History of Classical Education
Classical education has inspired great thinkers beginning with the Golden Age of Greece and the Roman Empire. It influenced great kings and reformers of the Middle Ages and philosophers and artists of the Renaissance. It galvanized the Pilgrims and our Founding Fathers in their determination to build a new government. Today, we see the influence of classical education in every academic discipline including science, politics, mathematics, art and astronomy. It is a method of education that has proven itself for the over two thousand years.
What is Classical Education
A Classical Education follows the trivium or a three pronged approach to learning (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric). These three stages follow a child’s natural ability to learn as he or she grows and develops. Classical education works with the grain of a student’s natural learning ability and allows each student to reach their full potential. At Covenant, we believe that a classical education is the best way to cultivate every student’s God-given desire to learn.
The Grammar Stage
Young children are particularly gifted in memorization. The Grammar stage involves teaching students the grammar or the language of every subject. During these early years, teachers take advantage of their student’s natural abilities by building a strong foundation and teaching the rules or basics facts in all academic areas. For example, in science, children memorize facts about nature. In math, children memorize times tables. In Latin, teachers emphasize vocabulary. Covenant uses memorization, chanting and singing to help students enjoy the learning experience.
The Logic Stage
As a child matures from grade seven (7) through nine (9), he/she becomes naturally adept at argument. This is why preteens and early teens begin to question authority. Classical education capitalizes on this natural developmental stage and teaches students in this phase to argue well. The study of formal logic helps students understand the fundamentals of a good argument. Practice in making written and oral arguments helps to further develop these skills. Logic enables them to assimilate the facts they learned in the Grammar Stage into a more thorough and cohesive understanding of their subjects and to arrange their thoughts in a rational and meaningful way.
The Rhetoric Stage
Once a student has obtained a knowledge of the facts (grammar) and developed the skills necessary to arrange those facts into arguments (logic), he must develop the skill of communicating those arguments to others (rhetoric). Classical education helps students develop their minds to think and articulate concepts to others. Students have now honed their Socratic skills of asking questions and questioning answers, enabling them to engage the dominant ideas of past and present cultures Writing papers, researching, and orating ideas are skills required in all subjects. Covenant Academy leverages all of these skills through the final requirement of the defense of a senior thesis.
Over 50 percent of English vocabulary comes from Latin. Training in Latin gives the student a better understanding of the roots of the English language and lays the foundation for learning other Latin-based languages. For centuries Latin was taught as the basis for any good education; in fact it was taught in American high schools up until the 1940's. Latin is one of the many traditions that has long been cast aside in the name of progressive education, education that today focuses on the cycle of cramming, testing and forgetting data. Classically educated students begin to study Latin in the third grade and the benefits can be seen across all subjects including English, mathematics and the sciences.
Not Just Another Christian School
One of our most frequently asked questions by prospective families is, “Do you have a Bible class?” And while we answer yes to that question, classical Christian schools also know that a Bible “class” is not enough. The real power in a classical Christian education is in teaching all subjects through the lens of scripture and from a Christian worldview.
Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to use the Bible as a grid to teach our children all about life. The Christian faith uniquely challenges the faithful to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) In this way, students can address and impact their culture.
As Paul appealed to Athenians based on what he knew of their poets and gods, so classical Christian education will prepare students to address the people and issues of their times. Jesus said that loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). Classical Christian education is a time-proven way to accomplish this. Covenant Academy seeks to partner with parents to train students by way of the scriptures and the seven liberal arts.