We are accustomed to explaining classical education as a three-stage educational method that guides students through the Trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric as their abilities mature. But classical education is much more than a pattern of learning. Author Susan Wise Bauer fleshes out another crucial aspect of classical education that is a major part of what we do at Regents Academy. She explains:
Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television). Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back” and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work. A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions. But that isn’t all. To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn’t studied in isolation; it’s learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church’s relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man’s understanding of the divine. This is easier said than done. The world is full of knowledge, and finding the links between fields of study can be a mind-twisting task. A classical education meets this challenge by taking history as its organizing outline — beginning with the ancients and progressing forward to the moderns in history, science, literature, art and music.
In short, we love books and all that they do for us and our children. We wholeheartedly believe in books and know that when students read books, they are educated in a way that cannot be replaced by videos and images. Let me give you this encouragement: make books a prominent part of the culture of your home. Read good books yourself, share them with your children, read them aloud, talk about the ideas you find in books, and foster a love for books in your children. That is something that we will both do that will reap a precious harvest of learning and love for truth, beauty, and goodness in our children.