The Christian Classical Tradition

The Christian classical tradition is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through a pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty using the enduring educational traditions of first the Hebrew people, who employed a culture of memory, and then the Greek and Roman peoples who formalized education in light of the interconnected nature of all things. Christian classical education holds four consistent beliefs:

  • All persons are made in the image of God in order to know Him, enjoy Him, and ultimately glorify Him.
  • Christ, the Logos, is the organizing principle for all of creation, and creation is knowable because it is dively interwoven.
  • We hold the responsibility to carry forth the enduring traditions of our shared past through studies of classical literature, art, music, and history in the western tradition.
  • The seven liberal arts are the primary pedagogical sources for a Christian classical education.

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

Awakening Wonder by Dr. Stephen Turley says, "Truth, goodness, and beauty were not merely subjective preferences or private opinions but rather three distinct yet interrelated manifestations of the divine reality of the cosmos." There are universal, ultimate truths that can be known. Goodness prioritizes truth and tells what is worthy of study. Beauty compels us into relationship with the true and the good. Beauty is always linked with the true and good; therefore, it is cultivated, not innate.

In light of this, we hold an opening assembly for the entire school where we together sing a hymn, explore a famous work of art, and listen to a music selection from a composer.

The Seven Liberal Arts

The seven liberal arts are the means to thinking. They have been the basis for the education of free peoples for centuries because teachers understood that learning was an art, not merely a repetition of facts. These arts are interconnected, so pursuit of one is a pursuit of another and understanding of one brings richness to another. The seven liberal arts are made of the trivium and the quadrivium. Paideia emphasizes training in the trivium as the mathematical arts of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), are appropriately studied at the university level.

The trivium - grammar, logic, and rhetoric - provides a way to meet, know, and reflect the true, good, and beautiful. These arts were the main educational focus during the years before university because people knew that thinking and communicating clearly form the basis for all higher intellectual pursuits. Growth along the trivium occurs with others through investigation, observation, conversation, debate, and presentation.

Liberal means free. Ultimate freedom is obtained through Christ, not knowledge. A Christian classical education does not aim to fill a person with knowledge for the sake of knowledge or power, but to fill a person with devotion to God, humility in the self, and charity for fellow man.

In light of the seven liberal arts, classical education is driven by process not product. Therefore, no parent or teacher has truly mastered any art, and we are committed to a lifestyle of learning recognizing that there is always more wonder to behold and more wisdom to gain.

Grammar, Logic (Dialectic) and Rhetoric

Grammar is an investigation of what is the nature of a thing and what that thing does. While often tied to a developmental stage, it is an art never mastered because it is a pursuit of concrete knowledge that introduces truth, provides foundations for what is good, and cultivates affections for beauty.

Logic or dialectic is right reasoning that is not driven by our personal preferences and biases and is an understanding of cause and effect. Logic allows us to properly order what is good in light of the true and beautiful.

Rhetoric is the art of expression and allows students to declare the true, good, and beautiful with clarity and conviction.

Who is the Teacher?

The parent, in partnership with Paideia, is the teacher. God has assigned the authority, responsibility, and delegation of educational choices to parents. Paideia respects this God-ordained authority and provides families accountability, instruction, and fellowship in pursuit of a formative education.

Mentors provide classroom instruction by presenting ideas and by facilitating discussions, presentations, recitations, and activities in narration. The mentor is an inspirational guide for students modeling and pursuing a lifestyle of learning with encouragement and accountability. In addition, School of Wisdom mentors outline weekly assignments and facilitate appropriate assessments and quarterly evaluations. Parents are responsible to monitor completion of assignments, assign grades, and record transcripts.

The balance of this partnership is different according to age. The School of Wonder serves elementary aged students and strives to maintain a priority of parental authority in the home while supporting each other with encouragement and accountability. The School of Wisdom serves secondary students and strives to foster accountability for students with parents as they instruct their child at home. Students are accountable to their class and must be committed to completing the assigned work to the best of their varying abilities for the benefit of themselves and the class. The parent is the ultimate authority, but there is a shared relationship.

Paideia & Charlotte Mason

We see Charlotte Mason's approach as completely compatible with classical education. We are inspired by her emphasis on observation and attention, and her emphasis on feeding the child with whole books, beautiful art, rich music, and nature study. We believe narration is one of the most valuable ways to grow in expression both in speech and writing. While we do not implement a Charlotte Mason curriculum, her educational principles are woven throughout our program.

What about Vocational Training?

We prioritize training for thinking and communication that is wise and virtuous in order to prepare students for any academic, life, or vocational pursuit. The ability to think transcends all occupations; therefore, vocational training will naturally occur.