June 21st, 2013
06:10 PM ET

Classical schools put Plato over iPad

By Julia Duin, Special to CNN

(CNN) – In Maryland, a group of students ponder which depiction of the Nativity shows true beauty: A 14th-century Giotto, a 16th-century Barocci or a 20th-century William Congdon. The students are in seventh grade.

Outside Houston, second-graders learn Latin amid the Doric columns, Romanesque arches and the golden Renaissance hues of a gracious brick building.

And in West Tennessee, a first-grade classroom lists virtues - reverence, discipline, diligence and loving kindness - along with Aristotle's "four questions," a simplified version of the Greek philosopher's four causes.

The students attend some of several hundred “classical” schools around the country - institutions designed to reflect the scholarship from the past three millennia of Western civilization, rather than the latest classroom trends.

Classical schools are less concerned about whether students can handle iPads than if they grasp Plato. They generally aim to cultivate wisdom and virtue through teaching students Latin, exposing them to great books of Western civilization and focusing on appreciation of "truth, goodness and beauty." Students are typically held to strict behavioral standards in terms of conduct and politeness, and given examples of characters from history to copy, ranging from the Roman nobleman Cincinnatus to St. Augustine of Hippo.

Parents like them, too; the number of classical schools - public and private - is growing. The curriculum has helped to boost enrollment at religious schools and inspired new public schools.

There are more than 55,000 members on the forums at welltrainedmind.com, a site started by Susan Wise Bauer, an author and educator who in 1999 published “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.” The book has sold more than a half-million copies, and has become a bible for the classical education movement.

Some supporters will gather this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools - an organization of 235 schools with more than 38,000 students. They'll attend workshops about how to delight students with poetry and strategies on how to introduce Van Gogh and Matisse to kindergarteners. Also in June, the Lynchburg, Virginia-based Society for Classical Learning will meet in San Antonio, where seminars focus on everything from rhetoric skills to overviews of ancient and medieval education methods.

For newcomers to the movement, these gatherings can feel like a trip back in time. Don’t look here for discussions on No Child Left Behind; chit-chat in the hallways focuses more on Saint Chrysostom,  Tom Paine and how to make it interesting to modern kids.

“As the movement has grown, there’s been an increasing tendency to define a classical education as ‘This is what Plato or Aristotle would have recognized,’” Bauer said. “But there are whole new fields of knowledge since then. We wouldn’t reproduce their view of women, which was that they shouldn’t get an education. What we’re really doing now is neo-classical education.”

The schools don’t just add a few Latin or Greek classes to a modern curriculum. Classical education methods are a revamp of what it means to be educated. Many modern classical schools divide learning into the trivium of medieval institutions: Grammar, logic and rhetoric.

During the “grammar” years of kindergarten through fourth grade, children memorize facts and poetry, learn the rules of phonics and spelling, explore animal and plant kingdoms, music, basic math and the history of civilization beginning with ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

In the “logic” stage - grades five through eight - children evaluate, analyze, discern and question. They study algebra and how to propose and defend a thesis. They engage in focused discussion, begin to think through arguments and understand cause and effect. They’re still parsing Latin verbs. At St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, the seventh-graders race to see who can write past and future tenses the quickest on individual stylus-like chalk boards.

The “rhetoric” stage - grades nine through 12 - concentrates on applying knowledge and expressing ideas through writing and speaking.

It's different than the typical school, but far from new. The concept of fusing the stages into modern education was popularized by a 1947 essay by British author Dorothy Sayers called “The Lost Tools of Learning.”

“Classical education has never disappeared,” said Christopher Perrin, publisher of Classical Academic Press, based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. “It got eclipsed by the modern education movement starting in the 1890s, but you find these pockets where it’s never gone away.”

Now, the pockets are expanding.

Many classical educators are evangelical Protestants who launched a revival of classical education in the early 1990s. At institutions such as Augustine School in Jackson, Tennessee, prospective students are handed an admission packet that says they’ll be taught “to pursue truth, goodness and beauty through the seven liberal arts and sciences under the universal lordship of Christ.”

The135 students in the low-slung brick building study classical ballet, piano and violin. At the end of each quarter, students recite memorized poems, whole psalms and pieces of the Westminster Catechism, a set of Christian doctrines and beliefs. Students there begin Latin in third grade.

“Classical schools are committed - to some degree - to the importance of the classical languages,” said Brad Green, co-founder of Augustine School. "Students will take several years of Latin and possibly some Greek as these are the languages of Western Christendom.”

In recent years, more and more Roman Catholic schools have joined the movement. This started when, faced with steep enrollment declines, Catholic dioceses around the country began looking for innovative ways to attract students.

Four years ago in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., officials were looking for ways to save St. Jerome, a failing school for students pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.  St. Jerome had to come up with a solution or be one of hundreds of parochial schools across the nation to be closed. Thus, a group of parents, parishioners, scholars and homeschoolers came up with the country’s first-ever Catholic version of the classical curriculum. This 119-page document has detailed objectives for each grade, moral qualities to be acquired and reading lists. The curriculum describes how the “building blocks of learning” can be used in “the shape of the soul.”

The curriculum says the “kind of person we hope would emerge after nine years at St. Jerome would desire truth, understand courage, modesty and prudence and understand what difference God makes to all the facets of the world.”

Today, St. Jerome is a thriving classical academy with quotes about chivalry and other virtues on the hallway walls. Second-graders might wear togas, make laurel wreaths out of paper plates and recite Mark Antony’s 35-line oration from Act III of “Julius Caesar.” First-graders study Aesop’s fables. Pasted on the walls of the seventh-grade classroom is a Joan Didion quote, “Grammar is a piano I play by ear,” and another translated in Latin, “Verbum caro hic factum est: (The Word was made flesh here).”

The school is bursting at the seams, with 130 applications for this coming fall, when it plans to increase enrollment to 300. Catholic schools near Rochester, New York, Denver and Lexington, Kentucky, have adopted St. Jerome’s curriculum and the emerging Catholic classical movement will hold its first conference in July.

"When we started developing a new curriculum, we were trying to save our school," said Mary Pat Donoghue, St. Jerome’s principal. "But now, in an era of growing malaise and cynicism, we're equipping young minds and hearts to save civilization itself."

Rania Rosborough, a doctor who sends three of her children to St. Jerome, said she was less-than thrilled with the instruction she got from public schools while growing up in Maryland. She and her husband wanted more for their kids.

“We liked its chronologic approach to history, the thorough treatment of grammar and training in Latin,” she said. She liked how the school trains kindergartners about ancient Egypt, first-graders about ancient Greece and second-graders about the Roman Empire, onward through history.

“We feel a basic timeline of world history provides context for understanding current events,” she said, “and a fractured presentation of history impedes its lessons.”

