Why Classical Education? (redux)

One of the most common questions I get from parents thinking about classical home education is

“Why this? Why classical education versus what my children are already doing? How can you possibly do it, when you haven’t done it yourself?”

Last part first.

I read books.  No, seriously, I read widely and deeply. For example, when I assigned my eldest child The Odyssey, I read Wilson’s translation. I also read about education and classical education. Finally ready for a deeper dive, I read Norms & Nobility last winter.

Wisdom

  1. Reading comprehension is essentially a background knowledge test
    1. Classical education (AKA, a knowledge-rich curriculum) offers the most background knowledge. It’s the reason why studies show that the only curriculum shown to make a difference in test scores, all other variables held constant, is that at private order religious schools (not Catholic parish schools).
    2. Religious order schools offer a classical education, right down to classics departments that teach Latin and Greek.
  2. Classical education helps give students the ability to reason well and problem solve.
    1. Background knowledge helps increase problem solving skills.
    2. Your children will also build analytical skills:
      1. grammar (language analysis)
      2. math (proofs)
      3. composition (argumentative essays)
      4. science (scientific method)
      5. history (historical analysis)
  3. Being drawn into fake news like tree octopuses and terrible situations like cults is less likely because they’ll know about what’s real—AKA have a handle on truth.

Truth

This is the second good reason to practice classical education: your children will learn about truths and Truth.

What do religions believe?
How does that impact culture?
What are the underlying philosophical issues impacting our world today?

When you start at the beginning and blend in religious studies and philosophy, you begin to see patterns in how those arguments play out over time, and you can spy when threadbare, defeated arguments pop up again in pretty new guises. All that is old is new again. 

Beauty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so, therefore is curriculum. However, I don’t see anyone suggesting we should throw out the decimal system merely because it’s old! Likewise, I suggest that the idea of the seven liberal arts, the knowledge, skills, and abilities understood to free your mind, should also be given respect and their beauty honored. The details may vary in the implementation, but the underlying ideas remain.

“What we call civilization – the accumulation of knowledge which has come to us from our forefathers – is the fruit of thousands of years of human thought and toil … it is by right the common heritage of all.” —Robert Tressell via Ben Newmark

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