Over the years there have been numerous efforts to concisely define classical Christian education. It is challenging to briefly define something with such depth, breadth, and rich history. This week I came across several good one paragraph definitions that help us think about what we do at Veritas Academy:
- Classical Christian education (CCE) is a time-tested educational system which establishes a biblical worldview (called Paideia), incorporates methods based on natural phases of child development, cultivates the seven Christian virtues, trains students in reasoning through the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric), and engages children in “the great conversation” through the historical Great Books. (ACCS definition)
- Classical Christian education aims to cultivate virtue and wisdom in students so that they will live for the glory of God, flourishing as human beings and loving both God and neighbor. It pursues these goals through an ordered exploration of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful that is grounded in the liberal arts tradition and that forms students’ affections and the habits of lifelong learning. (SCL definition)
- Classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through the study of the liberal arts and the Great Books. The liberal arts are the universal linguistic and mathematical skills students need to excel in every area of life. The Great Books are the means by which we pass on the cultural heritage of the Christian West. A mastery of both is the best way to prepare a child for a life of wisdom and virtue. (Memoria Press definition)
- Classical education is like a very large museum with many beautiful, wonder-filled rooms that could be studied over a lifetime. It is a long tradition of education that has emphasized the seeking after of truth, goodness, and beauty and the study of the liberal arts and the great books. What are the liberal arts? They are grammar, logic, rhetoric (the verbal arts of the trivium), arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (the mathematical arts of the quadrivium). This approach to education also includes the study of Latin. The classical approach teaches students how to learn and how to think. (Classical Academic Press definition)
Each definition has its own nuance and emphasis, but all have common themes. All refer to the essential and integral role of our Christian faith in education. All point to the fruit of a classical Christian education –virtue and wisdom in the lives of students. And all three refer to the content of study –the liberal arts, “Great Books,” or the “great conversation.”
At Veritas, in this our 25th year, I am thankful that we are learning weekly how best to ground the education of our children in Christ and His Word, how best to grow our children in wisdom, virtue, faith, and love, and how best to teach the rich heritage of the liberal arts and the Great Books to our students.
Scott Taylor, Headmaster