Although the majority of classical schools are Christian and conservative, the ideas transfer to schools of all political leanings, said Jonathan Beeson, a Yale Divinity School graduate and former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism and became the principal of St. Theresa Catholic School in Sugar Land, Texas.

“There’s nothing in classical education inherently conservative or liberal,” he said. “And we’re not scared of memorization. Kids need content in their brains and they’re wired to absorb it. You can’t reflect on something if it’s not in your brain in the first place.”

At St. Theresa, students attend classes in buildings designed by ecclesiastical architect Duncan G. Stroik. The Doric columns, airy atrium and white-and-green terrazzo floors import Mediterranean classicism onto the Texas prairie.

“When I saw the plans for this building, I wanted to join this project because the priest here understood the aesthetics necessary for academic formation,” Beeson said.

When his pre-K-through-fifth-grade school starts again in the fall, it will have 160 students. Second-graders learn Greek history with the help of children’s versions of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Latin lessons start in first grade.

“I hope they’ll be reading Latin literature some day,” he said. “That’s the main goal. Kids who understand grammar have a better chance of being writers.”

Educators couldn’t point to independent studies on classical education’s effectiveness. Each year, the Association of Classical and Christian Schools compares the SAT scores of classically educated students with national statistics. The class of 2012 averaged 621 in reading, 606 in writing and 597 in math, scores much higher than the national average. A 2011 survey of its member schools’ alumni showed that 98.3% attended college. Of those students, 34.8% attended a Christian university. Their top secular picks were Georgia Tech, the University of Southern California and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Most schools report that their graduates are very competitive, and many enter selective colleges,” said Classical Academic Press’ Perrin, who blogs out of insideclassicaled.com.

The idea is catching on with parents and educators alike. Some school systems have adopted classical models in public charter schools. Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado, got into the act with Ridgeview Classical Schools, a K-12 charter school. It's ranked 103 in the country on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best high schools.

In the Phoenix area, there is Great Hearts Academies, a network of 16 public charter classical schools. The schools' stress that even their students’ down time, like their after-school dances, must be classical in nature. One of the "philosophical pillars" on its site states: “We believe, with Plato, that the highest goal of education is to become good, intellectually and morally.”

And Hillsdale College, a private, liberal arts institution in southern Michigan, is starting up classical charter schools around the country with funding from the Barney Family Foundation. It opened schools in Moriarty, New Mexico; and Lewisville, Texas; last fall. A third will open this fall in Savannah, Georgia, and four more are planned for Atlanta, Las Vegas, Columbus, Ohio; and Naples, Florida.

"A comment I constantly hear is 'I want my child to learn to think' and that is what we specialize in. Our children memorize reams of grammar, Scripture, history facts and chants; things people don't bother to do any more," said Seth Drown, dean of academic affairs for Augustine School in Tennessee, where enrollment has increased every year for the past decade. "What education needs to have is knowledge, skill and understanding. Most people think education is about the first one on that list. But knowledge is just the platform for the other two.

"Deep down, don't we all want meaning in life? It's when you step back and look at the big picture, that is when meaning gets attached to learning. And that is what we all desperately want."

What do you think? Would you consider a classical education curriculum for your child? Share your thoughts in the comments or  @CNNschools on Twitter.

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Filed under: education • Homeschooling • How we learn • Religion
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. amycalloway

    Our school is San Luis Obispo Classical Academy. We are non-sectarian based classical model of education. We have an incredible school (for preschool through high school) that teaches kids how to love to learn and think critically. Our kids come out of this school prepared to handle whatever direction they choose in life. While we are not a super tech school we do feel that technology is important and are thinking of ways to present both.


    July 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  2. simplyput

    Since too much tech can cause early *digital dimentia* , the private schools have it right. Teach a child to read...a book.

    June 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  3. Person of Interest

    I'm curious as to why you can't have both the iPad and a classical education. 20 years ago at my Catholic school we had one computer room and it was right next to the art room. I learned how to write Caligraphy in the art room from a 85 year old nun and learned how to navigate DOS from a 26 year old teacher. Heck right now Rossetta Stone, the language learning computer program, has a Latin course (I think).

    Technology doesn't have to take away things from the classroom, it can in fact add to it. The problem is standards of conduct, respect of teachers, and politicians not understanding the difference between knowledge and understanding, have all plummeted.

    I'd like to see this same method be tried in the inner city areas of the country. It's easy to teach students that want to learn and whose parents have a vested interest in them. Most schools need adaptive teaching styles and the ability to inspire students to learn. Trust me, that 85 year old Caligraphy teaching nun did not inspire much. This isn't about stone tablet learning vs. computer tablet learning, its about technique and thought in the educational system.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  4. rj

    “As the movement has grown, there’s been an increasing tendency to define a classical education as ‘This is what Plato or Aristotle would have recognized,’” Bauer said. “But there are whole new fields of knowledge since then. We wouldn’t reproduce their view of women, which was that they shouldn’t get an education. What we’re really doing now is neo-classical education.”

    The basic point in this quote is well-taken, but let's not spread misinformation about Plato to make it.

    June 25, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  5. ohioan

    My kids attend parochial school and are doing well. I wish I lived near a classical school because I can see how my 10 grader son would have done really well there. They attend the same school I attended. I went on to college in the biological sciences and did better than many of my classmates due to my foundation in science in grade school and high school (yes, parochial schools teach modern sciences) and my understanding of spanish and a little latin made all those scientific terms easier to understand.

    June 25, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  6. Admin

    As an administrator in a public school I can honestly say that all of you are both right and wrong. Unfortunately, articles like this one tend to focus on one facet of the educational system. Technology is a tool, nothing more. As a former math teacher, I am angry that standards have completely defined the scope and sequence of a course. I would routinely ask other teachers why topics, concepts or processes were not covered in prerequisite courses. Their response was always, "it's not a power standard." I applaud and support proactive parents that want the best for their child. I also applaud public school teachers for continuing to struggle through this process and try to give all students, not just those screened and selected, a quality education. Those of you who attack schools and teachers need to understand we have been handcuffed by politicians as to what we can cover and how long we can spend on a topic. If you need proof then search for your state education web site and then search for Common Core Standard or something similar. Print them out and then compare and contrast the curriculum with the private school's curriculum. Remember, public schools are bound by ed code to teach the standards. I wonder what the population of special needs children is at these schools. Also, how are students with discipline concerns handled? What accommodations/modifications to the curriculum does the school make for students not able to keep up? A couple of questions. What is the primary job of a politician? What significant contributions to our society have politicians made in the last 20 years?

