What Is the Purpose of a Classical Education?
What is the purpose of classical education?
What is the purpose of classical education for our children? After all, working on memorization, learning logic, studying Latin and Greek, and mastering rhetoric is a lot of work.
Classical education doesn’t lend itself automatically to a job either, not like computer programming or farming. So what is the point of classical education?
Classical education is not about getting kids into the best schools and the highest paying job. It can be a side benefit, but that’s not the primary purpose of classical education.
Being able to read classics in the original Latin and Greek isn’t why we classically educate. It is a goal, but again reading the Odyssey in Attic Greek isn’t the end-all-be-all of classical education.
Wisdom and virtue are the purposes of classical education.
We’re preparing our children to be adults in a changing world. A world where we can’t predict what issues they will face. The laws that will be voted on. The people they will interact with.
Our children may end up being leaders of the world or plumbers in their hometowns. Either way, the children need to make wise decisions.
They will be called upon to decide how to educate their children, what religion to follow, who to vote for.
Kids will turn into adults needing to decide how to handle money left in the change machine with no one watching. Do they pocket the change or tell the nearest cashier?
As adults, our children will be called on to use virtue and to apply wisdom. It doesn’t matter how successful or how far they go. Are they virtuous? Do they have wisdom?
Can they balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community? There are times the individual must play second fiddle to the community. There are other times the individual must stand for what is right against the community.
Do your children know how to tell the difference?
Classical education exposes us to the best thoughts of the past.
Wise men expounded on what is right, debated what is wrong, and pondered long and hard about virtue. By studying these men and women, we internalize the definition of wisdom. We meditate on virtue.
Through pounding Latin and Greek into our heads, we learn discipline.
Through reading the Great Books, we learn wisdom and virtue.
We are lead by the greatest examples in the world to become men and women of wisdom and virtue. We hope.
In the end, we are left with this thought. Does our education make us better men and women, or merely people with a bigger paycheck?
Classical education teaches us wisdom and virtue. It changes us for the better.
Perfect!…I love your thoughts on this 🙂
Thanks, Tahara. 🙂
So much we hear about education these days seems to relate to career prep! I really appreciate your thoughts on this. I’m more interested in discipleship than job training – I want to cultivate character, the ability to think, and an appreciation for all that is beautiful and excellent!
There’s so much more to life than just the career and work we choose. It takes time to cultivate character, the ability to think, and an appreciation for beauty. But it add so much to the art of living! 🙂
Love this post, Sara! You really summed up the goals of a classical education well. Thanks for writing this all out!
Thanks, Angela! 🙂
Yes! I also think the classical education is to fill up the students with things other than themselves, to take them out of themselves, to understand their place in this world. Not as a superior, but as an inheritor. When my kids get to the age when they want the world to hear their thoughts, I want those thoughts to have validity, rather than just instinct or feeling. Great post Sara, really made me think!
Thanks, Jennifer. That’s a great point about filling up the students with ideas from outside themselves, so they can inherit the wisdom of the world. 🙂
What I think is so interesting is that it is much harder to lead my children to wisdom and virtue than it is to check off all the facts we’ve memorized or books we’ve read. I agree with you completely and I love the focus on wisdom and virtue, I only wish there was a step-by-step how-to guide 😉
I wish we had a step-by-step guide as well. Unfortunately I think wisdom comes with experience and thought. Reading the great books is a great start though!
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