The Classical Education Model

Touted to be the return to a proven method of past centuries, the Classical Educational Model is gaining in popularity among homeschooling parents. The model is characterized by exposure to history, art, culture, languages, philosophy, and literature of Western Civilization. With a Christian emphasis (it also concentrates on the development of a biblical view of the world and Theology is considered to be the queen of sciences), the core of this model is the Trivium, which tailors curriculum subject matter to a child's cognitive development.

The Trivium is based on three levels, or stages of teaching and learning based on the age and ability of the child. The goals of the Trivium are Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric.

Grammar Level

This stage is the based on concrete learning. In Bloom's taxonomy, this is considered to be the base of the learning pyramid. In this stage, rote memorization is the emphasis. Many public school systems call this "kill and drill." The idea is for kids to learn the vocabulary, rules, and basics first. This level is recommended for the elementary ages of children.

During this stage, children are taught Art, Bible, Geography, History, Literature, Math, Music, Oratory, Science, and Writing.

Dialectic Level

Also considered to be the analytical thinking and understanding stage, this is recommended for the middle school age kids.

The student learns to reason and to string isolated ideas together.

During this stage, students are taught more in-depth concepts in Art, Bible, History, Literature, Math, Music, Oratory, Science, and Writing. Language, Logic, and Government are introduced at this time.

Rhetoric Level

This is where abstract thinking and self-expression come in. It is recommended for the high school years.

During this stage, students take all that they have learned and develop the ability to apply that knowledge to abstract ideas. Rhetoric and Philosophy are added to the studies while Government and Logic receive less concentration.

On a side note, history is taught throughout all stages in four year cycles. Repeating the cycle allows for further understanding as the child's cognitive development advances.

This model can be explained in layman's terms by likening it to the process in which a baby learns to speak. A child first learns sounds, vocabulary, and simple sentences. He then learns how to apply the rules of grammar in order to express more complete thoughts. Finally, the child learns to express opinions and more complex ideas.

The supporters of the Classical Education Model argue that the modern education system expects kids to master subjects before mastering the skill of learning. A bit like putting the cart before the horse?

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