    June 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • athensguy

      and I, sir, applaud you

      June 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Momma

      As the mother of classical christian-educated girls, who started in "good" public schools, I had no choice but to be forced into finding a better option than what local public schools offered my girls. Prior to this experience, I always thought people who paid a lot of good money to send their kids to private school were crazy, especially in "good" school districts. I don't think it was the public school's fault initially, but they did not handle the situation well, which made it exponentially worse. They are very limited in what they are allowed to do anymore and are forced to educate everyone by certain ridiculous, standards. Oh, and teachers can't be fired??? Really? Unfortunately, for us that meant they had to educate the extreme bully that assualted my daughters (an many others). Our family and others were threatened by the bully's family. They told me that it wasn't really a problem (3 families moved from the school over this!). For me that was just enough. I could not tolerate feeling like I might throw up when I had to set foot in my kid's school. And I didn't think it was healthy to want to hurt people their either (the bully's mom was hired to work in the school after the principal was very aware of our situation). We made a major lifestye adjustement in the face of a recession to make classical christian education happen for my kids. Only after administrators refused our request to try to sent our kids to another school in the district. Money well spent! I also just had a great experience working with the public school special ed process for my private schooled daughter. I finally got something for my tax dollars! I don't think public school vs. private school efforts really need to be at odds with each other in anyway. They can work beautifuly together. However, I needed to keep my kids safe. I am glad I found a private classical christian school to teach them in ways they could never have experienced in public school. Everything we went through turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Public school is what it is (good and bad), but for families that went through what we did, its nice to have other options.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • reginac

      BRAVO. As a former administrator in a public school district, I couldn't agree more with you. The vitriol directed at public schools and teachers astounds and appalls me. Standards are set by legislative bodies, voted in by the very citizens who abuse public ed. If they/you/we want public ed to change, those in the places of power who determine the actions of public ed must be held accountable to what they/you/we want/expect. Public school will never be "the same" as private/parochial school until those schools accept all students; regardless of ethnicity, ability, level of parent engagement and income. When that happens, the whole dialogue about education can change. When educators; private OR public, are free to teach according to their calling and, truly, the needs of each child are taken into account (from remedial to acceleration), education will change. Until then......

      June 25, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • Tammy

        If the student is unable to pass an entrance exam to enter the school, then maybe that student needs tutoring until they can pass it. Why shouldn't classical educators expect all their students to be able to keep up intellectually? I couldn't attend these schools, myself, as I know I do not have the intellectual capabilities. It wouldn't be fair to anyone to let a student go there who wasn't on the same intellectual level as most of the other students. It wouldn't even be fair to the student, themselves. These schools have certain standards as they should.

        June 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • see both sides

      Well said!

      June 25, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • solex

      One thing I would have hoped to see from a career educator is the use of the paragraph to separate your ideas and not come off as rambling.

      People need to pause when they read something to allow a new start for a different thought process.

      June 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  7. Barnabas

    I just graduated from a classical homeschool co-op called Classical Conversations. The last four years of school were an incredible experience as my friends and I explored deep issues and grew together. It's really true that the classical model trains minds to think, reason, and debate. As I get older, I find many of my peers to be incapable of holding an intelligent discussion, or absolutely inarticulate when it comes to defending something they care about. I've read the classics, studied art and music, and through it all, glimpsed the potential that mankind has for excellence. It's sad to see the level of apathy and acceptance of mediocrity that many people, young and old, have today. I'm just one voice, but I can say for sure that Classical Conversations is the major reason why I care at all. I can't recommend classical education enough.

    June 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  8. wisemommy

    My child attends a Classical Education charter school in Minnesota. Being a charter school gives it the best of both worlds (IMHO); it is free like a public school, and not rooted in religion like a parochial school. My son spent 7 years in the public school system, bored to tears. They teach for the standards on the State and National tests, because that is in large part how they maintain funding. These were very good public schools, in very good metro suburbs. They had wonderful teachers; unfortunately, they spent 98% of their time teaching to the middle of the bell curve, and helping the stragglers keep up with the middle. “No child left behind”, unless it was one of the smart ones, who wandered away in boredom. In a class of 28-35 students, they rarely had time left over for the few kids at the top. We started looking at charter school options, because I couldn’t afford private school, and parochial school just didn’t “fit” for us. My son was intrigued by the classical education curriculum, and was excited at the opportunity to study Latin. Classical Education does NOT mean outdated education. Eagle Ridge Academy has a wonderfully diverse curriculum. The school balances the arts, literature and history with math and science. He just finished Physics as a 10th grader, as well as his 4th year of Latin. Latin may be a dead language; however, learning the structure and rules of Latin, his grasp and use of proper English has increased tenfold. It has also made learning German a breeze, and next he wants to tackle Mandarin. He has read literate that I didn’t read until college, and he can discuss the laws of Physics and the importance of the Higgs Boson particle. He and his fellow students engage in lively discussions, moderated by the teachers, and they must substantiate their arguments or be quickly overruled. They have been taught to think, to analyze, to compare and to contrast diverse ideas. In 4 years, he has only seen “bubble tests” during mandated State/National testing. Every other test requires actual written work, be it a geometry proof or an essay answer. There are no multiple guess questions at ERA. Am I worried about cutting edge technology? No. He lives in a world of technology, and he uses his tablet, his smart phone, his cloud and his computer for his schoolwork and leisure activities like any other 15 yr old. Plato and iPads can coexist wonderfully, if you have an open mind.

    June 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Katie

      The problems I have with your "free" charter schools are these: they funnel money right out of public schools which are already struggling, they do not have to be held to the curricular, academic, and other standards that regulate public schools, they choose their students carefully, (even the ones with a lottery will screen out 'non-qualified') and they will do their best to get rid of the ones that are troublesome or have difficulty academically. This means public schools have a disproportionately higher amount of special needs and troubled kids – which by law they MUST teach and they MUST show progress for – and they have less funding to do it with. Go ahead, brag about your charter school education. Just remember you've taken away from your public school students to achieve it.

      June 25, 2013 at 5:50 am |
      • Linda

        So you would deny a child who has been blessed with a sharper mind, who is bored in school, and whose parents see more potential, the right to a "Classical Education" because yours can't do that for some reason. Why must everyone accept that the government is the one taking the money from your school to put somewhere else...not the classical school. The school my grandchildren attend is funded through Hillsdale College and a family trust...and it is not a private school....a public school charter. Do your homework!!! Don't just assume where the money is coming from.

        July 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • A True Conservative

      Ah! Our local public school district attempted to separate students into three groups below average, average and above average ability to learn. What a firestorm that started! I had never realized that every student is above average and brilliant....in their parents eyes. So the district went back to the same old same old. We have achieved declining mediocrity!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  9. Martin Robinson

    There are fundamental problems with the approach to the trivium that follows the Dorothy L Sayers/Wise Bauer method, one to do with the idea that we pass through the three stages as we mature and secondly in the interpretation of the "logic stage" being purely about logic (need to investigate not only logic but dialectic and logos too.) The trivium as the basis of the liberal arts is about free thinking not closed minds and can therefore enable the criticism as well as acceptance, or degrees thereof of any orthodoxy.

