Elements of a Classical Education

Published February 1, 1998

While schools may adopt different forms, the commitment to classical education is marked by certain common elements:

  • Commitment to a liberal, or general curriculum, rather than a narrow approach or one where students can evade issues;
  • Explicit or implicit recognition of the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and the quadrivium (abstract thought, aesthetic appreciation, empirical inquiry, spatial relationships);
  • Integration of all curriculum elements, with unified, cumulative learning;
  • Appreciation of the past for its achievements, not denigration or nostalgia;
  • Cultivation of interest in first principles and ultimate purposes in religion and philosophy;
  • Inculcation of wisdom and virtue in preparation for adult responsibilities and citizenship;
  • Viewing schools as communities of learning, not only making demands on students but also inspiring them;
  • The ultimate purpose of the heavy workloads, the strict discipline, the drills, and constant questioning is to open the mind to truth and creative, independent thought.