Classical Conversations is a classical, Christian education. Some might see these words placed together and not see the connection. In fact, some might go so far as to say they do not connect. It probably will not surprise you to hear me say, “Well, they do go together!” Actually, I am a firm believer that classical + Christian are better suited to each other than classical + humanistic.
But, I did not always know this.
How do they connect? Here are several ways:
1. Truth and beauty. In classical education, children are to sink into timeless pieces of literature, examine, appreciate, and replicate artistic masterpieces, enjoy nature, and relish in musical marvels. Where there is real beauty, there is truth.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8, KJV).
2. Exploring the best. There are literal greats or giants of their field in every area of study. Why settle for less? These greats from times past serve as mentors of sorts when time is spent immersed in their works.
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7 (really verses 4-11), KJV).
3. Connection between subjects. Math, science, history: these are not subjects unto themselves, but parts of a whole. When studied as such, not only do we see the greater value of each of the parts, but we see a more complete picture of the whole. Dividing them limits our vision.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20, KJV).
4. Virtue, not knowledge. Morals, not job skills. Classical education has always had a higher aim than creating and employing a workforce to support a nation. It was seeking good citizens…or another way to look at it, good neighbors.
Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth (1 Corinthians 10:24, KJV).
5. Outlined for growth and maturity. Classical education expects growth and models its teaching methods after natural developmental stages. Why? It works best, because this is how humans have been created to learn.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men (1 Samuel 2:26, KJV).
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52, KJV).
6. Emphasis on rhetoric. Classical education has placed a strong emphasis on a student’s ability to share ideas, because learning something only for yourself seriously limits the possibilities.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2, KJV).
7. Timeless. Classical education is interested in the best from humanity; therefore, students are not limited to contemporary thinkers. Minds are exposed to a greater context than our personal, generational, or national history.
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9, KJV).
Classical education is both what is studied and how it is studied. It leads you to discover and explore the best humanity this world has to offer, but, on its own, takes you no further. I first began to unpack the limitations of a classical education for myself while reading Climbing Parnassus. My appreciation grew for classical education, but I also recognized that classical education alone is not enough. Without adding the Christian component to the classical, you are simply left with a humanistic education that can see the beauty of the created world, but has little idea what to do with the ugly. Surely, close examination and study of the world around us will reveal both the beautiful and the ugly, but with a Christian education based firmly on the truth of the Bible solely in one’s grasp, you are able to add wisdom to knowledge and understanding. You are able to look beyond simply what is around, beyond simply what we can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. While some may rightly make the argument that classical education has always led one to explore beyond the merely physical by asking good questions, I would suggest that while classical education promotes the questions, it does not provide the answers.
Therein lies the greatest advantage to pursuing an education that is both classical and Christian; through discovery you will find not only the beauty of creation, but the Creator. And not only the Creator, but the Savior Who offers so much more than this world can display. The Savior Who is the reason for the beauty and the solution to the ugly. The God, Creator and Savior, Who seeks you and wishes to reveal himself through His creation.
“A classical, Christian education, then, teaches students to love God by learning about the world as God’s universe, designed by His creative mind, governed by His laws, and sustained by His providential guidance. Parents begin the process by training very young children to look for evidence of God’s design in all subjects, even math and language. Children can discover the logic of His universal natural laws as they study science and His unfolding plan as they encounter history. They encounter His creativity in music, art, and literature” (Classical Christian Education Made Approachable, p. 47).
I exhort you to choose a classical education that begins with, ends with, and focuses on God as the central figure and reason for all that you study. Perhaps you can see through my thoughts on classical, Christian education as to why we have chosen Classical Conversations to be the tool we use to teach our children. Actually, I think I have misspoken. God, in His great love for our family, selected Classical Conversations for us long before my husband or I had a full understanding of why it was the best choice. Maybe we still do not fully know. We are but students ourselves. However, in His infinite wisdom, God has planned the steps of our homeschooling journey without any knowledge or experience of our own. For this we are deeply grateful and we are very excited to see where He leads us.
Do you have questions about classical, Christian education? Do you have more you would like to add to the conversation? Please do! And I invite you to stay tuned as I intend to share more about classical education over the next several weeks.
Visit here to see how Classical Conversations approaches combining the classical method of learning with a biblical worldview.
Want to understand more about classical education? Check out my post, “A Beginning Glossary of Terms for Classical Education” and my series of how-to-classically-educate posts entitled “At Home with the Classical Method.”