What No One Tells You About Classical Education
What do you do when the topic of classical education comes up among Christian homeschool families? For me, I usually struggle with how to explain the difference between the Greek and Hebraic classical forms. While there are a few different classical education models out there, they don’t all teach with Bible Principles. And, for my readers, it’s groups who use the Principle Approach® method to look for. Because the Principle Approach® method is America’s historical method of classical education that keeps the Bible at the heart of education. If you’re a homeschool mom who wants to teach with a classical Biblical education, keep reading.
My list to Share About a Classical Biblical Education Tends to Be:
- My children develop a love of learning,
- Classic literature is read in our homeschool,
- We study Scripture
- It’s the Hebraic way of learning… a Biblical form of education vs. a Greek one…
To Which I Receive Nods and the Following Replies:
- Ours are developing a love of learning, too. (Insert the name of a classical group that they’ve joined.)
- Classic literature is read in our homeschool, too. (Insert favorite things about a program or curriculum.)
- We read our Bibles, too,
It can feel frustrating. Because, frankly, there are many excellent qualities to the Principle Approach®. But how to best narrow it down? Especially so that I don’t overwhelm someone with information. In short, I’ve unintentionally done that. It always seems to happen once it comes down to explaining the difference between Hebraic and Greek learning.
Can you relate?
The Differences Between a Classical Education and a Biblical Classical Education
So, if I could share about them with you over a cup of coffee, here are the differences between the two. If you’re already familiar with the differences, maybe you’ll find this post valuable to share with friends.
Firstly, this is not to say that Christians who teach a classical Greek model embrace or agree with that mindset. However, please understand that the Views of History and Views of Education tend to differ among Greek and Hebraic thought. All in all many classical education programs, curricula, and groups don’t keep the Scriptures at the heart of education. That is to say, at the heart of every subject.
Both of these charts are adapted from the
Rudimentary Pagan versus Christian Views chart in
The Noah Plan© 1998 History and Geography Curriculum Guide, pg. 49
Foundation for American Christian Education
Classical Education with a Greek Mindset
Simply put, a Classical Education with a Greek Mindset (Trivium) holds to the view that:
- Children memorize facts at an early age, laying a foundation (memorize and parrot),
- In the middle grades, children learn arguments (logic… moving beyond “why” into the facts),
- In high school, children learn to express their individuality (pursuit of interests, etc.)
Classical Education with a Hebraic Mindset
A Biblical Classical Education which has a Hebraic Mindset (The Principle Approach® method) holds to the view that:
- Children are able to absorb and memorize facts, principles, and reason from a very early age,
- to elaborate, children memorize but also learn the cause to effect and foundational truths from Scripture about the subject. The foundation isn’t simply rooted in rote memorization, but rather the basic principles found in Scripture.
- Children of all ages are able to reason and relate.
- to elaborate, as parents we see that our children very early on in life, even as babies, reason from cause to effect. Consider that when a baby cries, the baby sees the effect of mother’s or father’s comforting arms embracing him to soothe him. They catch on to if they let go of your keys in the market, the keys will fall and someone will pick them up. If they express that they are hungry or thirsty, they see that the cause of their expression results in those needs being met, etc.
- Children are individuals from the beginning of their lives. This is emphasized throughout their learning and seen as they create their individual notebook pages expressing thought from their studies. They also learn about the individuality of others and learn to appreciate people for who they are.
My Classical Biblical Education Experience
As a mother who has taught her children this way from the beginning, I am a witness to seventeen years of fruit bearing. During this precious season of life, it’s a joyful experience to see the beauty of seeds growing into Fruits of the Holy Spirit. In the first place, it’s a relationship builder with my children and with our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lord works in my heart and life personally. And I’ve been so very blessed to see Him work in the hearts and lives of our children.
In short, my hope is that this helps you to see the stark contrast between the two forms of classical education. If you decide to pursue the Principle Approach® method and would like help with it, please allow Principled Academy and its community to help guide you and support you in your journey.
- Ask questions in our comments section so that our team or on-line community we’re building may be able to help you.
- Take advantage of our informational video section by going here and,
- Sign up for our free Caterpillar Members’ Club by going here for free lessons and notebook pages.
Are there any Principle Approach® educators who would like to share about their experiences? Join the conversation below.
Take these charts with you to homeschool conferences as a guide to help you consider options.
Take them to homeschool groups and share.
Firstly, thank you for your comparison of these two educational philosophies; direct comparisons are helpful but often hard to find.
Secondly, please feel free to remove this comment if you would rather not have it attached to this post. I wouldn’t want to ruin the lovely tone of your website.
Nonetheless, 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.
While I don’t claim to be anymore than the most casual of readers of the Greek classics, the Greek authors seem to differ significantly concerning the answers to “life” questions. For instance, throughout the centuries, two opposing philosophies often dominated Greek thought: asceticism and hedonism. Many Greeks opposed, both with their words and deeds, either one way-of-life or the other. This one example crudely illustrates the contention that the Greeks, while one culture, were a not monolithic people.
Although the Greeks were certainly pagans, should Christians therefore ignore everything they wrote an thought. Should we not, as C. S. Lewis wrote about in, I believe, “Surprised by Joy”, take truth, beauty, & goodness wherever we find it? After all, in the words of Abraham Kuyper, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” If He is so sovereign, is not everything, even a Greek classic, a reflection, even if distorted, of Him?
If I can be so bold, Wes Calihan, a much more educated man than I, has a short discussion of the question here:
Lastly, 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. Dr. Christopher Perrin, the CEO of Classical Academic Press, once said that Classical Education is like a cathedral. It has too many parts and pieces to sum up tidily. To see all of it takes some time, both looking at the whole of the cathedral and study the minutiae of the carvings on the flying buttresses.
Which brings me to the last point, 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.
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.
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.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Levi. I am replying to it in a blog post because you bring up good questions and I think others may have them, too. Blessings, Heather
Heather I follow the link, but I could not find the second part of the article.
Sorry about that. Here is the correct link: