Category Archives: Classical Education

The Biblical Basis for Education

by Tom Garfield

Please don’t immediately or unconsciously reinterpret the title above as “The Basis for Biblical Education.” There is a profound difference. (Also please note that I didn’t say “The Biblical Basis for Classical Education,” even though, without much effort I think that argument can be made, but that’s not my point here.)

So, what’s the difference? As always, it comes down to what we believe about the world. If we believe that ‘knowledge’, i.e. all the stuff we all need to learn, is somehow neutral, then Christians should just take a number and wait their turn for presenting a case for “Christian” education. However, if Genesis 1:1 is true — God really did speak the heavens and earth into existence — well, that changes everything. Literally every thing. Many years ago I was asked by a friend who was a university education professor to speak to his beginning education class. He was a Christian and knew what I did for a living, so when he said I had carte blanche on what I’d say, I was delighted. Continue reading

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What is Classical Education?

In the 1940’s the British author, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay titled The Lost Tools of Learning. In it she not only calls for a return to the application of the seven liberal arts of ancient education, the first three being the “Trivium” – grammar, logic, rhetoric, she also combines three stages of children’s development to the Trivium. Specifically, she matches what she calls the “Poll-parrot” stage with grammar, “Pert” with logic, and “Poetic” with rhetoric (see The Lost Tools Chart). At Logos, the founding board members were intrigued with this idea of applying a classical education in a Christian context. Doug Wilson, a founding board member explained the classical method further in his book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. Logos School has been committed to implementing this form of education since the school’s inception. An excerpt from Doug Wilson’s book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: Continue reading

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The Lost Tools of Learning

by Dorothy Sayers

That I, whose experience of teaching is extremely limited, should presume to discuss education is a matter, surely, that calls for no apology. It is a kind of behavior to which the present climate of opinion is wholly favorable. Bishops air their opinions about economics; biologists, about metaphysics; inorganic chemists, about theology; the most irrelevant people are appointed to highly technical ministries; and plain, blunt men write to the papers to say that Epstein and Picasso do not know how to draw. Up to a certain point, and provided the the criticisms are made with a reasonable modesty, these activities are commendable. Too much specialization is not a good thing. There is also one excellent reason why the various amateur may feel entitled to have an opinion about education. For if we are not all professional teachers, we have all, at some time or another, been taught. Even if we learnt nothing–perhaps in particular if we learnt nothing–our contribution to the discussion may have a potential value. Continue reading

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Differences Between Modern and Classical Christian Education in America

Thanks to David Goodwin and the Ambrose Group for allowing us to post from their booklet, “Discover Classical Christian Education, A Parent’s Essential Guide“. Visit the Ambrose Group website, A non-profit group dedicated to expanding the reach and influence of classical Christian education
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Modern Education

Democratic: Every student should attain the same level of achievement.

Multi-cultural: Critical of our Western cultural roots, strongly emphasizing imperialism, slavery and historic Christianity as “what is wrong with America”.

Naturalistic: Emphasizes math and science at the expense of art, literature, and history.

Secular: Holds the “spiritual” as personal and separate from education. Avoids deeper philosophical values. Continue reading

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Musings on “The Lost Tools of Learning” #1

– by Jim Nance

In her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Dorothy Sayers has identified for many classical Christian schools of our day an outline for a modern education following the medieval Trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. I am interested in what she says about Logic and the Dialectic Stage, and plan to occasionally post some thoughts about these and related topics. I will start my posts with a comment she makes that I have found helpful in my own teaching of Logic.

In describing a student of the medieval Trivium, Sayers writes, “Secondly, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument.” This short statement gives us what I have come to believe are the four primary lessons to be learned in a Logic class, and in the proper order.

First, the logic student learns about terms, which are the building blocks of statements. They learn what a term is, how terms differ from words, the methods and rules of defining terms, and how to use the tools that relate terms to one another, such as genus and species charts.

Second, the logic student learns about statements. They learn what a statement is, how to identify the different types of statements, how to relate statements to one another, and how to determine the truth of a given statement.

Third, the student learns “how to construct an argument.” Logical arguments are built out of statements, which are connected as premises to make conclusions. Students learn how to distinguish between valid and invalid arguments, what validity means, and why it differs from truth. Once they are able to identify valid arguments given to them, they learn how to construct valid arguments of their own.

Fourth, the logic student learns “how to detect fallacies in argument.” A fallacy is an invalid form of argument. They learn to identify not only the formal fallacies discovered by the rules of validity, but also informal fallacies such as ad hominem and post hoc.

Thus, Sayers has given us the outline of a complete introductory logic curriculum. I would only add that we should not limit our learning of the above to categorical logic, but include the tools of propositional (or symbolic) logic as well. Students should be given the powerful tools of relating symbolic propositions, determining the validity of propositional arguments, and learning how to construct propositional proofs.

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The Lost Crusade

by Tom Garfield

For more on Classical Education see Tom’s book, Dear Parents: Communicating the Christian and Classical Vision to Families.

Without doubt there was anguish. No parent with a heart of flesh could have borne their decision without much fear and trepidation. But the purpose was one with a higher calling – for most it was regarded it as “the will of God.” Therefore, though the parting was more tearful than joyful, especially for the mothers, the children went forth. The older ones, that is, those twelve years old and above, assured their parents that they would look out for the “little ones.” So, they marched off, the older ones herding the younger ones in groups of a dozen or more, their heads high, proud that their mission was one that God would undoubtedly bless. From across the entire country, hundreds of children, with their parents’ heart-rending acquiescence, responded to the call.

Continue reading

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