What is Classical Christian Education?
For centuries, the greatest leaders and thinkers have been classically educated. As Susan Wise Bauer writes in The Well Trained Mind, “Classical education equips students to think clearly, to write and argue persuasively, and to understand where philosophies and ideas come from. I am convinced that men and women who are able to do this will always lead those who can’t.” The classical method inspires learning by appealing to students developmentally and engaging their minds. Our gifted teachers inspire students to investigate, contemplate, debate and pursue knowledge, resulting in a student who loves to learn and becomes a lifelong learner. Based on a child’s development, the classical model recognizes three levels of growth and development in a child’s thinking and learning: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. The three stages comprise what is known as the Trivium and can be compared to the Biblical terms knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Knowledge – The Grammar Stage (PK-5) involves the memorization of basic facts about a subject and is taught to younger children who naturally love to chant, recite, and memorize.
Understanding – Dialectic or Logic (6 – 8) is the study of argumentation and formal logic. The emphasis fits well with the middle and early high school years when young people begin to question, to challenge, and to test things themselves. The logic stage will teach them how to integrate facts into a coherent system that reflects biblical truth.
Wisdom – Rhetoric (9-12) is the phase in which a student learns now to express what he/she thinks in a manner worthy of the Truth. Obviously, rhetoric includes teaching speech, debate, essay writing, etc. Style and clear-minded expression are important.
All three elements are, to varying degrees, present at each grade level, but more emphasis, by necessity, is placed on the element that fits the student developmentally.
We are committed to teaching from a distinctly Christian worldview. By integrating the truth and context of scripture into all subject areas from the earliest grades onward, students are trained to always consider how the idea at hand, whether it be history, literature or science, aligns–or fails to align–with the Word of God. Biblical integration goes beyond the addition of a bible class to the curriculum. It requires the examination of all subjects in light of biblical truth.
Author Douglas Wilson states, “Education is more than being equipped to read Plato, J.S. Mill or Jefferson. It involves teaching students to think about what they read. But thinking should include determining whether the author in question was right or wrong–and that involves commitment to a standard of truth.” Students should see God’s hand and have His perspective as they view the subject matter that they are taught. They should see how certain subjects were developed from Christian thought and are interwoven with principles that reveal God and His handiwork.
Bible teaching and Scripture memory are essential tools at the school for laying a spiritual foundation and to demonstrate how Christian thought and academic subject matter are integrated. Most of the discussions of worldviews will be in the Logic and Rhetoric School grades, but teaching critical thinking, logic, and an awareness of current events in the Grammar grades builds the skills students need to evaluate and discuss worldviews.
In the Logic and Rhetoric grades, students will be taught to see what influences a person’s actions and thoughts and to recognize how worldviews are influencing our culture. Students at Toledo Christian are taught to look at our society differently: viewing it from a Christian perspective, recognizing that we are in a post-Christian era, and understanding that most of the influences around them are coming from humanistic and non-Christian worldviews. Students will be taught to ask of everything, “What are they really saying?” and “Is it true?” Teaching children how to think for themselves will also have the effect of sharpening them like arrows to be effective in the spiritual warfare for the cultural battles they will soon have to confront.