    I am the author of Trivium 21st Century currently on sale in the UK, due to be published in the US in September
    available on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Trivium-21st-Century-Preparing-Lessons/dp/178135054X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372092953&sr=8-1&keywords=martin+robinson+trivium+21

    June 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  10. Manturo

    The comments criticizing this article only illustrate the need for a classical education that teaches children to think and not regurgitate "facts" a la modern spin doctors on political "news" shows.

    June 24, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Robert Gonzalez

      The key component of classical education is it teaches one how to reason logically. If you understand the early Greek philosophers you would understand my statement.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  11. CptStupid

    And what does this have to do with iPads? You could have easily said Children choose Plato or Bubble Gum.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • athensguy

      I think you could have used a bit of the darn classical education

      June 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  12. Lauren

    I feel like many of the commenters did not understand the article they read. A classical education teaches kids to think for themselves. It teaches them to question. Ever hear of the Socratic method? It's a well tested theory of education that goes back centuries and has nothing to do with filling in bubbles on a standardized test. All those Facebook and Google geniuses studied the classics and had a Montessori education.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  13. SmagBoy1

    Critical thinking and adherence to contemporary Christian dogma are incompatible.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • GBTNN

      Atheism (true atheism, that is) and morality are incompatible

      June 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
      • OhPlease

        Hardly. How arrogant of you, but then again, typical.

        June 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Katie

        Christianity, as followed by far too many in this country, is hardly moral.

        June 25, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • Mary

      Smugboy–you obviously haven't a clue.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Hamlet

      You must be educated beyond your intelligence.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  14. blueskiesmom

    Our family sent all four of our children through classical, Christian schools. They became graduates of Texas A&M, Hillsdale College, The Air Force Academy and the youngest is now at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. Two went on to work for the President of the United States, one is a helicopter rescue pilot and two are married to Air Force Academy grads. But, more importantly, they are people who know how to think for themselves and make a contribution to their generation and their culture...and they're just plain fun to be with. Part of their success is the classical training, but their character comes from the Christian training. I delivered newspapers at first to pay for their tuition and then leaned how to teach Latin to help pay for their education. These schools got off the "modern education" failing treadmill that enriches school consultants and textbook companies and went back to what worked for thousands of years in western civilization that produced some of the greatest thinkers in the world. I can't recommend more strongly to get your kids out of government schools as fast as you can. Get a paper route – it's worth it!

    June 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • David

      Regarding this article your point is?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • jp0

      Christian schools that teach dogma as fact can't be good for intellectual development.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:40 am |
      • Mary

        Self-evident truth v. moral relativism or truth versus lies or fact versus political correctness.

        June 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Jonathan

        jp0 I do believe that Religious school are the last bastion for philosophical discussions concerning such essential questions as the difference between a fact and an opinion. You comment feels like you would be completely ignorant of that rich philosophical discussion. Maybe not? Classical schools are oriented to always ask the question behind the more obvious questions and or stated assumptions. Religion doesn't hurt philosophical inquiry; it fuels it. Secular schools have jettisoned philosophy as well as religion because the two go hand in hand. Especially now with our politically correct multicultural secularism–its to scared to ask any hard questions because it doesn't want to offend. It has given up the idea of truth entirely... in such an environment, its best not to think to deeply. As someone who loves religiously based classical education, its the public schools that look like mindless indoctrination to me. Of course i don't fault–like you seem to be doing–any educational system for its in-ductive qualities: all education is inherently inductive and therefore in-doctrination. What I find objectionable is an induction into a mindless "shame culture" which has lost its way from our cultures' long heritage of rational discourse.

        June 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • jp0

        It's better to discuss the origins of the universe from the perspective of scientific knowledge than to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

        June 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Liam

      Obviously classical education worked out pretty well for this family!

      June 24, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Lauren

      Classical and Christian are not necessarily the same thing. Actually I don't understand why they are being lumped together since a classical education has nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with questioning, not accepting dogma...

      June 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • chelle

        I agree. I would love my child to get a classical education, however, not at the expense of going to a "Christian" school. We can read Plato and Socrates ourselves thank you.

        June 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Mary

        Aristotle read Moses.

        June 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Hamlet

        You can't separate them completely, because the truths of the classical works parallels Christian belief

        June 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Katie

      I homeschooled my son in 9th grade and used a Christian-Latin science program as part of the curriculum. After about six weeks into the program, when we studied the chapter on what a great Christian Sir Isaac Newton was and read about the concept of "gravitrons", I skipped ahead to see if this sort of nonsense was part of the chapter's test, and if it was at all related to thinking about real science. It wasn't, and we dumped the program. So much for Christian-Latin version of science. Not only did that particular program NOT utilize the Socratic method (the very foundation of Science), it made no mention of the concept of Scientific Theory.

      June 25, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • Linda

      Good for you!!! Congratulations on the achievements of all your children!!

      July 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Nathan

    I'm a professor at a large state university. I wouldn't design a curriculum and pedagogy exactly like the one described here. It would be more "modern" in several respects. I would want more science and a basic introduction to statistics and probability that would prepare for college. However, what is described here is so far superior to what students in public schools receive these days that I would recommend this kind of education to anyone, and I would prefer it for my own children. The schools are lost–jerked around in every conceivable way by federal and state governments. The students are assessed incessantly, and the assessment industry controls way too much of what happens to children. The education schools are intellectual wastelands; often their entire curriculum is stipulated by agencies external to the school itself. The kind of education that is described here is not easy to get without special supervision and teaching. Much of what is taught in schools these days is accessible through other media. The most important variable overall remains the individual teacher, and the morale in the schools is so low these days, and teachers have such little autonomy anyway, that there is not much ground for hope there. It would be interesting to know more about the experience of teachers in these programs.

    June 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Elisabeth

      I absolutely agree with you! I went to public school through high school and was bored silly. I attended a Jesuit college, however, and studied the classics (I was a Classical Studies major). Talk about an eye-opening experience. I read philosophy, learned Latin and Classical Greek, learned to appreciate art and music. I went there for a Renaissance education and I got one. Then I went to law school, passed the bar and became a practicing lawyer. My college education is with me every day in the form of logic training and an expanded world view. This kind of background is golden and creates a truly educated person.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  16. estheraspling

    Not to be left out, but this is also a big movement in homeschooling as well.
    These kids aren't going to fall behind in technology, they are still kids.
    We haven't adhered to the whole train of thought, but we do love incorporating a LOT of good literature into our learning.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  17. Lesley Beth

    “Those who don't know must learn from those who do.” I love Plato and I love iPads – I just disagree with educators who appear to take iPads and apps as their turnaround focus – today, kids need both. And for those who think Plato is irrelevant, just turn your mind to this quote from The Republic: "“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” How 21st century is that!

