What is a Classical Education ?

Classical education is a liberal arts education rooted in ancient history. “Liberal”, in this case, means “free”. Classical education prepares young people to live in freedom and independence, engaging them in the highest matters and the deepest questions of truth, justice, virtue, and beauty. Academically, a classical education encompasses:

  • A content-rich, traditional curriculum, including the use of classical books and art

  • Concentrated study of the core academic disciplines: history, literature, mathematics, and science

  • An appreciation for—and study of—the visual and performing arts

  • A strong emphasis on language, literacy, writing, and mastery of the English language

  • Reading of the great books in literature and primary source documents in history

  • Socratic teaching by kind-hearted teachers who are subject matter experts

The Classical Learning Model

Classical education is a conscious return to the ancient goal of education: teaching children to think and learn for themselves by imparting to them the tools of learning. The goal is to promote the type of inquiry that ultimately allows students to discover for themselves that which is true and beautiful. It is an approach to education related to the classical liberal arts and sciences tradition of the trivium and the quadrivium. The trivium was comprised of three basic tools of learning: grammar (the tool of knowledge), logic (the tool of reasoning) and rhetoric (the tool of communication and expression). The quadrivium encompassed the sciences—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy—and added music and the arts. While Treasure Valley Classical Academy does not strictly adhere to this structure, our educational philosophy is informed by this approach to education and intellectual development. Of course, with advancements in knowledge and the sciences come updates to what we ought to know; hence, ours is a “classical education updated for modern times.”

Classical School Teachers

Classical education requires teachers who are trained in the academic disciplines (literature, history, sciences, mathematics, etc.). Just like many teachers, our teachers love to spend time with children, they are kind-hearted, and they know how to manage a classroom. But subject matter expertise is also required. Our vision is to foster a faculty that is academically gifted and in full pursuit of intellectual interests, because these habits tend to positively influence students who are by nature inquisitive and look for role models to emulate.

Benefits to Students

Classical education focuses on the art of living well, where career or college preparation are by-products and not the ends of classical education. The goal is virtuous young adults who live not with historical or cultural amnesia, but rather with a sense of who they are in the context of human history. We aim for our students to know the story of our country, and to read and write with facility. We believe that young graduates who are able to use their knowledge of the past to make good decisions in the present and plan wisely for the future, will be in high demand and prepared to flourish.

Classical education is sometimes called “leadership education” because it builds skills needed for leadership, like logic, debate, public speaking, clear reasoning, researching, writing, and communicating. These skills are practiced in every subject (mathematics, science, history, geography, Latin, fine arts, and more), which prepares students to become leaders in any field they pursue. Classically trained students are often well qualified for future studies in law, medicine, business, engineering, technology, theology or any other professional or vocational pursuit.

Additional Reading

Articles

Books

  • Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping the Nation, Gene Edward Veith, Jr.,/Andrew Kern

  • The Making of Americans: Democracy and our Schools, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

  • Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

  • Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong: and What We Can Do About It, William Kilpatrick

  • The Seven Laws of Teaching, John Milton Gregory

  • The Lost Tools of Learning, Dorothy Sayers