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What is Classical Education?

By Hannah Atwood

Classical education goes beyond simply being a method of pedagogy. It is a method which fosters a lifelong love of learning through the cultivation of wisdom and virtue, critical thinking skills, and a deep study of true content. This form of educating students is not widely practiced due to its stark difference from public education. The content is richer, the meaning is deeper, and the results are greater than a score on a test or even a degree. No, classical education goes beyond the superficial learning of facts and brevity of reading snippets of mediocre literature. Classical education dives into historical events, scientific facts, mathematical proficiencies, and deep literary works that guide the learner through the age-appropriate levels of the trivium and quadrivium.

This form of learning is of the utmost importance in a culture of education that is focused on passing a standardized test in order to go from grade to grade with the goal of no child being left behind and everyone going to college. We must not teach our students simply to regurgitate facts, but to deeply understand what is being taught by teachers who excel in their disciplines. Classical educators set an example of excellence and demonstrate a love for learning that is contagious. As a teacher, and a parent of young children, I find myself passionate about the future of those who get the opportunity to learn classically. For these children will become adults of not only intelligence, but virtue and truth. The Manhattan Institute defines Classical Education as “classical schooling [which] insists that the purpose of education is to cultivate a mind pursuant of truth.[1]” I cannot think of a more meaningful task than to equip the future generations with minds that are pursuant of truth.

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