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What is the Classical Tradition of Education?

Jesse blog

Education in ancient Greece aimed at the formation of free individuals who were in control of their own thoughts and feelings and who loved to search for beauty and truth in all areas of life and the world. We get our modern word “school” from the Greek word scholé which means “leisure time spent in contemplation, study, prayer, celebration or worship.”

In contrast to this tradition, today’s prevailing models of education have their origin in Prussian educational reforms during the 1800s. These were inspired by the factories of the industrial revolution and ideas of mass production. They had the goal of creating a national workforce for a growing industrial state, and American educational reformers such as Horace Mann brought these ideas and practices to public schools in the United States. Even with the work of later school reformers such as John Dewey and the current quest for technological solutions in the classroom, American public education has continued to focus on “large-scale” and “efficient” responses to personal and human needs.

Our classical tradition of education at Logos Academy keeps us focused on the development of the most important human capacities within each individual student. We love the whole and diverse human story and what it means for each child in our school.

So how does this classical tradition look in our classrooms?

  • Teachers use the natural love of children for song, movement, and story to encourage wonder while teaching basic skills and giving their students a rich treasury of information about the Bible, science, world geography and folk stories from many cultures.
  • Our curriculum map integrates the curriculum horizontally from year to year, with students covering the entire human story twice between kindergarten and graduation. We also integrate horizontally across subject areas at each grade level. For example, second grade students investigate Nile River flood patterns, create models and give reports to their classmates, using the human story to integrate across earth science, history, and writing.
  • All students master critical thinking and conversation skills through exercises such as debate and Socratic dialogue where they are regularly expected to ask creative and meaningful questions.
  • Our middle school students parse Latin sentences while they learn about the roots of modern languages such as Spanish and English and gain valuable self-discipline as students.
  • We teach math and science at all grade levels as a great story of collaborative problem solving across time as well as a way to showcase God’s glory throughout creation.
  • All students spend time enjoying and imitating great works from the visual and performing arts (in music, poetry, painting, sculpture, digital design, and theater).
  • Our high school students study logic and rhetoric as they master writing, communication, and presentation skills. Their education culminates in a senior thesis project where they share research and deliver a constructive challenge to our learning community before school board members, community partners, and peers.

We are grateful to have you partnering with us in this exciting venture. To learn more about the classical tradition of education, consider some of these resources:

  1. A Student’s Guide to Classical Education: One Student’s K-12 Journey by Zoë Perrin
  2. Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans
  3. The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer
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