“Men invent new ideals
because they dare not attempt
The classical education model divides learning into three phases that correspond to student’s developmental abilities. Each phase corresponds to the psychological and social development of the student.
Phase 1: Grades 1-6
Students learn the eight parts of speech, the rules of syntax, punctuation, etc. More broadly, they also learn how to learn. Learning any discipline requires a basic knowledge of the terms.
In the grammar phase of every subject, we immerse students in vocabulary related to the subject matter. For example, when you learn to read, you learn the names of the letters and the sounds they make.
Phase 2: Grades 7-8
The second step in learning a subject is to comprehend, compare and apply what one has learned. For example, literature students begin to know how to read a sentence, identify difficult words, analyze them for meaning from the context and then consider whether the sentence is true or false.
Students begin the process of making sense of what they have acquired in Phase One. They learn to compare, inquire, practice and finally apply their knowledge. They also learn logical laws (such as the law of non-contradiction), the basics of inductive and deductive logic, syllogisms and informal fallacies.
Phase 2: Grades 7-8
The final phase of the Trivium helps students to become excellent communicators in any discipline or medium. Students become comfortable eloquently articulating their thoughts in the form of writing, speaking and debating.
The Rhetorical Phase is the manifestation and exercise of knowledge acquired in the two prior phases. During the rhetorical phase, students are able to employ their knowledge it in their personal and academic endeavors.
Benefits of Classical Education
Actual Subject Mastery
Students work in a way that ensures mastery. Students will master a few subjects, rather than pursue many subjects disjointedly.
Stronger Work Ethic
Students and parents will come to appreciate how a meaningful and gratifying education requires time and dedication, because repetition, rather than rote memorization, helps solidify memory.
Cultivation of Virtues
Classical education helps the student to cultivate the love and pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness.
Students need to be provided a respite for reflection, good conversation and debate to help retain content and develop coherent abstract thought.
A Brief History of Classical Education in the US
In the 1820s, Yale, Harvard, the University of Virginia, Oxford, Cambridge and many other universities employed a model of education we now call “Classical.” A hundred years later, the Classical Education model was largely discarded in favor of the pedagogical fads emerging from Berlin.
U.S. educators began restoring the classical model of education in the 1980s and since that time great strides have been made to re-imagine a genuinely classical approach that fits for our contemporary setting.
Today, classical education is experiencing a revival due to its timeless and tested approach to cultivating the potential of young people. Students flourish when they encounter the best of thought and culture from around the world. Students not only learn history, literature, philosophy, math, art and science, but they practice a careful study of language, grammar and logic in order to master the process of learning itself.
Chesterton School of Liberal Arts is proud to be part of the restoration of the model that produced minds like Thomas Jefferson, W. E. B. Dubois, Augustine of Hippo, and Churchill. We welcome you to join us in our pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty.