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5 Points of Classical Education

Updated: May 21

 

Modern education focuses on knowing facts and acquiring skills with the explicit practical purposes of getting into a good college or having a good career. While these are not bad goals, and may often be the result of a good classical education, the goal of classical education is to lead students toward wisdom and virtue by deliberating on the purpose of being a good human.


Classical teachers and curricula show students how to discern and understand timeless truths as opposed to what is bound by time and culture. When students study connections among classical literature, history, science, philosophy, logic, and theology, they recognize the themes, struggles, and virtues that transcend time. Modern curricula react to the current social political climate and teach students that truth varies with individual perspectives. The result is a heightened and false belief that truth is bound to historical and cultural situations. At Telos Classical Academy, we teach that there are truths and virtues which do not bend and sway with the passing of time.


Trivium is a Latin term meaning three roads (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and it is the primary method of learning any new subject matter. When you master the trivium, you are ready to take on higher learning because you have learned how to learn. Modern education often asks students to compose and create (in art, writing, etc) before they have learned the fundamental rules or have copied the masters enough to know how to create something new. Most modern curricula focus on teaching content but lack tools that teach students how to learn something new on their own.


While a student can progress through each stage when learning something new within a single grade level, these stages can loosely be applied to a child’s overarching development as they move from 1st grade to 12th grade.

 

Even if scheduling logistics requires subjects to be separated, classical education emphasizes the continuity and interrelated nature of all knowledge. Writing, reading comprehension, and art are important while observing and documenting similarities and differences around us. Arithmetic and numbers are used when telling time, buying and selling things, and computing similarities and differences. Modern education treats subject matter as distinct topics and does a poor job of integrating and making connections between them. Classical education by definition and necessity is interdisciplinary.

 

Students must demonstrate mastery in a topic before progressing to the next level in difficulty. They must also do their best work for the work to be complete. If student work is sloppy, shows inaccuracies or is incomplete, it must be redone. If a student has shown insufficient mastery of 4th grade, they cannot move on to 5th grade. Modern education prioritizes a student’s emotional feelings when allowing him/her to progress to the next grade level despite an understanding of the work and intellectual readiness to move on. While a student’s emotional readiness is a factor we consider when determining a student’s grade placement, their intellectual ability and readiness comes first.

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