When I first started homeschooling, I had never heard about Classical Education. I hadn’t heard of any homeschooling pedagogies for that matter!
As the years crept on…I started learning more about different methods of teaching and implementing curriculum. There was the Charlotte Mason method, the eclectic, traditional, Waldorf, unschooling etc… It was all very confusing. Then I came across the Classical Education approach, and I was hooked! It all made such great sense. I was already using a writing curriculum called Institute for Excellence in Writing and had no idea it was based on the Classical Curriculum philosophy.
I’ve always been drawn to the “old fashion” ways of life. One room classrooms with multi-ages (basically like homeschooling), reading, writing & arithmetic…family togetherness….simplicity. Of course Little House on the Prairie was my all time favourite show – still is!
Classical Education offers so much richness. It was easy for me to fall in love with it!
What is Classical Education?
Classical Education has 3 stages of academic development: Grammar, Logic & Rhetoric. Each stage is 4 years long.
Grammar consist of language skills; these early years are focused on how to speak, write and read the English language correctly. Memorization, copywork and grammar are introduced in this stage. It emphasizes concrete thinking.
Logic is the science of right thinking and analyzing; it studies reason as the tool of knowledge. It’s during these years that the student learns about all the world around them!
Rhetoric is all about verbal and written expression. There is a rich exposure to history, art, latin and philosophy. It’s a more abstract way of thinking.
So often I am met with students that sadly do not know their addition/subtraction facts, and we’re talking about older elementary ages. They can’t spell and they are missing the pieces to the fundamentals of primary education. Most schools today do not expect children to memorize facts anymore. The approach of whole teaching has crept into the school system. I completely agree that students must learn the whys and the hows of learning but they also need to know just HOW to do something. They need to memorize it and file it into their brain. For example: addition, how is a child going to go onto higher level math if they cannot even mentally compute 8+6 without using their fingers? These facts need to be automatic by the time they reach multiplication or division. Mastery needs to be implemented.
Memorizing poetry, speeches and scripture should be more important than navigating an iPad or computer. Copywork of great literature is fundamental to introducing rich language.
I truly believe that going back to the basics is what our education system needs to do. Studying great historical figures and philosophers provides such a grand repertoire. Children are like sponges and we need to fill their little minds with worthwhile information about the world around us.
In Part 2, I will talk more in-depth about the importance of memorization.