Dissatisfaction with public education in the U.S. has become so widespread that it is now rather too obvious to note that the Covid-19 pandemic provoked a great parental reconsideration of where their children attend school.
As families are seeking new options, one unique alternative is experiencing something of a renaissance: classical education.
This style of education has roots reaching back to the time of Plato and Aristotle and came into maturity during the Middle Ages. Classical education is grounded in the liberal arts, the great-books tradition, and the history of Western civilization, and it is oriented toward pursuing truth, goodness, and beauty. While some opponents argue that classical education is too aligned with conservative politics, its aims are not motivated by or perfectly aligned with any particular political ideology or movement: teaching students moral virtue, forming their character, and helping them understand the human person and the world in which we live.
The three stages of classical education, also known as the “trivium,” are grounded in the developmental stages of learning. The grammar stage covers kindergarten through sixth grade, teaching the basics of reading, math, and English grammar, considered the building blocks for advanced learning. Seventh through ninth grades constitute the logic stage, addressing students’ growing interest in “why” questions and using reason to explore truth and facts. The rhetoric stage covers grades ten through twelve, using the knowledge and skills developed in the first two stages to help students conduct independent critical thinking and practice persuasion through writing and speaking.
“Classical education is like a very large museum with many beautiful, wonder-filled rooms that could be studied over a lifetime”: That is how the Classical Academic Press website puts it. “It is precisely this kind of education that has produced countless great leaders, inventors, scientists, writers, philosophers, theologians, physicians, lawyers, artists, and musicians over the centuries.”