Principle Approach 2

What No One Tells You About Classical Education: Part 2

There was a comment from a reader, Levi, in regards to my previous blog post, What No One Tells You About Classical Education. And in the comment I’m challenged to consider seeing a Greek Classical Education in a different light.  After taking time to consider the points made and to research before replying, I’m ready to share thoughts.

Firstly, if you’d like to read the full comment from this reader, visit the link provided above. For the sake of time, I’m quoting aspects of his comment to reply to. And Levi, if you’re reading this post, thank you for your comment; I enjoyed considering what you had to say.

Please keep in mind that this is not my normal format for my blog posts. However, I thought that Levi had some good questions and that maybe other readers have them as well.  And this is an attempt to answer the questions and to clarify about the Principle Approach®(1) method of education.

Classical Education: A Question of Philosophy

The Challenge: “I would like to pose a three challenges: concerning the Greeks’ views, what Christians may take from the Greeks, and what Christians are doing with Classical Education now.” -Levi (a reader)

Should Christians Ignore Everything Pagans Wrote and Thought?

Reader’s Comment:

“Although the Greeks were certainly pagans, should Christians therefore ignore everything they wrote an thought?”

Principled Academy’s Reply:

In reality, it isn’t a matter of ignoring what the Greeks thought and wrote. For instance, The Noah Plan®(2) overviews suggest learning about the influences of Pagan music, art, government, literature, etc. (See The Biblical Classical Approach to Greek Mythology for more). With The Principle Approach® method we don’t elevate these things. But rather, we research ideas and actions and compare them to what Scripture teaches. Additionally, we practice reasoning from truth. Furthermore, we compare and contrast and hold God’s standard as the highest standard to living—in thought and deed.

Where to Turn to for Educational Philosophies?

Reader’s Comment:

“Christian classical educators today often describe themselves just that way: Christian classical educators. They tend not to look only to the Greeks for their educational philosophies but also to the Medieval Christians, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Christian tradition of this country, and more besides.”

Principled Academy’s Reply:

Be that as it may, a Biblical Classical teacher develops their Philosophy of Education based on what the Bible teaches about education. This is done via word studies as a part of our research; we reason from truth, apply our Biblical thinking to our writings and lives. Whereas, Greek classical educators do not go to the Word of God in every subject to do so.

To be sure, studying about people groups and cultures is different from turning to them to develop one’s philosophy of education. Indeed, one must then adopt the heart of education of pagans to incorporate it into their philosophy. And this would then be contrary to a classical Biblical worldview. By all means, I think that the charts in the What No One Tells You About Classical Education blog post illustrate this clearly.

Can much be learned from the Greeks, Medieval Christians, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Christian tradition of this country, and others? Yes! In fact, we can look to see Yahweh’s Providential Hand throughout History (His Story). In addition, we can look at the cause to effect of when God’s principles are either honored or violated by individuals, institutions, during events, and within documents. After all, there are many life-lessons to be learned from each of those areas as we study nations and their cultures. You can learn more about Biblical Classical education here.

Defining Classical Education

Reader’s Comment:

“Christian classical educators themselves disagree about the definition of Christian classical education. While the Trivium definition you presented above is common, other common definitions include the seven liberal arts, the study of classical languages like Latin and Greek, the goals of Wisdom & Virtue, the study of the Great Books, the means of True, Good, & Beautiful artifacts, etc. Christian classical education is a two-thousand year-old tradition; it’s complicated.”

Principled Academy’s Reply:

Indeed, that does sound complicated. In turning to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to help me sort this out, I read…

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Classical, adj.

1. Relating to ancient Greek and Roman authors of the first rank or estimation, which, in modern times, have been and still are studied as the best models of fine writing. Thus, Aristotle, Plato, Demosthenes, Thucydides, etc., among the Greeks, and Cicero, Virgil, Livy, Sallust, Cesar, and Tacitus, among the Latins, are classical authors. Hence,

2. Pertaining to writers of the first rank among the moderns; being of the first order; constituting the best model or authority as an author; Hence classical denotes pure, chaste, correct, refined; as a classical taste; a classical style.

Defining Classic

Given these definitions, it seems the commonality among many Greek classical forms of education hold the ancient Greek and Roman authors as the high standard. That is to say, as the first rank of estimation.

However, focusing solely on what a classic is helps us to see what a Biblical Classical Education is like:

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Classic, noun

1. An author of the first rank; a writer whose style is pure, correct, and refined;

With attention to the definitions, we can see that a Principle Approach® educator holds God up as such. To put it differently, Biblical classical educators turn to God’s Word as constituting the best model or authority as an author. In other words, as The Author who inspired men to write His Word for mankind. That is not to say that the study of the Greek and Latin languages are not taught. However, some of us incorporate the Hebrew language as well.

On The Principle Approach® Method

Reader’s Comment:

“I don’t mean to say that the Principle Approach® is all wrong, there is a lot of good in it and throughout it. I myself had the privilege of taking a Providential American History class in High School, and I am glad I was given that opportunity.”

Principled Academy’s Reply:

No worries; you come across as appreciating the Principle Approach® method. And that’s wonderful that you were able to partake in a Providential American History class in High School. What a blessing for you and our country.

Not All Philosophies of Education Have the Same End Result

Reader’s Comment:

“What I do hope I’ve communicated is that no matter what educational philosophy one ascribes to, other philosophies and educators can often open one’s eyes.”

I appreciate your time, Levi, to visit Principled Academy and to share your thoughts and perspective. And I hope that I’ve been able to clarify the contrasts between a Greek Classical Philosophy of education with that of a Biblical Classical education. In addition, I hope you see how the Biblical model holds various subjects in light of Scripture. That is to say, how it upholds the Bible as constituting the best model or authority as an author. This method of education is rich and produces excellent results as seen in the PEERS test results and Christian self-government which produces the character to sustain and restore Liberty to the individual and nations. In short, there isn’t neutrality in education.

Footnote 1: The Principle Approach® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for American Christian Education.

Footnote 2: The Noah Plan® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for American Christian Education.

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  1. This was extremely insightful. For the last few years, I was intrigued with the Greek way of education, purchasing a curriculum that was founded upon memorization of facts at first and then shifted to it’s focus on Greek philosopher’s and God’s. The Lord placed it on my heart this year that I needed to encompass my children with a methodology that reasoned through and from scripture. Thank you for posting this. Whee is part one of the article?

    Thank you 🙂