What is Classical Education?

One of the first questions prospective parents ask is what is Christian Classical Education and how does it differ from “traditional” education. Classical education focuses on learning styles, content, and approaches that are attuned to students’ needs while traditional education often uses convenience and “social norms” as guidelines. In order to better explain the differences in classical and traditional education, we include the following charts adapted from two classical education journals. (See citations included for original sources).

Classical education is a conscious return to the ancient goal of education: teaching children to think and learn for themselves by imparting to them the tools of learning. It is an approach to education that is rooted in the ancient medieval concept of the Trivium. The Trivium is comprised of three basic tools of learning: Grammar (the tool of knowledge), Logic (the tool of reasoning) and Rhetoric (the tool of communication and expression).

The Trivium can be viewed as (1) An approach to subjects, (2) An approach to students, and (3) A set of subjects.

The Three Functions of the Trivium


Mastery of fundamental facts and rules; emphasis on core-knowledge, teaching the student to THINK

Elementary age - Concrete thinkers; information sponges; memorization comes naturally

Latin - The study of an ancient language that builds learning skills, develops English vocabulary, and enhances appreciation of classical culture


Mastery of sound reasoning and critical thinking skills; emphasis on comprehension, teaching the student to REASON

Junior High age - Beginning to think abstractly; growth of reasoning and analytical thinking abilities

Logic - The study of the science of sound reasoning


Mastery of communication skills; emphasis on expression, articulation, and application, teaching the student to PERSUADE

High School age - Abstract thinkers; interest in self-expression, communication, and creativity

Rhetoric - The study of the effective use of language in speech and writing