    June 23, 2013 at 3:07 am |
    • pismire

      Our education as a nation has suffered directly because of technology and the reliance on it to do the job of the teachers. Teachers can not figure out why kids are doing poorly, so they are trying to teach kids multiple ways to do the same things before any of those ways has actually sunk in, confusing the kids.Teacher's spend more time printing out "lessons" from the internet, and then sending kids home with it instead of teaching it in class. They spend more time creating "presentations' to display on fancy apple mac's or ipads in the classroom believing that their silly slideshows and video montage's some how do a superior job of teaching then a traditional teacher in a classroom. They expect parent's to pick up their slack. I have news for teachers: You are paid to teach, not parents. It is your responsibility to teach our children that is why we send them to you. Teach them to read, write, and do math. That's all they need. They don't need a video wall. They don't need iApps. They shouldn't be spending so much time using technology. Not until their basic building blocks have been built. There's plenty of time in middleschool, highschool, or at home for them to use technology. And if you teacher's think you're teaching kids "how to use computers" in the process, you're silly. None of what you're teaching them translates to them knowing "how to use a computer".

      June 23, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • Jeff

        You're pointing your finger at the wrong people. The only reason teachers use technology, and video presentation, and the like are because the are forced into doing so by the districts that they teach in. The school districts are spending piles of money on technology for the classroom and the teachers are being forced to use it.

        June 23, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • Lauren

        You are insane...it is your job to take up the school's slack. What do you want to do, drop your kid off everyday and, well, you're done! Even the best school in the nation has an expectation that parents will be working with the children at home, exposing them to culture, reading, etc. Parents like you are what is wrong because you lay all the responsibility at the school's doorstep and take none of it yourself.

        June 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
      • Barbara

        THANK YOU! Very well said and much appreciated!

        June 24, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • dante

        I really hope that you are not involved in teaching your children how to spell! Ranting against schools but not being able to write a proper plural form of "parent," among many other mistakes – how should I take your points seriously?

        June 26, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • dante

        oops – plural of "teacher" – parents you actually got right for a change!

        June 26, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • dante

        well, one of the times . . .

        June 26, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  18. albie

    poor kids

    June 23, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • bluto182

      That money pours in because the government doesn't want children to think. It wants to create a generation of automatons that won't question authority. The future can only be saved by our children and they must be taught the truth and given the wisdom to stand fast in an era of lies.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • AL

        "the government doesn't want children to think. It wants to create a generation of automatons that won't question authority."

        Replace "government" with "church", and I'd agree with you.

        June 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  19. jp0

    Sounds like good preparation for a career looking for an answer to the eternal question "Do you want fries with that?"

    June 22, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • BillX

      Thank you for choosing McDonalds drive thru. Would you like to try a hot apple pie with your extra value meal today?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • albie

      oh man that was a good one

      June 23, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • MJ

      It's funny you are critical of what people learn at these schools, because apparently you can't read very carefully. Did you miss the part in the article that said "Each year, the Association of Classical and Christian Schools compares the SAT scores of classically educated students with national statistics. The class of 2012 averaged 621 in reading, 606 in writing and 597 in math, SCORES MUCH HIGHER than the national average."

      June 23, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • jp0

        I don't remember what my SAT scores were, but I'm not sure they are relevant. Any education biased by religious"facts" is inherently faulty.

        June 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  20. Cat Skill

    Why bother with Greek philosophers? If their philosophers were any good, would their economy be like it is today?

    June 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Ruby

      Well Cat, maybe the problem is that modern movers and shakers didn't study those philosophers.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
      • chelle


        June 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  21. Madison

    I'm thrilled that these schools are teaching kids HOW to think rather than WHAT to think. Plato in the second grade?? Sign my (future) kids up!!

    Though I notice that these schools seem to all be parochial. I wonder if any exist that don't rely on a religious foundation. As someone who will bring up her children non-religious, I'd love to enroll them in a "classical" school without also being taught religion as truth.

    June 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • harvarddreaming

      There are many of them; I currently attend one.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • jp0

      If the parents do their job and don't rely on the schools to educate their children there will be no problem coming up with the next generation of critical thinkers.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  22. Canadian Teacher

    The content is different but the methodologies. I have been teaching like this in Canada for the last 15 years. Sorry, but nothing ground-breaking here....

    June 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • veritasetlux2

      You've been teaching Latin, logic and rhetoric in Canadian public schools the last 15 years? And I don't mean a chapter in a social studies book, but actually studying these subjects on their own. If so, good for your school! It IS new around here.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
      • lere

        he said the content is differant, no useless latin. He meant the Methodology, the how to think stuff.

        June 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • Peter

        I can see why you're confused about this teacher's comment... interesting sentence construction haha.

        June 23, 2013 at 12:25 am |
      • Snetterton

        Latin is by no means useless. Want a solid vocabulary? Study Latin. Want to be able to piece together the meaning of text in half the languages you'll be exposed to? Latin again. A grounding in Latin shows you the incredible dynamism and elegance of language. Add in some classical Greek, and suddenly most scientific and medical jargon makes some degree of sense to you even without direct training in those fields. It really does open doors and let you peek behind the curtain of rote memorization and the dull surface-appearance of things that most people limit themselves to.

        June 23, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  23. Kittu Pannu

    Reblogged this on The Many (Mis-)Adventures of Kittu Pannu and commented:
    I'd definitely want my child to go to a Classical school. The tech stuff I can teach after school, but the critical thought and ethics, values? That right there is priceless.

    June 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  24. gene grossman

    Getting a classical education is great, but somewhere in the curriculum there should be some mundane subjects that explain the difference between multiplication and division, and how to balance a checkbook.

    June 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • veritasetlux2

      That's the quadrivium. This article does not exhaust the material taught in classical education. It's there!

      June 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • blueskiesmom

      Do you seriously think these kids are getting into Georgia Tech and the Academies (engineering schools) and don't know this? Think it through.

      June 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • RAE

      Both my sons go to a classical school, my 3rd grader is mastering basic algebra and my Pre-Kindergartner is already learning basic addition and subtraction. And no "funny math tricks" they are learning it by memorizing math facts and the concepts behind how math works.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  25. bigducksfan

    The most important factor for any child's education, more than having he latest tech or "classic" curriculum, whether its public school, private school, homes school, is having parents with higher education and higher incomes. Parents make it happen.

    June 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • LearningLudditef

      No doubt about it!

      June 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Damien

      The biggest problem I see with this article is that the author is a specialty in religious studies and education so naturally there's going to be one side to this. The world is moving in a new direction, not to say some aspects of classic learning are awful, but denying what is moving things in this world forward is also putting on blinders to advancements for mankind.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • veritasetlux2

        If you educate a child for the world that is, he will be unprepared for the world that will be. Teach a child to think and he can adapt as time passes and technology changes.

