Sunday, September 29, 2013

“Classical” Education: what is it?

What you are about to read will no doubt create controversy as to whether Christian values have a place in the modern-day education of ‘the children.’

Fine.  But don’t let that distract you from the point about ‘classical’ subject matter.

The material we present here was passed along by someone we know in another state who sends their children to a private school affiliated with a Christian Church.  The full account of that schools’ theory of education can be found here:  http://www.tcsnj.org/WhatIsClassical

We are posting most of it here because we find it an amazing summary of what education is supposed to be about.  And we can’t help but wonder what our government school system espouses in the same regard. 

We’ll leave you to puzzle what Brunswick’s ‘children’ are getting for an average cost of $15,000 per year per student.  The private school referenced here charges in the range of $6,000 to $8,000 a year, depending on the grade level.  Or about half the price we pay in Brunswick, where we have “the very best schools and the very best teachers.”  At least according to Sally Sellit and the Mommy Mafia.

Here’s the description from this private school:

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.


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.

(The table included in their material would not post here in a direct form; so you’ll have to click on the link we provided to see it as originally presented in their material.)

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 committed Christians in their various callings.  All subjects are integrated and taught in light of a Biblical 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, Trinity Christian School students develop a thoroughly Biblical/Christian worldview and are prepared to be tomorrow's leaders, engaging the culture for Christ.

Most of the terminology used above was new to us, though we always felt we had a pretty good public education.  Given our age, it was based on the prevailing theory of the 40’s and 50’s.  We didn’t take Latin, for example, until 9th and 10th grade, when it was tough enough.  Could it be easier if you start on it in 3rd grade????

We hope you find this to be food for thought, Christian influences or not.  And that you think long and hard about the subject before the next budget cycle, when the pressure to spend several more million on annual operating budgets, and $25-50 million on new school buildings becomes unbearable.

      

We needn’t mention that the ruling elites have their own view of this discussion.

Technorati Tags: ,

6 comments:

  1. If public schools could interview parents and children and then decide whether to accept or reject them, public education would probably be less expensive, too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So you're suggesting that this doubles the cost of government education?

    The charter schools I know about take all comers, including special needs students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to the Wall Street Journal, charter schools enroll fewer special needs students despite non-discrimination requirements. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303379204577477003893836734.html

      Delete
    2. Well, Ms. Mall (ha ha!), it's good to know that in the future I can use a WSJ reference to substantiate any points I assert, and you won;t have a problem.

      You do have to want to go to a charter school...so that probably enters into the calculus.

      And how about your thoughts on the premise of the classical education model? My comment on the costs was secondary to the main point of the post.

      Do Brunswick schools follow the classical model, sans Christian components, or any other religion's components?

      You might also want to read this and give us a report on what it say; I haven't read it yet:

      http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/print/WSJ_-C001-20130928.pdf

      Delete
    3. If it didn't have a byline, I would swear that my husband had written it.

      Delete
    4. Ms. Mall: maybe he has a suede-o-nym, as my Dad used to call it, so he can keep the proceeds out of your reach.

      Delete