What is Classical Homeschooling?
(also known as Classical Christian Homeschooling)
Classical homeschooling is a teaching system based on the "Trivium" used in medieval universities as the foundations of education in the liberal arts. The Latin word trivium means "the three ways" or "three roads" as they relate to the three stages observed by the ancients in regards to a child's cognitive development from infancy to adulthood.
These three roads, or rather stages, were:
- The Grammar stage from grades 1-6 is where a child's mind typically absorbs and stores tremendous amounts of information, such as facts and elements of language mechanics
- The Logic/dialectics stage from grades 7-9 is where the mechanics of thought/reasoning and analysis are honed and everything becomes an exercise of argumentation (an analysis of apparent 'facts' and the search for their validation among other available "facts")
- The Rhetoric stage, during which the ability to instruct, persuade and formulate abstract concepts are developed from grades 10-12 when an individual matures into the first stage of adulthood and their main concerns are with self-discovery and expression
Along the foundation of these three "stages of learning" in Classical homeschooling, subjects such as Art, Bible, Geography, History, Literature, Math, Music, Oratory, Science, Language (classical languages of Latin and Greek) and Writing are taught as well as the subjects of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.
Key components to keep in mind when putting together a Classical homeschooling curriculum:
In Trivium based homeschooling any curriculum can be adapted to the three-stage principle, however several components have to be observed:
- The core of Trivium education is Language with the rules and mechanics of English being the main focus, involving phonics, vocabulary, grammar (both spoken and written), conventions in writing, spelling, reading and sentence structure. These facets of the grammar stage are studied in preparation for the next two stages of logic and rhetoric.
To stay 'true' to the proper requirements of the Grammar stage learning, materials should be restricted to the "building blocks" of knowledge regardless of the actual subject matter. For example, in math, math facts should be taught rather than solving spatial problems; in history lessons, only the 'who', 'what', 'when' and 'where' should be taught and not the 'whys'; and in reading, proficiency and ability should be focused on rather than discussion and analysis of literature styles.
- In the Logic/dialectic stage children can still study 'fact' based material, however, they need to have a greater portion of analytical exercises added to their study and without prematurely branching off into abstract studies. For example, in math, geometry and algebraic problems should be worked on rather than arithmetic computations; for science, lessons should be comprised of testing established hypothesis rather than trying to formulate new ones. In reading, literature and history, presenting opinions and holding reading discussions are all stage appropriate exercises.
- In the Rhetoric/abstract stage, children can continue to build upon their foundations of grammar/concrete and logical thinking while having necessary the abstract thinking added to their learning materials. Appropriate exercises for the Rhetoric stage should involve self-expression and creativity. For example, in writing, short stories and poetry are good exercises in exchange for grammar; higher-level math like calculus rather than geometry proofs should be worked on; and in philosophy and science, rather than presenting an established theory, students should present their own theories after researching several authors' theories.
- The classical languages of either Greek or Latin should be taught in a Classical homeschooling environment. Greek is taught in Classical Christian education because of its Biblical importance and Latin is taught in regard to its place in the development of Western Civilization. When choosing a Greek or Latin curricula, look for ones that teach these languages the same way good curricula teach English grammar, by deduction rather than by word memorization.
- Also, a classical homeschooling education needs to emphasize on the history of Western Civilization and its literature (as in a "Great Books" education) as well as the government, art, science, law, philosophy, and music of Western civilization.