Classical Christian education is both unique and impactful in that it seeks to faithfully restore the most proven form of education ever developed. Although this is certainly a bold statement, classical education produced the greatest thinkers, leaders, and scientists in the Western world from the time of the Greeks until the late 19th century, including America’s founding fathers. From the heritage of America’s Ivy League colleges and classical day schools, leaders in every field continue to emerge from the model of classical education. Unfortunately, the purest form of classical education, which includes teaching a Christian worldview, had been lost in America until its revival in the early 1980s.
One may ponder if classical Christian education is still relevant today. The answer is an overwhelming, “yes, now more than ever.” Our world is accelerating as technological, cultural, and political forces reshape our daily lives. The subject matter and skills required in the market are evolving rapidly, yet thoughtful, articulate people are always in great demand. Those who are able to acquire new skills quickly and independently are highly sought after regardless of the field. Accordingly, Classical Christian education has a proven track record of producing these types of citizens throughout history.
In 1947, Dorothy Sayers, a pioneer in the revival of classical education, observed, “Although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think.” Beyond mere subject matter, classical education develops those skills that are essential in higher education and throughout the modern Christian life: independent scholarship, critical thinking, logical analysis, and a love for learning.
At Kingdom Prep, we encourage every student to develop a love for learning and to live up to their individual academic potential. This is achieved through the time-tested classical Trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Through the framework of the Trivium, classical Christian education is characterized by rich exposure to the history, literature, and culture of Western Civilization. Our goal is not to teach students what to think, but rather how to think, encouraging wisdom and biblical thinking in every aspect of life.
Corresponding roughly with the elementary school years, the grammar stage is the first phase of the Trivium. During this stage of development, young students are characteristically most able to memorize the many facts and particulars of each subject area. For example, students learn and memorize the grammar of math (addition and subtraction facts, multiplication tables, the ordering of time and money); geography (mountains, rivers, state capitals); science (formulas, definitions); history (wars, kings, dates); and so on.
As students progress in their understanding to the middle school years, they then proceed to take the facts and knowledge accumulated in the grammar stage and begin to identify and develop relationships during what is known as the logic stage. Students analyze how the many pieces of what they’ve learned affect one another, as well as learning the art and science of reasoning through the laws of logic (formal & informal) and correct argumentation.
In the third and final phase of the Trivium, a primary focus shifts to students learning to express themselves in a winsome manner. As the natural Trivium progression from knowledge to understanding to wisdom occurs, students take the subject matter analyzed and mastered in the grammar and logic years and effectively communicate/apply this information to life during the rhetoric stage.
The three stages of the Trivium described above- grammar, logic, and rhetoric – are the methodological framework of the unique and effective education that Kingdom Prep provides.
In short, classical Christian education results in a two-fold set of academic guiding principles: to integrate God’s word into the curriculum and to capitalize on the Western liberal arts tradition. Students gain Christian wisdom and training in classical eloquence, uniquely equipping them for leadership and positive change in the modern world.
How does a classical Christian approach to education compare to others?
Classical Christian Education
|Original documents / whole books based||Textbook-based|
|Education for formation||Education for information|
|Development of critical thinking – “Why?”||Development of correct procedures – “How?”|
|Emphasis on the true, good, and beautiful||Emphasis on politically correct|
|Integrated interdisciplinary learning||Fragmented and disjointed learning|
|Appreciation of Western Civilization||Questions regarding Western Civilization|
|Latin taught as a core requirement||Latin taught as an elective, if available|
|Humanities and fine arts emphasis||Techno-rational emphasis|
|Requires the student to learn how to learn||Requires the student to learn how to pass tests|
|Mastery as working to one’s fullest potential||Mastery as measured by test grades|
|Lifelong love of learning as the ultimate goal||Graduation as the ultimate goal|
|Christian – recognizes Jesus Christ as Lord||Secular – avoids any type of religious discussions|
|Parents have significant involvement||Teachers as primary educators|
At its core, classical Christian education can be simplified to the following:
- The Aim: To cultivate wisdom and virtue so that the love of God may abound more and more.
- The Method: To show the interconnectedness of all knowledge through the contemplation of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
- The Tools: The Trivium, classical books, art and music, integrated curriculum, and idea-focused instruction.