Classical Education

Freedom Classical Academy espouses a classical education pedagogy.  The classical approach is often used in high performing private schools, but seldom in public schools. The purpose of a classical education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom. In this sense, a classical education is transformative: it makes both the student and the teacher better through the learning process. At the heart of classical education is a simple question; What does it mean to be human? This question, posed thousands of years ago, has spurred an ongoing conversation that has extended throughout this entire time period. This conversation is referred to as the great conversation. As we study the great literary and artistic works of mankind with this question in mind, we prepare ourselves for meaningful engagement in this ongoing conversation.

The Trivium

The trivium consists of three stages or subjects: grammar, logic, & rhetoric. While there are many conceptions of these three subjects, Freedom Classical Academy interprets them as follows:

 

Grammar stage: This stage is marked by emphasis on the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills and is representative of kindergarten through fifth grade in particular.  The philosophical root of this stage is that knowledge builds upon knowledge and that in order to obtain greater knowledge one must first master basic skills. Instructional practices emphasized in this stage include direct or explicit instruction, memorization, and repeated practice. Once students have mastered basic skills and have a store of facts at their disposal, they are ready to move to the Logic stage.

 

Logic stage: In this stage students are asked to use their knowledge and skills to evaluate the work of others. This is not to say that students do not continue to obtain knowledge, but that the emphasis changes from accumulation of knowledge to application of knowledge. Through Socratic seminar, essay and application of logic, students analyze and evaluate texts and information. Instructional methodologies emphasized in this stage include Socratic seminar/shared inquiry and student research projects in addition to the continuation of methods utilized in the grammar stage. This stage is particularly representative of grades 6-8.

 

Rhetoric Stage: Once students have learned how to properly apply the tools of reason and logic from the work of others, they are ready to begin the rhetoric stage. In this stage, students are required to create their own original works and defend them against critique. This stage is more representative of grades 9-12 and will therefore not be discussed in greater detail as these grade levels will not be initially served by Freedom Classical Academy.

Grammar Phase 

Students get the knowledge and skills that act as building blocks for later learning.

Logic Phase 

Students use their knowledge and skills to evaluate the works of others.

Rhetoric Phase 

Students create their own work and defend it against criticism.

The Outcome

Students that complete a thorough classical education program will leave school prepared for college, career, and life. That is not to say that they will have all of the knowledge, skills, or experience that they need, but that having engaged in classical education they will know how to obtain those things for themselves. Classically trained students know how to learn. Even better, classically trained students love learning. They have dove into the depths of great literature or art and come out transformed. They no longer read as a chore or assignment, but as a favored past-time that brings happiness, mental stimulation, and joy.

Just as important as knowing how to learn, classically trained students know how to identify logical fallacies and avoid propaganda. They know how to engage in civil discourse and argue a point. In our increasingly polarized world, we are

In order to obtain these outcomes, however, it is imperative that both parents and students understand that there is a price to pay. Just like an athlete must train his/her muscles through extended, rigorous exercise, students must train his/her mind through extended, rigorous exercise. At Freedom Classical Academy, students are expected to work hard and to take accountability for their work. Students must be active participants in their education, not merely passive spectators. This means homework, projects, and extreme accountability. Teachers at Freedom Classical Academy set clear expectations and expect students to rise to the challenge. We do not believe in coddling students or making excuses for poor performance. We also do not give out awards for mediocrity. When students earn praise at Freedom Classical Academy, they will know that they have truly done something special and will receive greater self-confidence. Students that fail to meet the standard will feel the bitter sting of disappointment and be incentivized to work even harder. While this philosophy is out of vogue in most public schools, we feel it is better for students to experience disappointment at young ages in a structured environment than later as young adults entering the work force. Disappointment serves a purpose and by removing that from our students, we would do them a great disservice. 

Additional Resources

The Classical Education model is gaining more and more proponents, especially in the charter school world. Below are some great resources that explain more about what a classical education actually is. Click on the pictures to access the resources.

Having a Conversation Through Literature

Great literature transforms us as individuals. Watch this video by Dr. David Whalen of Hillsdale College to see how. 

David Whalen

Classical Education for Modern Times

Classical education is often characterized as an outdated pedagogy by progressive educators. This article by Dr. Moore helps outline a modern model for classical education.

Terrence Moore

What if Everyone Had a Classical Education?

Rebekah Hagstrom, operator of a classical charter school, does a great job outlining not only what a classical education is, but what would happen if all students were afforded the opportunity to receive a classical education.

Rebekah Hagstrom

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