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Does a Classical Education Matter?

Posted By Foundation for American Christian Education, Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jean Siméon Chardin, The Young Schoolmistress, 1736

Many Christian schools and Christian homeschooling families have adopted a “classical” curriculum approach to teaching and learning, believing it to be the best form of education. The model for classical education is rooted in medieval Europe and refers to the Greek and Roman authors of the first rank among the moderns. The definition of classical is “being of the first order, constituting the best model or authority” and is considered pure, chaste, correct and refined.

But as Christian educators and parents, would we not consider the Bible as the first and authoritative classic? Biblical-Classical education identifies its source primarily in the Hebrew concepts of knowledge and life as contrasted to the Greek and Roman concepts of knowledge and life.

The Hebrew model of education had a primary purpose of teaching and learning to train the whole person for lifelong, obedient service in the knowledge of God. The fundamental goal of instruction was to transmit an historical and ethical heritage. While the Greek end-purpose was to “know thyself,” the Hebrew system had the object of knowing God as the primary purpose of education.

Colonial American education diverged from the European classical model at the Reformation to flower fully in its American colonial and governmental expression, and became the repository of making Biblical application to all of life. The Bible far outweighed the classical emphasis in scope and methodology. A Biblical education became not a passive repository of information, facts and figures, but a living pedagogy that called for critical thinking, debate, discussion and analysis. The role of the Bible in early American education is evident in the formation of John Quincy Adams, our nation's sixth president. The Biblical education he received helped him to play a vital role in supporting the Christian republic. (You can read more about John Quincy Adam's education by reading the article, The Education of John Quincy Adams: The Character for a Christian Republic.

Today, The Principle Approach or Biblical-Classical education is rooted in the Hebrew model of education, is enlightened by the Reformation, and applies Biblical principles in all subjects of the curriculum resulting in a high level of scholarship, formation of Christian character and self-government, and forms a Biblical world-view in the student. The only foundation for a useful education in our American Republic is the Bible and without it there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty. And liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.

Learn more about the Noah Plan Curriculum, which uses the Principle Approach and save 20% on Noah Plan Curriculum Guides in our Bookstore.

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