If you’re thinking about implementing a classical education model into your homeschool, this article is the perfect place to start. Learn what it means to use this form of education, its pros and cons, and about classical homeschool curriculum and resources.
In this article, you’re going to learn about the classical education model. Here’s what we’ll cover.
- You’ll learn what a classical education method is and how you can use this approach to homeschool your kids.
- The pros and cons of a classical education approach.
- How to find a classical academy near you.
- Where to find classical homeschooling curriculum.
- How you can teach a faith-based or secular classical homeschool curriculum.
In addition, you’ll discover helpful videos that will help you better understand the classical education model so you can make an informed decision about your child’s education. Also, you’ll find a HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast episode about classical homeschooling near the bottom of this page.
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What Is a Classical Education Model?
In brief, classical education is a traditional learning model rooted in ancient Rome & Greece. Educating your children classically includes extensive reading of The Great Books and study of the Seven Liberal Arts. The seven liberal arts include grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. The classical education model is designed to cultivate virtuous and wise human beings who seek the truth and know how to think and what to do.
Classical Education & The Socratic Method
Classical education began in ancient Rome & Greece with philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, & St. Augustine. As a result, a classical education method utilizes the Socratic Method. When using the Socratic Method, the teacher asks more questions than they answer. By using this method, you can help your child or student learn how to think.
While a classical method of education has roots in ancient history, it still has value as an educational philosophy today.
“Today, classical education is synonymous with ‘authoritative, traditional and enduring.’
The teaching of ancient Greek and Latin languages and literature endures, but the designation ‘classical’ has been broadened to include languages and literature beyond Rome and Athens that uphold the virtue of ‘excellence.’
Educators today define classical education as an education that teaches the best of the West.”Brandon McCoy. Classical Education: An Attractive School Choice for Parents. July 29, 2021. Manhattan Institute. Accessed March 10, 2023.
The Seven Liberal Arts & The Great Books
A classic educational model is a methodical approach that focuses on two main components.
Varying Definitions of The Great Books
Please note that the terminology, The Great Books, can be used in two different ways.
- The Great Books can reference a very specific collection that Encyclopedia Britannica produced.
- Great Books can also refer to various books that modern-day scholars agree are the essential foundation of literature in Western culture.
Either way, a book must be important to Western Culture to be considered one of The Great Books.
Learn more about joining The Great Conversation & reading The Great Books of Western Civilization.
Classical Academic Press
Video: What Is Classical Education?
Dr. Christopher Perrin
What Are the Seven Liberal Arts?
The seven liberal arts are made up of grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy.
The three stages of the trivium include grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
- Grammar. The rules of a language.
- Logic. A proper or reasonable way of thinking that is based on truth.
- Rhetoric. The ability to communicate well through the written or spoken word.
The quadrivium includes geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy.
- Geometry. The oldest branch of mathematics includes distance, shape, size, and space around objects.
- Arithmetic. The basics of math include adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, raising powers, and the extraction of roots.
- Music. Understanding rhythm, melody, and harmony to appreciate or create vocal or instrumental sound.
- Astronomy. The study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, and galaxies.
The Word Trivium Has Two Meanings In This Article
In this article, we talk about The Trivium in two different ways.
- Above, we’ve described The Trivium as it relates to the Seven Liberal Arts. The Trivium used in that sense refers to grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
- Below, we describe The Trivium as it equates to the Three Stages of Learning. The three developmental stages of learning are the elementary, middle, and high school years.
Hopefully, we’ve cleared this up before it was too confusing!
The Trivium: Three Stages of Learning
A classical model of education is a three-stage process of learning.
- Grammar Stage: 1st-4th grades.
- Logic Stage: 5th-8th grades.
- Rhetoric Stage: 9th-12th grades.
“Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind.
- The early years of school are spent absorbing facts and systematically laying the foundations for advanced study.
- In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments.
- In their high school years, students learn to express themselves.
This classical pattern is called the trivium.“Altered slightly. Susan Wise Bauer, What Is A Well Trained Mind? June 3, 2009. Well Trained Mind. Accessed March 11, 2023.
Memoria Press: Video with Martin Cothran
A Classical Education: Forming Wise & Virtuous Students
“That’s what all schools did.
They did classical education up until the early 20th century.
