Christian Classical Education

Since Augustine Christian Academy is a Christian classical school, we think it is important to make sure all who are interested in attending here have an understanding of Classical Education. In addition to the charts provided above, the following synopsis or summary of Classical Education and its role (by Douglas Wilson) helps clarify some of the distinctions of Christian Classical Education.

“Classical learning is called ‘classical’ because future leaders have been trained in its methods for centuries. In fact, some parts of the classical curriculum have been around for millennia.

“Classical learning follows a particular pattern called the Trivium—which consists of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. The students learn the grammar of each subject (that subject’s particulars). They then learn dialectic, or the relationships of these particulars to one another, and then go on to learn rhetoric. That is, they learn how to express what they have gained in an effective and coherent fashion. The purpose of following this pattern is not to teach the student everything there is to know, but rather to establish in the student a habit of mind that instinctively knows how to learn new material when the formal schooling process is only a faint memory. The student is not so much taught what to think, but is shown how to think.

As Dorothy Sayers, points out in her famous essay The Lost Tools of Learning, the three stages of the Trivium match the development stages of growing children quite nicely. The very great value of this method is that it provides a rigorous education suited to basic human nature tested over centuries, rather that one developed from the theories of educational faddists.

Another significant part of the value of classical instruction is that it teaches students the rigors of logical analysis. Our society abounds in buncombe (Empty or insincere talk; claptrap); we desperately need to train people recognize it. This requires training in logic and the apologetics of Christian worldview thinking. Classical education supplies this in a way not seen elsewhere.

Third, the students learn that our culture and civilization is an outgrowth of the classical, medieval, and reformation world. Modern students must learn that our culture was not purchased for them by their parents at the mall. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, by reading old books, the student is protected against some of the sillier mistakes of modernity.

The task ahead of us is nothing less than the recovery of western culture. For this task, we do not all need a classical education. However, at least some of our children must receive such an education, for the good of all of us. Classical learning is ideally suited for the training of cultural leaders, and that is what we so desperately need.”

As Wilson states, part of Christian classical education’s mission is reclaiming the culture. To do this, one must be able to recognize faulty reasoning, to respond to specious arguments, to analyze, to think, to persuade, and to interact. Classical education is about studying great thinkers, reading their works, and responding to them. Christian classical education is about responding to them Biblically and viewing their arguments, and the arguments of the culture, through the lens of Scripture.

It is with the firm grounding in Scriptural truth and logical thinking that Christian classical education brings that students are equipped to do all things Gloriae Domini, or “for the glory of the Lord.” That is the mission of Augustine Christian Academy.