What is Classical Education?
The acknowledgment of objective standards of correctness, logic, beauty, weightiness, and truth intrinsic to the liberal arts
A school culture demanding moral virtue, decorum, respect, discipline, and studiousness among the students and faculty
A faculty where well-educated and articulate teachers convey real knowledge using traditional teaching methods rather than “student-centered learning” methods
Uses technology effectively but without diminishing the faculty leadership that is crucial to academic achievement
BCSI reminds us that classical education is time tested and proven with a history of over 2,500 years in the West. It began in ancient Greece, was adopted wholesale by the Romans, faltered after the fall of Rome, made a slow but steady recovery during the Middle Ages, and was enlivened in the Renaissance.
The classical inheritance was passed to England and from England to America through colonial settlement. At the time of this nation’s founding, classical education was thriving. Jefferson heartily recommended Greek and Latin as the languages of study for early adolescence. Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans was often recommended by men like Jefferson and Franklin, and Hamilton seems to have given it special attention during his military encampment at Valley Forge. Eighteenth-century Americans venerated and trusted George Washington in large part because he reminded them of the Roman patriot Cincinnatus. So important has classical education been in the history of the West that it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that the march of civilization has paralleled the vibrancy of classical schools. Such a long tradition of education continues to be relevant today.
A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning. Classical education is
language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather
than through images (pictures, videos, and television).
This is important to understand because language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back”
and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get
back to work. Although the mind is working harder, any student, including ESE students
when needed, will receive differentiated instruction tailored to their distinctive learning abilities.
A classical education, then, has two important aspects:
It is language-focused, and
It follows a specific three-part pattern:
the mind must be first supplied with facts and images,
then given the logical tools for organization of facts,
and finally equipped to express conclusions, what a classical education deems The Trivium.
The reading program is an Orton Gillingham-based program developed by Access Literacy.