WHAT IS CLASSICAL EDUCATION?
A CLASSICAL DISTINCTIVE
"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts"
-- C.S. Lewis
Philosophy of Education
It is not surprising that such an important social domain as education has attracted the attention of philosophers for thousands of years, as there are many complex issues.
The purpose and process of education can be roughly generalized along two lines of thought: conservative and progressive. For the last few decades, the public school system can be characterized as increasingly progressive, as evidenced by the Common Core State Standards and facilitative instructional techniques. In my dissertation (Kobes, 2013), I documented the lack of progress in national and international achievement while embracing this philosophy. National Public Radio, which is not a conservative entity, described public school progress this way:
“Remember the movie Groundhog Day, where the main character wakes up every morning and realizes nothing has changed? He’s reliving the same day over and over again. Well that pretty much sums up the latest PISA results for 15-year-olds in the U.S. Their scores in reading, math and science have not changed since 2003.” (www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/03)
But evidence of successful teaching and learning is available. For example, Knowledge is Power Program charter schools are showing a nearly 100% success rate in teaching at-risk students (kipp.org), as well as other schools that are based on what I call common sense—not common core—principles. Those principles involve (a) commitment to high standards for all students—both academic and behavioral; (b) responsibility accepted by teachers, parents, and students; and (c) development of character. These principles have been shown to result in significantly higher achievement in schools, and therefore are foundational to our philosophy of education.
In Classical Education, formal education is a three-part process known as the Trivium, and while BLCA is not specifically classical, the importance of this stage as described below is acknowledged.
“The first years of schooling are called the “grammar stage” — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — what we commonly think of as grades one through four — the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.” (Bauer, 2009)
In addition and most importantly, for Biblical reasons our philosophy of education indicates a teacher-led classroom where children are trained in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). Children are not left to discover truth by themselves, feeling their way in the dark. The light of God’s Word is shed on each area of a child’s life—at home, at school, and at play. The task of education is the teaching and learning of God’s truth, and a proper study of all subject matters will harmonize with God’s Word.
Contrary to some publicity, classical-conservative-traditional education does not have to be boring or tedious. Indeed learning should and can be fun for students and teachers alike. Our philosophy of education holds that education is one of the greatest times of life, and we cherish the opportunity that we have to support parents in loving, nurturing, instructing, training, and leading their children.
- Dr. Susan Kobes, Superintendent