Schools were trying to form wise & virtuous students.
They were trying to teach them how to think and what to do.”Martin Cothran. What Is A Classical Education. August 21, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2023. Memoria Press (YouTube video).
The Pros & Cons of a Classical Method of Homeschooling
On the surface, a classical learning model seems amazing. However, this method may not be a good fit for some kids. For this reason, we suggest thoroughly exploring your options for homeschooling and considering your family dynamic along with your children’s learning styles and temperaments before deciding how to approach homeschooling your kids.
Pros of a Classical Education Approach
If your child completes this style of education, your child will have a well-rounded education.
- Emphasis on core subjects, including an intense study of history.
- Produces strong readers, writers, and speakers.
- Vast study and reading of classical literature.
- Math, science, and music are core components of classical education.
- The study of Latin, foreign languages, and fine arts are incorporated into a classical education model.
- Conversation and critical thinking skills are well-developed.
- A classical curriculum is designed to help children develop good moral character.
- This is an excellent approach for kids who love academics.
Cons of a Classical Education Method
- This can be a difficult model for children who learn better by doing and moving.
- A classical education approach may need to be adjusted for kids with special needs.
- This style may be too rigorous for some kids.
- Children may develop a disdain for learning if they are pushed too far beyond their abilities.
- A classical education model is teacher-driven and may feel overwhelming to homeschool parents.
Video with Homeschool Mom: ToriAnn Perkey
This video by ToriAnn Perkey is helpful in understanding the pros and cons of classically homeschooling your kids.
Notes on the Classical Education Learning Model
Understanding a classical liberal arts education model is helpful as you homeschool your kids. While you may not use this approach throughout your child’s homeschooling years, you can integrate components of a classical approach into your child’s education.
The HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
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HSTT Parenting Podcast Episode About Classical Education
You can listen to this episode about classical homeschooling on the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast.
Faith-Based or Secular Classical Education Curriculum
If you’re interested in pursuing a classical liberal arts education, you’ll quickly discover that most classical curriculum is rooted in Christian principles. This might be a great fit for people who want a Christian curriculum. However, you’ll face a few more challenges if you prefer not to purchase a Christian-based curriculum.
Whether you are planning to use a religious or secular classical education plan, we suggest starting with The Well-Trained Mind. In this book, you’ll find faith-based and secular recommendations. Please note, it is not possible to have a classical education that is truly secular because history is based on many Christian principles.
If you want to use a secular classical education model in homeschooling, you’ll look for secular curricula that include all aspects of the Seven Liberal Arts and a study of The Great Books.
Classical Homeschooling & Education: Books for Parents
Below you’ll find a combination of books, websites, and online programs for classical education and homeschooling.
- Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline by Laurie Bluedorn.
- Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.
- Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum by Laura M. Berquist.
- Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer
- The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers.
- A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century (The Leadership Education Library Book 1)by Oliver DeMille.
- Timeline of Classics – Historical Context for the Good and Great Books by Gail Ledbetter.
- The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise.
Classical Homeschool Curriculum for Your Kids & Teens by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
Susan Wise Bauer is known for her expertise in classical education. Her book, The Well Trained Mind, was written to guide parents in implementing classical homeschooling.
- The Complete Writer by Susan Wise Bauer.
- First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.
- Jesse Wise. Curriculum related to classical education.
- The Story of the World: Textbooks, Workbooks, and CDs by Susan Wise Bauer.
- Susan Wise Bauer. Books and curricula related to classical education.
Classical Education Online Programs and Blogs
- Classical Academic Press
- Classical Conversations
- Classical Liberal Arts Academy
- Hillsdale College Free Online Courses.
- Memoria Press
- St. Johns College Reading List: A Great Books Curriculum.
- Veritas Press
The Great Books Reading Lists and Collections
- Great Books of the Western World Hardcover Collection by Mortimer J. Adler (Author, Editor), Clifton Fadiman (Editor), Philip W. Goetz (Editor).
- St. Johns College Reading List: A Great Books Curriculum.
Learn more about The Great Books here.
How to Find a Classical Academy for Your Kids
If you prefer to send your child to a Classical Education Academy, search your town, city, or state and type in “Classical Academy” or “Classical Schools.” If one is near you, you should find it fairly easily.
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