A Look at Classical, Christian Education – Part I

This blog post is written by CPLS Senior Ellia Morse.

What is the value of a Classical Christian education, and why should you choose this education for your children? This blog post introduces a monthly series on the goals of classical education and how they are accomplished at Cair Paravel. 

The classical, Christian education model begins with kindergarten and continues through senior year of high school with the purpose of raising students who are committed to serving Christ. Classical education cultivates virtue, introduces students to the Great Conversation by reading the great books, and develops life-long learners. Rather than theology being limited to Bible class, each subject is taught with a biblical worldview as the foundation of the class’ content. Just this month, rhetoric school math teacher Mr. Seidel began this conversation through a presentation to the student body on the goals of classical education.

It is a modern notion that education should develop employable skills. However, classical education returns to the original goal of education: to cultivate virtue. David Hicks, one of the foundational writers of the modern classical, Christian education movement, writes in Norms and Nobility that “The purpose of education is not the assimilation of facts or the retention of information, but the habituation of the mind and body to will and act in accordance with what one knows.” Since we can only know virtue in reference to Christ, education at Cair Paravel seeks to help students know Christ better and live a fuller life. This is “the life of virtue…the life that knows, reveres, speculates, and acts upon the Good; that loves and reproduces the Beautiful; and that pursues excellence and moderation in all things.” 

The stages of classical education are based on the medieval structure of education, which was divided into grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music. Today, the Trivium structure, divided into the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages, seeks to teach virtue and develop well-reasoning students according to each stage of children’s development, while recognizing that all subjects are interconnected. Grammar school, which is equivalent to kindergarten through sixth grade, builds the foundation of knowledge through the memorization of facts, and encourages a love of learning through instilling a sense of wonder about God and his creation.

After students have a base of knowledge to draw from, the following logic stage promotes independent thinking, questioning, and discernment. Finally, the rhetoric stage teaches students how to communicate their ideas well. 

At Cair Paravel, students are not merely prepared for college or jobs, but are trained to be life-long learners who use their talents to advance the kingdom of God. This proves to be successful both in college and in life, as the majority of CCE graduates go on to serve the world in ministry, serve their community in trade and technical work and serve their peers in generosity of time, resources and talents. If you have a heart for the future of your children and their walk with God, come discover what makes CPLS an exciting partner in your journey.