Classical Education is the age-old method that produced many educational "giants" like Aristotle, Newton, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson, among others. You can't pin one precise recipe for Classical Education, since of course the Greeks and Romans didn't all do the exact same thing, or even label their educational method as "Classical," for that matter. But they did have a common goal. It was not the mere development of the intellect, but also that of producing virtue in their pupils and influencing their conduct. Students were taught to think for themselves and become life-long learners.
Classical Education involves teaching children is based on their stage of cognitive development: Grammar, Dialectic, then Rhetoric. Most educators today would define those stages as something like this:
- Grammar - Grade school students absorb lots of facts, laying the foundation for future study
- Dialectic - Middle school students begin questioning and evaluating the facts, and learn to think through arguments
- Rhetoric - High school students apply what they've learned by making arguments themselves through speech, writing, etc.
Interestingly enough, what we call "Classical Education" today isn't necessarily so. I recently read a great book showing the connection between Classical Education and the Charlotte Mason approach. I came to realize upon reading it that today's version of Classical Education (whether in schools or home schools) may be an attempt to replicate doing what classical educators did rather than getting to the heart of why they did it. This actually matters a great deal, as it can result in the modern version no longer remaining true to the original purpose.
Let me explain.
Classic Education began with Rich Literature, Not Rote Memorization