Curious about a Classical Education?

I must admit, when I started to contemplate the idea of homeschooling, I didn’t know a classical education from a public school education. I could’ve easily confused Charlotte Mason with Dr. Seuss. I didn’t know whether I would be “unschooling” or “schooling” my children.  Once my friend, Mel, started explaining it to me, my interest was piqued.  I wanted to know more!

Susan Wise Bauer answers the question with the following:

Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.

After having my girls (Leiana, 13, and Jacy, 9) in public school for so long, I knew their education was missing something. It was almost as if they were missing a couple of pieces to a puzzle.. a very important puzzle. As a mother, I couldn’t allow them to continue working on an education that was missing pieces just like I wouldn’t let them continue putting a puzzle together when I knew some pieces were missing.

For me, a classical education is completely different than the public school model. A classical education consists of children gaining mastery of concepts to which they are exposed. I like to think that a classical education is a wonderful example of “if you USE it, you DON’T lose it”. Gaining mastery means more than reviewing a concept at the end of a lesson, module, or semester. It means retaining the information through college into adulthood by continuously reviewing the concept, practicing it, using it.

Our youngest daughter is in the “grammar stage”. A classical education allows for a child our daughter’s age to learn by retaining information. Memorization is key at this stage and thankfully, the brains of children in this age group can hold tons of information. For example, in our homeschooling curriculum (Classical Conversations) a 1st grade child would be required to memorize the 8 parts of speech and the definition (i.e.- a pronoun replaces a noun in order to avoid repetition) but they “logically” can’t put this information to use. They will just continue to recite the parts of speech and their definitions until they arrived at the logic stage (usually 6th grade). The premise is that once they get to the logic stage, they will already know the 8 parts of speech and the definitions, and can go straight into logically using them.

The same can be said for anything they will use later in life. When kids get into 6th, 7th, and/or 8th grade, they will learn how to calculate the area and volume of an object. Do you remember learning that? I remember being presented with ALL of the formulas, the definition of pi, the definitions of radius and circumference, and being expected to use them right away! Talk about difficult! A classical education allows for memorizing the formulas while they are at the “grammar” (read: memorization) stage so that when the time comes to actually solve a problem requiring the area of a circle, they’ve already memorized the formula and can concentrate on the execution of the formula.

A child in the Logic stage will be able to understand why it’s important to find the area of an object. But instead of having to learn the formulas, reason why it’s important, and complete the computation, all at the same time, classically educated students can concentrate on the “whys” and “hows” of the task at hand.

I am a first year homeschooling mom and have recently been introduced to the Classical Education model so I am no expert. Here are some websites that explain a classical education in more detail:

The Well-Trained Mind

The Benefits of a Classical Education

Classical Conversations: What is Classical Education?

Half A Hundred Acre Wood- A review of Classical Christian Education Made Approachable


If you have any resources that explain the Classical Education model, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

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