Authentic classical education is an ancient Western cultural philosophy with roots dating back thousands of years to the classical civilizations of the Greek city-state, the Roman Republic, and Hellenistic Palestine. During the last twenty years, educators have interpreted and applied the idea of classical education in various ways ranging from a strict twelve-year, three-stage public school paradigm to an approach that emphasizes grammar, logic, and rhetoric as essential subjects of the home school and private school curricula.
My own interpretation of an authentic classical education reaches back in time to the ancient core foundation of classical teaching in which all learning revolved around acquiring knowledge for the primary purpose of understanding the meaning of life. With the help of experienced tutors and later monks, ancient and medieval students first acquired the preparatory skills for learning (language, logic, and rhetoric) so that they could then intelligently analyze, discuss, and apply significant ideas like how their understanding of the natural world related to theology.
Should this classical makeover persuade you to give your own kids an authentic classical education, your first task (birth to tween, ie. classical trivium) will be to give your children the tools for learning, and your second task (tween to teen, ie. post-trivium) will be to supervise the discussion and interpretation of ideas during the years that lead up to high school graduation. In practice, a real classical home education is quite simple and liberating in that you (1) teach three skills to substantial mastery and (2) supervise the exploration of meaningful ideas.
To further your understanding of an authentic classical education, complete the following “absorb, do, and connect” activities.
- Read Authentic Classical Homeschooling Primer
- Read Examine Your Zeal for Well-Trained Minds
- Read Teach Three Skills to Mastery
- Listen to Classical Skills, not Stages (5:33) on the trivium years (birth to tween)
- Listen to An Enlightened, Mature Mind (5:00) on the post-trivium (tween to teen) high school years
- Discover Scads More than Three Skills in this interactive tutorial (4:45)
- Play this word search puzzle with your child (4:18)
- Compare and contrast The Well-Trained Mind interpretation of classical education
- Read the text of Dorothy Sayers’ lecture The Lost Tools of Learning
- Read How Would Sayers Teach the Trivium?
- What happens Beyond the Trivium? Find out in this interactive tutorial (5:07)
- Complete a journal entry called My School Story (writeable pdf)
- Watch Joanna Hayes’ video montage Why Study History? (3:26)
- Chat with a friend and compare how your homeschooling philosophies differ
- On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highest, rate your personal appeal to classical education