Classical Education is a method of teaching children according to their developmental stages of learning, which correspond to the aspects of the Trivium, that is grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The Trivium has been around since the Middle Ages, but also find its roots in Ancient Greece. Classical Christian Education, however, is educating children in the Trivium with a distinct Christian worldview.
While modern education seeks to put the child in the center of all their learning, Classical Christian Education sees that God is the center of all learning. It recognizes that all truth is God’s truth, and that one cannot fully distinguish truth and error without understanding God’s truth as revealed in the Bible. Everything should then be examined through the lenses of Scripture, as it relates to God and His revelation. Children need not be shielded from the plethora of opposing philosophies and harsh realities of life. Rather, they need to be grounded firmly on the Word of God, which will then arm them with the grid whereby they can sift through different ideas that will come their way.
N.D. Wilson, son of Classical Christian Education proponent Doug Wilson, wrote this excellent piece on how to train children in his book Notes From The Tilt-The-Whirl:
The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.
I truly believe that Classical Christian Education will give children the tools to do just that. Children will learn how to acquire information (grammar), how to think critically (logic), and how to communicate with clarity (rhetoric).
Francis Schaeffer once said about education:
If Christianity is not just one more religion, one more upper story kind of thing… then it has something to say about all the disciplines, and it certainly has something to say about the humanities and the arts and the appreciation of them. And I want to say quite firmly, if your Christian school does not do this, I do not believe it is giving a good education… True Christian education is not a negative thing; it is not a matter of isolating the student from the full scope of knowledge. Isolating the student from large sections of human knowledge is not the basis of a Christian education. Rather it is giving him or her the framework or total truth, rooted in the Creator’s existence and in the Bible’s teaching, so that in each step of the formal learning process the student will understand what is true and what is false and why it is true or false. It is not isolating students from human knowledge. It is teaching them in a framework of the total Biblical teaching, beginning with the tremendous central thing, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It is teaching in this framework, so that on their own level, as they are introduced to all of human knowledge, they are not introduced in the midst of a vacuum, but they are taught each step along the way why what they are hearing is either true or false. That is true education. The student, then, is an educated person.
Classical Christian Education is where knowledge and virtue converge. But ultimately, the goal is for children to recognize and treasure truth, goodness, and beauty, to the glory of God.
Learn more about the Trivium and Christian Christian Education from these valuable resources:
- “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers (Article)
- “What Is Classical Education?” by Classical Academic Press (Article)
- “Why Choose A Classical Christian Education?” by Veritas Press (Article/Video)
- “Why Classical Education?” by Circe Institute (Article)
- Homeschooling with the Trivium by Trivium Pursuit (Articles)
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (Book)
- The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson (Book)
- Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education by Douglas Wilson and Marvin Olasky (Book)
- Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans (Book)