        June 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • Bill Marvel

        Damien - "The world is moving in a new direction"
        The question is, Is it the right direction, for whom, and how do we know? Those are questions that only a classical education can prepare a student to ask - and answer,

        June 23, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • veritasetlux2

      Income has nothing to do with anything. I know wealthy parents who aren't involved in their child's education, and I know homeschooling parents with very little money who turn out well educated children.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      • Cheryl

        I'm in Chicago, and statistically speaking, income has A LOT to do with everything – particularly education and future success. Overall, the US education system is pretty jacked up, but I don't know of another place where it's more on display than at Chicago Public Schools.

        June 22, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • harvarddreaming

      Though it is much easier for a child from a wealthy family to get an exceptional education, it is possible for anyone. As an example, I'll tell you my story. My parents have taken out loans from many people and banks, so they could send me to a private school that gives me a classical education. In no way is my family wealthy. I'm now being challenged for the first time in my school career, and I'm learning more than I could have even imagined before coming to this school. I'm reading books in my class that would normally be read three years later in public school. If a parent wants to send their child to a good school, they will make it happen.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  26. t3chsupport

    You could put not only Plato on an ipad... but all of sacred-texts. c o m

    June 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  27. c_rob_16

    Five bucks evolution isn't in their science curriculum.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Sam

      I teach at one of the schools mentioned above and you might be surprised to hear that we teach five or six different views of the origin of the universe, and endorse none of them. Instead, we strive to teach kids the basic facts regarding all the views and how to ask questions and decide for themselves. Kids write essays which compare and contrast the different views rather than learn to praise one view as "enlightenend" and the other as "moronic." You might also be surprised to hear that we also teach Karl Marx - AND Adam Smith.

      Classical schools teach philosophy, and not agendas. This is what separates the movement from schools whose pedagogical methods derive from John Dewey's thought–whether they be religious or secular. Learn before criticizing. This is a method of pedagogy, not an agenda.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
      • Cheryl

        I wish I went to one of these schools. I was so obnoxiously bored in grade school. I was a smart kid (what happened since then, I don't know) and wasn't challenged at all. Sigh.

        June 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • veritasetlux2

      Unlike public schools, classical schools actually teach their children to think. Which means they are open to teaching ALL ideas, not just the handpicked ideas that the gov't chooses to force down our children's throats. I guarantee you classical students study a lot more non-Christian religions than public school students too.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • ElleryQueen

      Untrue. I homeschool using the Classical method and all sciences are covered. BOTH sides for argument's sake are presented and given to the student to make up their own mind. Also, this method of teaching children need not have any particular religion attached. We follow a Christian Latin text because of the pronunciation differences, otherwise we are non-denominational. For those wondering about math: My daughter is going into ninth grade and is up to algebra II. The math program we have used all along includes practical math, i.e. Balancing your checkbook, etc.

      June 23, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • Kevin

        But it's a mistake to put evolution on one side of the "how did life get to the way it is" and, frankly, *anything* on the other side. Evolutionary theory is the only one supported by evidence. The other arguments are based on things like an argument from ignorance ("we don't know how it got that complex, so God must have done it") or basically an argument from authority or popularity ("a lot of people have a different idea, so that idea deserves to be considered"), which are basically logical fallacies that have no impact on how likely the idea is to be true.

        This is not to say that evolutionary theory has complete answers and explanations to all of the questions, but I think it is a mistake to "teach the other side" just because the other side exists, and to adopt the idea that all viewpoints are worth equal weight – they're not, and the point of logical thought, critical thinking, and evidence is to sort out which ones are worth considering.

        If the child asks WHY the other sides aren't presented – that's a good question and it deserves an answer. But I think it would be doing them a disservice to waste time in the classroom "teaching" intelligent design or what-have-you as an "alternative" to evolution.

        June 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Rob B.

      It is at Ridgeview. Please feel free to check out our website: http://www.ridgeviewclassical.com

      June 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  28. hiimback1

    This is great. I think that iPads are of little importance to worry about, you use it, you don't, whatever. But the curriculum is brilliant. It works with the mind and disciplinary policies that keep kids in line. It encourages critical thinking, something public schools discourage at heart-I have a blog about it, but it gets political, so I won't say everything, I don't want to start that. The best parts of this school-at least in my mind, is encouraging thinking for yourself-and thinking well, and then discipline. If you walk into a random classroom at my school, you will see how important discipline is-its essential in every sense of the word.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Loubies

      At your school? I hope you're not hinting that you are a teacher. It terrifies me that someone with your lack of grammar skills is teaching our children.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
      • realist

        I'm sure, Loubies, that you're truly an intellectual tyrannosaurus, but, the problems are with punctuation, not grammar.

        June 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  29. Lawless4U

    What a ridiculous article. The reason schools use iPads is because in the long run they are a lot cheaper than textbooks.

    At first I thought Plato was a new tablet from some obscure manufacturer.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Loubies

      Then it is you who is ridiculous, not the article.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
      • Obtuse philosopher

        Loubies, an abtruse philosopher.

        June 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
      • ted

        Obtuse or abstruse (with an "s")?

        June 23, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  30. Paul

    Sounds great but I don't see why you can't read the classics on a tablet, I do and it seems particularly suited to it.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  31. Alberto Leandro LLaryora

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    June 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  32. Sherry Maysonave

    Why should schools, classical educaton systems or otherwise, choose between Plato and an iPad? Whatever the educational approach, today's kids will have to compete in their future world, which technology will play a huge role. What's more, today's kids are riveted by digital devices. Why not tap this power? Parents and teachers can use the benefits of technology as a teaching tool in the classroom and homes by limiting screen time, and by carefully selecting e-products that have high-educational value with some entertaining qualities to keep kids engaged. The right eBooks and e-learning programs can supply Brain Vitamins to kids, can be far more than digital pacifiers.

    June 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • deep blue

      "which technology will play a huge role"
      I hear this claim a lot from people that aren't working in a STEM field. The Ipad is just an interface. Students don't need to learn how to use a specific interface. They need to learn logic, how to think, so that they can figure out how to use many interfaces on their own without help. if you want to teach kids an interface for the sake of that interface, teach them command line. A powerful weapon, from a more civilized age.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Loubies


        June 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  33. Susan

    I find it odd that conservative Christians would embrace an educational system based on logic and critical thinking, when these things are frowned upon in their religion, which emphasizes acceptance and blind faith.

    June 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • LearningLuddite

      True and scary at same time!

      June 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Carla

      This shows that you do not know us as well as you think you do.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • Lawless4U

        No what it proves is that you live in little bubble and you have to keep telling yourself lies to act superior.

        June 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Lindsey

      There are plenty of Christians who think, and think well.

