Classical Homeschooling Defined

The classical educators firmly believe that the brain develops through three stages-grammar, logic and rhetoric. The grammar stage starts at birth and generally continues until age twelve. In the grammar stage the child is taught through listening, reading, writing and observation. The child is taught the fundamental rules of science, are or the subject of study.

Each child is given only the basic concrete information based on facts only. Since the child is unable to reason, only concrete and truthful knowledge is given. In this way the child will not be subjected to abstraction, but has been given only the facts and the truth to set his foundation. The grammar curriculum, also call the correct usage of language, includes: orthography-the study of the elementary sounds, letters, and syllables for our English language, phonics, etymology-the study of classification (parts of speech), derivation (suffixes and prefixes), and properties of words (nouns and verbs), syntax-the proper construction of sentences, and spelling.

The second stage of the trivium is called logic or the science of reasoning. The logical stage for the child generally begins in middle school and continues through high school. The child is now independent, abstract and analytical. In the logical stage the child is critically thinking. They are able to take the facts that were given in the grammar stage, and ask "Why?" The logical child will dissect everything that they have learned and examine it under natural and unalterable laws of reason. At this point the child is given all the tools needed to look for the truth in the information given and to arrive at valid and accurate conclusions.

The child will gain a great understanding of the subject matter in this stage because the truth is now proven through this process. The high school child is in the rhetoric stage in pre-adulthood. In this third and final stage, the child is able to combine the mechanics of study and his thinking skills into one. The child, becoming a persuasive adult has completely reached abstraction. He will take all the knowledge that he has learned and expressively, effectively and eloquently communicate the facts to others through the written and spoken word.

It is also believed that because the child at this stage knows the facts so well and has tested them thoroughly, he can now begin to test the unknown. At that point the child can now move from being practical to theoretical. Classical education has considerably grown within the homeschooling community.

Textbooks are now available for purchase. There are also a number of websites that are available for your viewing. Why is this method popular? Basically, the issue to focus on is what is classical education, why is it necessary in our day and what are its benefits? The word "classical" or "classic" is used in many contexts and often without specific meaning: Classic Coke, classical music, classic rock; however, classical usually means something that through time for various reasons has been proven worthy of our respect and interest. In music, the work of certain composers has been recognized as worth saving while that of others, even though perhaps popular in its own time, has been tossed aside to the dust-bin of history. The same is true of books; some books are more worthy of study than others because of the profundity and clarity with which they express the ideas that they contain. The study of the great books has been the backbone of good education for centuries.

If you look at the books read by the intellectual giants of our culture, you find that there are particular books that come up again and again. These books were required of most schoolboys until the rise of Dewey and the democratization of education through the public school system. The public school system saw these books as elitist and not easily comprehensible by the masses and therefore not appropriate for public education. If someone desires to raise a generation of young Christians who hold firmly to the truth of their faith, the Classical approach to homeschooling is often used.

Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.


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