Revival Of Classical Education

Classical Education

The revival of classical education truly has been a grassroots movement that has included secular as well as non-Catholic Christian schools and homeschools. Many remarkable, reflective individuals have been inspired by looking back at the education of the past Greek, Roman, Hebrew, and Christian – and have been inventive in finding new ways to bring its blessings to today’s schools. They have come up with many related but different accounts to guide themselves and explain to others what they are doing.

Catholic classical education begins with a conviction that Christian civilization – which had its roots in the Hebrew world, was defined by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His disciples, and integrated the riches of Greco-Roman civilization – is full of truth, beauty, and goodness. Today’s ordinary education ignores this inheritance. Catholic classical educators immerse students in the Church’s 2,000-year-old history and culture. They seek to form graduates and faculty who have been nourished, inspired, and equipped by their inheritance so they may promote the message of the Gospel in our own time.

Classical educators also believe that we should learn the importance of formation in virtue from our predecessors. Traditionally, education was much less concerned with training and much more concerned with developing the moral, intellectual, and theological virtues. These virtues aim to perfect all the powers of the human person, from observation and memory to reasoning and expression. Awakening wonder — a sense of awe before all that is true, good, and beautiful — begins to affect the soul of the learner. Wonder leads to questions that uncover the meaning of things both visible and invisible.

Classical educators realize that all the areas of the curriculum — religion, literature, history math, science, music, language, art — contribute to awakening wonder, encountering wisdom, and developing virtue. Curricular decisions must be made according to this common goal, and not simply according to the dictates of individual disciplines. Methods of instruction are designed for active, not passive, learning.

Classical education believes that students should master the arts of language known as the Trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric), because they are the tools of clear thinking and powerful expression. These tools train the young for leadership in service to their communities. Classical education often includes Latin because it develops a deeper understanding of the structure of all languages, and because it is the universal language of the Roman Church as well as one of the primary languages of classical civilization.

Classical education also tries to preserve the spirit of the Quadrivium, seeing in the mathematical and scientific disciplines first and foremost an opportunity to make an encounter with Truth accessible to the young mind and to form the specifically human power of reasoning.

Classical education, through the seven liberal arts of the Trivium and Quadrivium as well as the sciences, lays the groundwork for the wisdom studies of philosophy and theology, which draw on all learning to address the highest questions of man, nature, history, and God.

The fruit of classical education is experienced within the schools themselves. Their common traditions and common loves make them authentic communities rejoicing in the Truth. Graduates are truly prepared for 21st century leadership, being grounded in the wisdom of the past, attentive to the reality of the present, and primed to innovate for the future. [ref. ]