What's Different About Classical Education?

posted by Baker Galloway

Where do you turn if you're a conservative parent who wants to give your children an education founded on historic academic principles and delivered within the context of a Christian worldview? Well, if you're not a homeschooler, you may be interested in Classical Schooling. 

Proponents of Classical education often note that America's founding fathers were classically educated.

Proponents of Classical education often note that America's founding fathers were classically educated.

This is the second post in a series on different educational models. A school's vision for the purpose of education will inform the structure of the learning model, and every decision large or small that teachers and administrators make on a day-to-day basis. The scope of these decisions will include design of the school itself; and so it's critical that we as architects understand the educational paradigm of our school clients if we are to effectively deliver facilities that support their purposes. 

"Classical Christian education is an approach to learning that emphasizes biblical teachings and incorporates a teaching model from the classical education movement known as the Trivium, consisting of three parts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Classical Christian education is characterized by a reliance on classical works by authors such as HomerSophoclesPlatoJosephusDante, and Shakespeare, and an integration of a Christian worldview into all subjects. In addition, classical Christian education exposes students to Western Civilization's history, art and culture, teaching Latin as early as the third grade and often offering several years of Greek. Many schools have been marked by higher than average scores on standardized tests." Source: Wikipedia

Distinctives of Classical Education:

Brief: This was the only formal education model in Western Civilization until the early 20th century. All other models are derivative and founded on questionable grounds.

  • Rooted in Greco-Roman education
  • Integrated with Western Christian worldview
  • Adherence to unchanging values
  • Emphasis on development of moral character, ethics, cultivation of virtue
  • Pursuit of truth, goodness & beauty
  • High academic standards and student achievement

Below is a video series from Dr. Steve Turley that will give a more in-depth look at the classical model:

Impact on Classroom Design

Classical classrooms are sometimes organized around the Socratic teaching method, and in those cases it helps to reorganize the conventional classroom to be more conducive for group discussion. The Harkness method, is a teaching and learning method involving students seated in a large, oval shape (around a Harkness table) in order to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment with only occasional or minimal teacher intervention. The method is in use at many American boarding schools and colleges and encourages classes to be held in a discursive manner. Source: Wikipedia

Another impact on school design may be the use of traditional forms, materials and detailing that reference and pay homage to the classical education model's historic roots.

For more in this series:

» Why Do We Send Our Children to School?

» What's Different About Montessori Education?

» What's Different About Waldorf Education?