What is a Classical Education? | Eastern North Carolina Now | In history, the classical period includes the civilization of the Greeks and Romans who gave us classical art, architecture and classic languages of Greek and Latin.

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    In history, the classical period includes the civilization of the Greeks and Romans who gave us classical art, architecture and classic languages of Greek and Latin. Classical education is the authoritative, traditional, and enduring form of education begun by the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks gave us democracy and great treasuries of art, education, and literature. Greek children learned from classic literature, theology, and concentration on physical training.

    Classical educational was developed to teach students how to learn.

    "Give a man a fish and he eats a meal. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime".

    Historically classical education was based on "three developmental stages" called the "trivium" which include grammar, logic, and rhetoric. When children are astonished with the human tongue, they are taught the grammar arts of language, reading, history, math, and theology. When children are ready to challenge every assumption, we teach them logic arts including literature, history, ethics, and politics. When students are yearning to express themselves with passion, we teach them rhetoric, and the essentials of the development of debate and eloquently and persuasive speech. The trivium subjects are known as the "verbal arts". Later, four "quantitative" arts were added, astrology, arithmetic, music, and geometry. These seven arts together became the "liberal arts". An important aspect of the classical education was physical training. Greek children from age seven to fourteen attended gyms where they learned aspects of classical physical skills. These skills had an obvious connection to military training. Some young men from age 18 to 20 would undergo 2 years of military training that would prepare them to serve as capable military officers and soldiers. Another aspect of classical education was the recognition that a student is a person with a soul and a heart. Classical education is a virtuous education. We cannot shirk our responsibility to address and cultivate the spiritual and moral dimension of our students. I believe that we should examine decisions concerning the removal of prayer in our schools. I believe that we can and should allow student choice to "Meet at the Pole" and to pray before or after sporting events. These student expressions of their faith should not be demonized by individuals with a progressive view.

    Concentration on the classical arts results in remarkable outcomes. Students from classical schools typically score in the top 10-15 percent on national tests like SAT. Many believe that these students do well because the proven methods of classical education enable them to perform well because they have learned these classical "tools of learning" that benefit each student through subsequent stages of learning. I believe that school administration can have a dramatic impact on performance by applying these classical education process. I also believe that we can improve student performance by:

  • Recognizing and developing Classical Education concepts
  • Focusing on the student/teacher ratio
  • Ensuring that all teachers are properly certified
  • Ensuring that our teachers have some minimum level of experience, at least 3 years

    Finally, our American history has excellent examples of Classical education, because our founding fathers were classically educated.
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