Classical vs. Contemporary Education


Modern/Contemporary Education

Christian Classical Education


Emphasizes look/say & whole language. Emphasizes mastery of the units of sound.


Student progresses from basal readers to popular trade books. Student begins reading great books as soon as he is able.


Emphasizes abstract concepts above rote learning of math facts, tables, rules, etc. Emphasizes mastery of facts, rules, tables, etc., as well as repetitive drills to make math processes habitual.


Explicit teaching of Bible is discouraged or prohibited. Emphasizes systematic Bible reading, study, and application.


Less emphasis on rules. Sometimes allows for inventive spelling. Rule-guided, prescriptive spelling. If it’s not right, it’s wrong.


Multi-cultural influences lead to ignorance of achievements of Western Civilization. Revisionism is often used to support vogue ideological agendas. Emphasizes history as having purpose because it is the work of God’s providence. Holds that our heritage should be understood, and unless at variance with Scripture, appreciated.


Emphasis on creativity and self-expression, as opposed to the more rigorous discipline of wordsmithing. Teaches student to recognize and use formal structures of persuasion and presentation (the science of Rhetoric).


Promotes expression of student’s own opinion, along with whatever reasons he may have for holding it. The end goal tends to be self-expression as opposed to discovery of the truth. Emphasizes real difference between truth and validity. Teaches student to identify fallacies of form and distraction – Logic as science.


Foreign languages are not required for non-native speakers and are taught only for practical or multicultural/diversity reasons. Latin is now virtually extinct and is viewed as irrelevant. Foreign languages are taught to develop intellectual discipline. Practical side-benefits are secondary. Latin is seen as a foundation for precise thinking, English vocabulary, appreciation of classical culture, et cetera.


Tendency is to bring books down to level of the contemporary student –books that will not overwhelm a limited vocabulary, cultural isolation, and a reluctance to read anything unfamiliar or difficult. Object is to bring student up to the level of great and classical literature, to teach appreciation for challenging books of all ages.