Seeking to emulate and recreate the educational system that has been used for over 2000 years and produced some of the world's greatest thinkers, modern Classical Education is widely used by home educators who wish to give their children a solid, classical base.
Modern Classical Education, also often referred to as the Latin Centered Curriculum, tries to bring education back to its antique roots. According to Classical Educators, this method, which “seeks to faithfully restore the most proven form of education ever developed" (The Ambrose School), will help achieve academic excellence in our children, even if they are not extraordinarily gifted.
It was this type of education that produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers, e.g. Archimedes, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus and William Shakespeare. And wouldn’t we all want our own children to excel?
Inspired by Dorothy Sayers’ essay The Lost Tools of Learning, modern Classical Education divides learning into three stages known as the Trivium: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric:
During the Grammar Stage or Knowledge Level, which lasts from birth to the age of twelve, the child should learn mainly facts.
During the Logic Stage or Understanding Level, from ages thirteen to fifteen, our children should be taught the skill of reasoning. They learn to ask critical questions, analyze, evaluate, investigate and so on.
During the Rhetoric Stage or Wisdom Level, from ages sixteen to eighteen, the classical student learns to apply her logic skills. She learns to express her previously gained knowledge and understanding in compelling speech and writing.
Classical Education usually includes studying the antique languages Greek and Latin, as well as reading classic works like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in their original language. Using a Classical Education homeschooling method is very popular amongst Christian home educators, although there are some Christians who are vehemently opposed to this approach.
Pros and Cons
- Classical Education could be a great choice for home educators who want to give their children a solid, classical base
- This methodology is said to produce very literate, logical thinkers
- The Trivium follows the natural stages of child development quite nicely
- This method of education may be the perfect fit for children who love learning languages
- The emphasis on memorization during the Grammar Stage might be too rigid and limiting for your child (especially when he or she is highly gifted)
- Because of its focus on languages and history, Classical Education tends to be a bit weak on science
- If your child doesn’t like languages, this method is probably not the best for her, due to the Greek and Latin requirements
- The highly disciplined approach and intellectual rigor may be too restrictive for your child
- Facts, concepts and subject matter are introduced to students in a random manner and often at an age when they aren’t nearly ready for them. Should we really teach a first grader the basic concepts of atoms, for example?