      We homeschool our kids using mostly classical methods (though not with as much classical content as expressed in this article), and I suspect the main we'll reason we'll stick with it (classical, either through private school or homeschool) is because I want my kids to take formal logic in middle school.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • BK

      Actually, the classical christian school education my girls recieve is more open and encourages them to critically think more so than public schools. Believe it or not evoluition was part of the 7th grade science class taught by a phd in chemistry who spent most of his career in the pharma industry. I would dare say there would be lawsuits by the "open minded" critics if ideas that didn't match their beliefs were taught in public schools. He also had group of adults read and discuss Francis Collins (was a director of NIH andk leader of the Human Genome Project) book The Language of God which has some interesting ideas and is science based. Good read, you may enjoy it

      June 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • BK

        And you mention blind faith. What would also be interesting would be to see how many parents without faith encourage their teenagers to investigate relgion so the kid can come to their own conclusion based on research and evidence or whether they would prefer their kids "blindly" folllow their lack of faith.

        June 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • DawnC

      I think you might need to dive into church history a bit. It's an odd claim to make considering the thinkers like Augustine, Newton, and Descarte who were driven by their Christian faith and contributions to intellectual life of organizations like Oxford, Cambridge and the Jesuits. I'm always curious what picture folks who make comments like yours have in their heads or Christians and what their history education looked like.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bosco

      Let me guess, Susan...you went to public school.

      Good luck with that.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • veritasetlux2

      Susan, this is just not true. Christians teach apologetics, and are the leading force for enlightenment in the world. It is progressivism and public schools who teach children on blind faith with no logic or reasoning. They are the ones driving us back to the Dark Ages. They are stuck in Plato's Cave. Christians keep trying to pull them out of the cave but they resist.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • gg

      It was the Catholic Church which preserved the Greek and Roman writings.

      June 23, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  34. CESSIE


    June 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  35. Arnold McMahon

    The problem here goes much deeper. We are going through the greatest single change in human culture. For the first time in human history, the dominant philosophy of our society – at least in the West – is a materialist one – that everything can be explained in material terms. This overturns all previous cultures which believed – but not necessarily lived by – the belief that everything could not be explained in material terms – e.g. Plato. I explore this in my recent book "The Most Important Crisis Facing the 21st. Century". If we devoted as much time to teaching students to be kind, truthful, honest etc., as we do in the STEM subjects, the world would be a better place. What is the use of a world full of all sorts of amazing gadgets if we blow ourselves up?

    June 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • clinky

      AuthorHouse is a vanity press, sorry.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • veritasetlux2

      God created the material world and declared it to be very good. Plato's philosophy is interesting, but damaging to Christianity. It is certainly worthy to be studied, since so many people are indeed Platonists.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  36. MrX

    Wow, a bunch of Christian homeschoolers got together and decided that teaching kids Latin was the best way to teach them to "desire truth"? Sounds legit. I'm sure China is really scared that our Latin-speaking geniuses will out-think their engineers.

    The SAT score and GPA argument is disingenous, these are all private schools attended by affluent Caucasians, ie not a comparable population to those who attend public school.

    June 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • kzooresident

      Please offer some detail on why affluent Caucasians are prone to higher SAT scores & GPA. Is it a genetic, advantage, cultural factor or combination of both?

      June 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • clinky

      MrX, The Chinese are grounded in their own classics as a matter of course. Maybe it's not a bad idea to give our own kids an education in the backbone language of the Western world.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bosco

      You're right, Mr. X! These don't reflect kids in public school.

      as we say in Latin: Q.E.D. (English translation: American public schools are crap and you're ignorant.)

      June 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  37. clinky

    I think you need to strike a balance between classical values and diversity. These days, there is too much emphasis on the latter, and the result is that practically everything is taught to be valuable and justifiable. Critical discernment is needed. No, not everything cultural is of equal worth, but every culture has something essential to contribute. The classical literature and art of the West and the Far East have held up well and remain relevant today for good reason, because they are intellectually rigorous, ask profound questions and demonstrate deep wisdom–not over everything, but they examine what is intrinsically human. I'd like to see a school teach a broad range of classics from around the world, not just from the Western tradition. I think that would be exciting for students, parents and their community.

    June 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  38. James Traiinor

    Why teach Plato, Socrates and the Odyssey when they are learning better things like American Top Idols, All about the Kardashian clan, the latest iPad video games where all kids can see how cool is to kill someone with assault weaponry, and the latest on Selena Gomez and Bieber. Lets keep it that way. We have the worse education of any top nation and much worse than most nations in Latin America, BTW Cuba education is much higher than ours. YEAP give the iPad and iPhone back to Charlie, Billy and little Susie and lets keep burying what once was a GREAT education for we don't want to loose that honor to any other nation. BTW ask your 7th or 11th grader what is the capital of Panama, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, China, Turkey, Moldavia and for extra points ask them where they are located. OOPS i forgot dear parents don't know those things either.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  39. Pil

    I would agree that a classical education is a pretty good model, especially when it can incorporate modern technology and science, however what was described here still seems like it would be fairly limited in its scope to classical western civilization. I'm not decrying western civilization for it is a fine grounding, unless you live in a globalized world like we do today.

    If a school could as readily incorporate the underlying ideas and concepts of multiple cultures who play an increasing influence of western lives, such as those of Confucius, Gandhi, Mohammad, or the Buddha, and give attention to the classical authors of other cultures such as Murasaki Shikibu, Rabindranath Tagore, and Jalal ad-Dīn Rumi, then I think that these kids will have strong foundations for dealing with a world of 7-10 billion who may have different worldviews, and may sometimes be their bosses, coworkers/colleagues, subordinates, and clients.

    Plato is great, Spinoza is great, Newton and Galileo are great, but so is Muhammad Iqbal, and so is Nagarjuna, and so is Sima Qian

    June 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • lwest

      The term "western civilization" goes back to the beginning of a "civilized man", and is long before many of the authors, philosophers and thinkers etc., that you mention. The message in this article is to teach basics of thinking, rationalizing and socializing skills that are becoming more and more scarce with each generation. Scientists have stated that man is the "only" rational being on earth and that is what separates them from the animal kingdom. If the classics, no matter from what civilization they come from are no taught and remembered, "civilized" man will most likely cease to exist.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  40. cc

    The purpose of schools is to teach children to think. The Web can do that if the teachers want it to-basically it starts by teaching children to distrust/ask for proof of what others tell them. Unfortunately 'others' includes teachers-so few teachers really try to teach children to think. Instead they teach them to believe-and that leads to problems. One thing most of the classical philosophers did-those that have withstood the test of time at least-is question 'revealed' wisdom. That makes classical schools better at teaching children to think-but it still requires that the teachers want to teach them that.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • maine liberal

      Question Authority

      Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. Jefferson

      June 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • SmagBoy1

      How do you reconcile that approach with the tie-ins to faith and Christianity that this article describes?

