What is a Classical Education?

Did you get a good education? How about your children or grandchildren? What’s the key to a good education? I don’t believe we’re all on the same page. ◊

I had an opportunity this past month to attend the year-end “graduation” ceremonies for 3 of my grandchildren – one graduated from Pre-School, one from Kindergarten, and one from 2nd Grade. These ceremonies were all conducted at the same school here in the Silicon Valley. 1

It was adorable, of course. And very, very, impressive.

With no judgment toward the public education I myself received in Southern California, nor the public education my own 3 children received here in Northern California, I have to say that the world would be better served if all children received the type of Classical Education that this subset of my grandchildren have been privileged to experience here in San Jose, California.

What is Classical Education? What difference does it make? And what does it have to do with the Bible?

Simply put, a Classical Education is based on great ideas, great books, foundational truths and principles, and enduring traditions and skills. In our modern era we have referred to this as broad-based study of liberal arts and science as opposed to a practical or pre-professional study program.

Most of us don’t make these choices until we are fortunate to select a college or university. For instance, I attended a liberal arts college before attending graduate school. My grandchildren are getting a deliberately focused liberal arts education while in their primary education years (K-12). At a Christian-based school, yes, they are getting their education immersed in training of the Bible, which one of our modern US Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, said was essential:

  • “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a College education.”
  • “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Roosevelt himself was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate at Harvard College and also studied law at Columbia Law School. Even the famed politician, Daniel Webster, one of the most highly regarded courtroom lawyers of his time who served as a US Senator and as Secretary of State under 3 presidents, made a statement that would be veritably scoffed at by many in today’s culture:

  • “Education is useless without the Bible.”

Do not scoff, but rather be amazed at the value and impact that such a noble, good, and uplifting education brings to a young child in their formative years.

The Purpose of Education
At the opening of this precious graduation ceremony of these little ones, the school’s head administrator flashed on the screen several quotes that put education and its purpose in perspective:

  • “The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” – Plato (The Republic)
  • “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle
  • “The center of classical education is to love goodness, truth and beauty, and at the very core of a classical education is God.” – Charlotte Mason (British educator)
  • “Fathers (and mothers) bring your children up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” – Paul (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Truth is defined by Him, and knowledge of all things comes from Him. (Anonymous)
  • “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” – Paul (Philippians 4:8)
  • “To learn six subjects without remembering how they were learnt does nothing to ease the approach to a seventh; to have learnt and remembered the art of learning makes the approach to every subject an open door.” – Dorothy Sayers (writer and poet)
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” – Solomon (Proverbs 1:7)
  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – John, Apostle (3 John 1:4

Therefore, the purpose of education is to teach and prepare children in true wisdom and knowledge. God is in the mix as the source of all knowledge. As noted at this school’s website, the “classics” at the core of a classical education are the great works of art, music, literature, history, and science. Studying the classics through the lens of God’s Word equips students to make decisions and judgments rooted in Biblical morals and provides them with discernment when considering profound ideas, including those that directly clash with Christianity. 2

A Sound Foundational Structure +
History reveals that the foundational structure that is used in lower-level classical education is called the Trivium, a term coined in the Middle Ages to connect what was laid out in Plato’s ancient Greek dialogues. The Trivium incorporates three progressive stages of learning in the development of a child:

  • Grammar (K-6th)
  • Logic (6th-9th)
  • Rhetoric (9th-12th)

The kids here are being taught the language of reason, metaphor, and analogy. Then they will be taught the structure of science and art, and then overlaid with intellect and verbal skills in the  presentation of ideas, debate and communications.

Standard fare for a solid education. What’s different here is that weaved into the entire curriculum is a respect for and honoring of the Bible as Holy Scripture, the Word of God.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

Apart from that, public, private or home school education can produce highly educated young people equipped for the adult world, if not necessarily a practical job or profession quite yet. But the common disjointed fragmentation of topics, courses, and teaching tracks common in a secular education ultimately leaves our children educationally unfulfilled. Without the integration of a sound understanding of real Wisdom, Truth and Purpose as presented in the Bible, the Scriptures that surpass all human documentation and literature, our children miss the daily opportunity for Godly character development, moral clarity, and to “love what is beautiful” as dictated by the Triune God, the Creator of all life and beauty.

Fortunately, great Christian home schooling materials for children and proactive parents are available for those unable to participate in wonderful schools like Calvary Christian Academy.

Are your children or grandchildren getting a good Classical Education?
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth…” – Jeremiah 9:23-24

1. Calvary Christian Academy, San Jose.
2. Calvary Christian Academy, website: http://calvarychristiansj.org/about-us/the-cca-story.

Categories: Abundant Living, Devotion, Faith, Family, Marketplace, Parenting, Purpose

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1 reply

  1. Enjoying very much and learning great things from several posts! 😊


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