A classical education teaches children, through appropriate development styles, how to think and learn, not just what to know. Classical education is about equipping and preparing children for the future with what has been proven successful in the past.
The roots of classical education can be traced back to the Greeks, just before the time of Christ. As the gospel spread around the world, the early Christians developed a teaching method that continued through the early 1920’s.
The classical emphasis is built upon a three-fold approach called the Trivium. The three foundational categories are named Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric and each respond to the three basic stages of a developing child.
The Grammar Stage
The students, ages Pre-K through the elementary school years, learn the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. This stage emphasizes the structure of things, such as what the parts are called, how they are put together, and how they work. Since younger children enjoy singing, chanting and reciting, this stage capitalizes on those activities to teach the basic structure and function of words, numbers, scientific principles, etc.
The Rhetoric Stage
Students in the rhetoric stage (grades 9-12) are in a natural stage of self expression and are strongly individualistic. They are taught how to give proper expression to their thoughts. Clear self-expression is very important at this stage, which emphasizes essays, speech, mock trial and debate. The student who is classically trained will be able to express their thoughts convincingly with eloquence and clarity.
By following the path of development that children naturally take, classical schooling teaches "with the grain" and equips students to master the art of learning. The three stages are a reflection of what the Bible refers to as knowledge leading to understanding and understanding leading to wisdom.
The Dialectic (Logic) Stage
Students in the logic stage (grades 6 - 8) study formal logic and argumentation. This stage emphasizes the use of concepts learned in the first stage, such as the principles of language, math and science, and applies those principles toward problem solving. Students at this age have a natural tendency to be argumentative, which if channeled properly, will enable them to think and draw their own conclusions based on facts. This age enjoys challenges, puzzles and questioning, all of which helps them become thinkers.