Classical Christian Education: The Elevator Pitch

by Douglas Wilson

Thanks for asking. We are heavily involved in classical Christian education, but what do we mean by it?

logicBy classical we are referring to two things. First, our schools are built around a pedagogical method inspired by the medieval Trivium. The elements of that Trivium are grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. As Dorothy Sayers once pointed out, these three categories correspond very nicely to certain stages of child development. The elementary years line up with grammar, which we take as the constituent parts of every subject. Dialectic, or logic, has to do with the relationships of the parts, and students are naturally good at this in the junior high years. Rhetoric has to do with the presentation of this knowledge, once it is gathered and sorted out, and this corresponds to the high school years. So we begin with rote memorization, move on to categorization, and conclude with presentation. If we were to use biblical terminology, we could call them knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

The second meaning of classical has to do with our understanding of history. The kingdom of God must not be confounded with western civilization, but their stories are so intertwined that it is not possible to understand one without the other. When it comes to history, we do not want our students to be provincial, stuck in modernity. If all human history were a map, we want to teach them how to find the x that says “you are here.” This necessity affects the content of our curriculum.

rhetoricBy Christian we mean that we want all subjects to be taught as parts of an integrated whole, with the Scriptures at the center. We are confessing, orthodox Christians in the historic Protestant tradition. Because Scripture is central to us, this means that Jesus is Lord of Heaven and earth, and therefore Lord over the whole educational process. This of course means academic rigor, high standards, good moral discipline, and freedom from the arbitrary and inconsistent dogmas that are currently dragging down the government schools. But fundamentally, we would want to point to the fact that it means our schools can be places of forgiveness and joy—the only way anyone can come to understand the world.

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Online Seminars: Group Discounts

Churches, schools, homeschool co-ops, or just a group of friends can now take advantage of special pricing.

This is an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the best teachers in Christian and classical education – 32 weeks of live instruction, one hour a week.

Groups:

  • 5 – 9 participants………….10% discount per participant ($315 ea.)
  • 10 – 19 participants………..20% discount per participant ($280 ea.)
  • 20 – 29 participants………..30% discount per participant ($245 ea.)
  • 30 – 49 participants………..40% discount per participant ($210 ea.)
  • 50 or more participants…..50% discount per participant ($175 ea.)

Groups will register under one name and receive one access number for the class. 

So grab a few friends (or 100 friends) and enjoy one of these live online seminars together.

If your school has contracted with Logos Press as its Sole Source curriculum provider, you automatically qualify for additional discounts on seminar materials. For more information on Sole Source, contact us at 208-892-8074.

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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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A Message for Classical Christian Educators

From Dr. Larry Stephenson

Greetings,

I pray all is going well as you prepare for next school year; scheduling, hiring personnel, and ordering materials. As an administrator for over 25 years and the head of three small ACCS schools currently, I know the challenges of trying to put together a great staff and great courses for our students. I’m also privileged to be heading up Logos Press, the curriculum division of Canon Press. One of our primary goals is to help support classical, Christian schools all over the world by coordinating resources and connecting like-minded educators. We are thrilled to announce four new ways of doing just that.

1. DAILY ONLINE CLASSES
Logos Press is in the unique position of having access to many outstanding, experienced teachers. Thanks to today’s technology, we can help you provide your students with outstanding instruction in courses that wouldn’t be available otherwise. These live class sessions will meet every day of the school week for 45-50 minutes.

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  • Customized schedules: These classes are well-suited for ACCS students and schools. We will do what we can to customize classes in a way that best fits your students, and we can connect schools across the country in an online community dedicated to supporting classical Christ-centered education in a local school setting.
  • More opportunities for your teachers: Do you have part-time teachers that need a full schedule to meet their financial needs? Online teaching opportunities can give your faculty that flexibility. We’ll provide the training and the online classroom—all they need is a computer with a webcam.

2. LIVE WEEKLY SEMINARS for STUDENTS, PARENTS, and TEACHERS 
We also offer one-hour-per-week, year-long live seminars for teachers, board members, and upper-level students—taught by some of the brightest minds in the classical education movement: 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 (Often Ignored) Prerequisite to a Good Education

by Tom Garfield

Slowly and weightily, Pa said, “Miss Wilder, we want you to know that the school board stands with you to keep order in this school.” He looked sternly over the whole room. “All you scholars must obey Miss Wilder, behave yourselves, and learn your lessons. We want a good school, and we are going to have it.” When Pa spoke like that, he meant what he said, and it would happen. (Little Town On the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

“And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

The above verse is often used by Christian educators, and rightly so, to demonstrate God’s view of the kind of instruction children are supposed to receive, that is, a completely God-centered one. What isn’t pointed out often enough from this verse is to whom the imperative is given, that is, the father. Continue reading

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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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