What is Classical Christian Education?
Classical education belongs to the traditional and enduring stream of education started by the Greeks and Romans, developed by the Church through the centuries, and renewed by contemporary educators. Infused with the liberal arts and sciences, classical education includes the language arts of the trivium – grammar, logic, and rhetoric – and the quantitative arts of the quadrivium – mathematics, science, music, and visual arts. Students study great works of literature and art, both old and new, by methods best suited to their developmental stages. As participants in the great conversation of history’s finest thinkers, students acquire more than vocational skills; they prepare for their roles as informed citizens, thinking Christians, and virtuous shapers of culture.
Classical education was widely embraced in the English-speaking world until the early 20th century, when experiments with alternative forms of education began. The past thirty years have witnessed a resurgence in classical education across the country and a recognition of its proven excellence in preparing young people for college – and more importantly – for life.
Classical Benefits provides a summary of the benefits of Classical Christian education.
The classical method has an ancient pedigree and is based on a three-stage model known as the Trivium, which organizes learning around the maturing capacity of a child’s mind. In the Grammar stage, the focus is on acquiring the building blocks of information; students begin to think more analytically in the Logic stage; and learn to write and speak with force and originality in the Rhetoric stage. Although there are elements of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric in all of the stages, the primary focus of each stage is shown below.
|Stage||Biblical Equivalent||Primary Focus||Grades|
Grammar Stage (Kindergarten – 5th Grade)
Students learn the grammar – the fundamental rules and data – of each subject area. They learn how to read and write well, master basic mathematics, explore history chronologically from ancient to modern times, and marvel at God’s design of plants, animals, and the human body. Naturally drawn to chants, songs, and rhythmic verse, students at this level can learn an enormous amount of information, much of which is retained for a lifetime. Learning opportunities are enhanced by taking advantage of the natural ability of young children to absorb information. In third grade, students begin their study of Latin, which is essential to a fundamental understanding of English, history, and great literature.
Logic Stage (6th Grade – 8th Grade)
Early adolescent children have a tendency to contradict and argue. Their ability to draw conclusions on the basis of facts begins to develop. Building on these abilities, Socratic methods of teaching foster inquiry, discussion, and debate, with an emphasis on reason and analysis. During these years, students study formal logic and begin to apply logic to all subject areas. Students learn to think clearly, to synthesize information across subject areas, and to debate in a respectful manner.
Rhetoric Stage (9th Grade – 12th Grade)
Capitalizing on a high school student’s need for independence and self-expression, skills are developed in applying and effectively communicating one’s knowledge and understanding of a subject. Students study classical rhetoric – the art of using language effectively and persuasively – and apply their rhetorical skills to all subject areas. Rhetorical training gives students the ability to persuade logically and passionately with integrity, and equips them to not only respond to our culture, but to actively engage and influence it.
Throughout all stages, we strive to help students develop a genuine love for learning and the desire to be life-long learners. We are committed to helping them learn to live as vibrant Christians in their various callings. All subjects are integrated and taught in light of a Christian worldview, the lens through which all of life’s experiences are seen and understood. We believe that an educational approach which confines faith to Bible class and chapel has already given up what lies at the heart of a Christian worldview. Through the integration of life and faith, Covenant students develop a thorough Christian worldview and prepare to be tomorrow’s leaders, engaging the culture for Christ.