What is Classical Education?

Founded on the conviction that the best pedagogy is time-tested, agreeable to the student, and effective in producing critical thinking skills, Covenant adopts the "classical" method of education.

The classical method is built upon the solid foundation of Judeo-Christian culture.  Used almost exclusively throughout Western Civilization and most fully developed in the Middle Ages, classical education enjoys a rich heritage.  From religious reformers to America’s own Founding Fathers, generations of culture-shaping leaders from the 10th to the 19th centuries have enjoyed the benefits of a classical education. 

The classical method consists of the first three stages of the seven Liberal Arts.  Known collectively as the Trivium, these first three stages – or ways – included grammar, dialectic or logic, and rhetoric.  Grammar, provides the foundation of knowledge upon which rests the edifice of a child’s education. This knowledge consists of the basic facts of any particular subject. The second stage of dialectic provides training in formal logic as a means to identify the relationships between facts. The third stage, rhetoric, trains students how to express their thoughts with clarity and persuasion. 

Finding a biblical parallel in the pursuit of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, a Classical, Christian education should equip students to develop the skills and habits necessary to learn independently, think critically, analyze logically, and express themselves with distinctive lucidity.

Distinct from some other versions, Covenant’s iteration of classical education is influenced by the work of Charlotte Mason, a nineteenth century English schoolmistress.  Over and against the increasingly rigid, mechanized, inhumane and secular approach to the classical education of her day, Ms. Mason worked tirelessly for the inclusion of Christian principles into education. Taken from her extensive writings, Mason’s ideas include respecting the mind of the child by choosing quality literature, viewing education as an atmosphere and a discipline, employing narration in the teaching of history and literature, and holding nature study classes to help students develop an appreciation for God's creation. Mason, indeed, was a Classical, Christian reformer whose educational methodology Covenant seeks to keep alive.

While no single book can exhaustively capture or convey Covenant’s unique approach to classical education, in addition to works from Mason, other helpful resources on the school’s philosophy of education include Douglas Wilson's Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake.