content that involves every part of the human person.
Tomorrow’s Wisdom begins Today with learning from the Wisdom of Yesterday.
The fruit of this education is abundant! We have Communities Rejoicing in the Truth and Students prepared for 21st century Leadership and Innovation grounded in the Wisdom of the Past.
The more you begin to learn how beautiful Catholic Classical Education truly is, the more excited you are to go deeper into the liberation of your own mind from the mundane.