Why classical education tops all the rest
Classical education goes beyond reading books by dead authors, and it needs to make a comeback in public schools.
There is an automatic assumption that classical education is simply reading the classic books. It is not. First, its scope goes beyond just literature, it encompasses a specific method and philosophy that benefits students greatly. If I were to describe classical education as briefly as possible, I would say that it teaches the child as a whole, with a focus on consistency, discipline and virtue.
Classic education is divided into three stages (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). Each stage is designed to meet children where they are developmentally and cognitively and each stage builds on the previous, so there is a purposeful focus on assuring that the child has comprehended each stage. Some techniques, which modern education has deemed antiquated, are very much present in classical education - memorization, repetition, dictation, and copy work, to name a few. Memorization early on allows children to then build their opinions after having learned the facts, dictation and copy work encourage proper penmanship and correct spelling besides sentence building. There are many advantages to these techniques and yet, modern education which has become increasingly child-led has let go of these tried and true methods to the detriment of students everywhere.
Few education philosophies are more insistent than the classical method on teaching critical thinking and reasoning to children, the trivium is designed to do exactly that, where the second and third stages, “logic” and “rhetoric”, prepare children to spot poor reasoning and logical fallacies later on in life.
The cultivation of virtue from a young age along with the admission that objective truth does indeed exist creates adults that have a completely different mind frame than today’s children educated in modern schooling philosophies. Modern progressive education is a disintegrated journey with no common thread uniting all instruction; whereas in classical education events are orderly and activities are related to each other, giving the student a broader understanding of the world and his place in it.
Susan Wise Bauer, a historian, and a household name in classical homeschooling circles approaches classical education as an “intensely focused pattern of study that encourages the student to relate everything he studies to himself, to measure the cultures and history of other peoples against his own experience; and that’s exactly what classical education fights against, a self-absorbed self-referential approach to knowledge”.
This committed pursuit of all that is good, true and beautiful, will originate a love for learning that is everlasting and immune to modern
In my next post, I’ll refute common arguments from public school educators/advocates against classical education.