      June 24, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  41. Marguerite

    It seems to me that many that are posting here seem to think that because one receives a classical education, they are not taught how to use technology. That is simply not the case. I teach at a classical academy and we teach computer science. Not only do the students learn about computer usage and appropriate use of computers, but how to write computer programs.
    The grammar stage should not be confused with only english grammar. The grammar stage simply means learning the language of the subject. In science a student must first understand the vocabulary in order to fully understand the subject. In math one must learn the vocabulary of math to fully understand the subject.
    The logic stage is applying this information and connecting ideas and subjects
    The rhetoric stage is taking all prior knowledge and developing an ability to THOROUGHLY understand a subject, its connections with other subjects and develop truly critical analysis.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Snetterton

      All of which sounds amazing. I really wish I had an education like that. I learned what I do know of such topics on my own, but without a structured curriculum like that, the end result suffers. It looks a lot like what a 'person of letters' would have learned from private tutors in the eighteenth century, or what schoolchildren would learn at the finest private schools of prior eras. These educational methods created generations of great thinkers like Newton and Jefferson. It seems to me that these days, students who excel do so in spite of the educational system rather than because of it.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:54 am |
  42. Brandy

    Western schools were modeled after a factory work day. Children learned to respond to bells, there was a set curriculum which allowed for very little personal creativity and thinking for one's self. Technology in a classroom is only as useful and intelligent as the people pushing the buttons. An iPad or laptop will not make someone smarter or put him or her at an advantage.
    Teaching children how to think critically, appreciate art, explore language, argue well, be curious, can help us break away from an antiquated industrial model and get back to real education.
    By the way all of these create a great foundation for learning the sciences as well.

    June 22, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  43. Acewired

    Seems that most here have had great experiences with the classical education format for their children. They are happy to see their children engaged and excited about learning. Good for them. Both of my children went to public schools. Both have graduated college. Their critical thinking skills came from a combination of what the schools they attended offered and what I offered them as a parent. Your example as a parent is far more impactful on your child then anything they learn in school. Parents do not invest in their children with their time – instead they look to schools to teach the most iimportant concepts in life. If you want to raise a thinking child – start with the first question they ask you with this answer, "what do you think?" This is the beginning of great conversations and debates with your child. Another important aspect of education is the social nature of clubs – both of my children were in Mu Alpha Theta – math club and both were in gifted programs. Not because of anything I did – because of who they were in response to who they saw me to be. I set the example and they followed. That's what children do.

    June 22, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • LearningLuddite

      My experience is similar with my own children. My wife and I were barely average achievers in high school but we have raised honor students. How did we do it? We had the SUPPORT of our local public school. But prior to any formal schooling we read to them everyday growing up. We also talked, talked and talked to our children.
      Notice I said support of the school. We always felt like it was our responsibility first.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • RAE

      I also am a public school product and have led a very successful life, but my parents introduced me to these concepts at home also and taught me to think for myself giving me a desire for learning outside of school. I believe that learning only begins at school and must be continued and reinforced at home, not all families feel the same. But even so, why not also send them to a school that teaches the same concepts and values that you want them to have? If what I do with them at home reinforces what they learn at school already it can only serve to benefit their education.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  44. johnharry

    Sounds like Key school in Annapolis. fantastic school

    June 22, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  45. ironage

    How do you say "do you want fries with that?" ...in Latin?

    June 22, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Henry

      Every kid knows how to use an iPad and the Internet. A dwindling percentage of students know how to read challenging material, analyze it in a thoughtful way, and articulate a compelling point of view. These kids are actually receiving an education — not just making meaningless PowerPoint presentations or screwing around on the web (stuff they do on their own anyway). It would be interesting to track kids who receive a classical education and compare their long-term success vs. kids whose schools focus on technology. My money's on the kids who actually know some stuff.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  46. Barnum Effect

    The fundamental problem of classical education is that it shirks education in the sciences; there's little good in learning how to argue if the arguments in stock are outdated philosophical speculations, feigning profundity by asking unanswerable questions. Favor teaching students how the universe works, rather than how to analyze metaphysical passages in a dead language.

    June 22, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • LearningLuddite

      That's a great point!

      June 22, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Tara

      Have you ever experienced a classical education? My husband teaches in a classical Christian school. Sciences are not neglected.

      June 22, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • noone

        If it's Christian school, you can be sure they're neglecting some science. They probably teach kids all sorts of BS involving magical men who live in the sky sitting in judgment over their lives and holy zombies come back from the dead to somehow absolve the sins of the world. Real fact based hard science there...

        June 22, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • fyre

        I hope classical Christian schools do a better job at teaching the sciences than regular Christian schools. My cousins attended a Christian school and brought their workbooks home to show me. Basic science worthy of elementary school kids was being taught to high school aged students. Advanced knowledge of science is really crucial to understanding what is going on in the world today with the incredible advances in agriculture, healthcare, and engineering, and it's sad that schools are not sufficiently preparing students to take any part in this.

        June 22, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • rebjames

      Three of my children are in a private classical school (with much sacrifice on our part). Our oldest just graduated last month after a K-12 classical education journey. A classical pedagogy incorporates all seven of the liberal arts and sciences. Studying Latin not only increases a student's vocabulary, it improves their English grammar and it is the basis of all the romance languages (not to mention it exercises critical thinking). My daughter whizzed through Spanish in high school (the rhetoric stage) because she had Latin for 6 years. After informal and formal logic she now has the ability to think critically and easily determine good and bad arguments, whether political, religious, or just filtering advertisements-not to be persuaded by empty rhetoric. She knows HOW to think, to ask the right questions, and speak with wisdom and eloquence. By the way, she's quite computer savvy. Her SAT scores were quite high in ALL 3 categories: math, writing, and the critical reading – and the school doesn't teach to the test. I'm not sure how someone who fully understands the whole classical approach could be critical. We need the next American generation to be well-rounded, deeper thinkers, life long learners, equipped to be scientists, mathematicians, writers, artists, political leaders, good parents, doctors, attorneys, computer programmers, business people, and engage the world thoughtfully. This is what a classical education prepares children to do and it is evident.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      "The fundamental problem of classical education is that it shirks education in the sciences..."
      Where did you get such a idea? My classical education, along with Latin and Greek, included physics, chemistry, and four years of math.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Judith

      My children were educated in a classical school. My youngest child has finished 2 years going for a degree in ecological biology. He won the science fair award in his community college for the most scientific project. What he got from a classical education was not years of science subjects but he learned how to think well and express himself in any subject he chose to go into not just the ones he was subjected to in school. 12 years of subjects that you may never use vs. 12 years of true education to make you able to think, express and learn for yourself is a greater skill level for all of life. I have seen it work. The students that have graduated and are now in college have gone into various other subject areas that they were not exposed to in their classical schooling – and they are excelling. The trivium (12 year school subjects) prepares them for the Quadrivium (the college subjects). I heard a radio interview with a man who had started an extremely successful computer company. He was asked how he did it when he went to college before computers. He said I had a classical education so when the opportunity presented itself I was ready.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Bosco

      No, it doesn't.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Guy

      I am 75 years old, a retired electrical engineer. In recent years I have read much history, philosophy and the classics. The surprising thing to me is that the greatest scientists were also philosophers, artists, writers and poets. I spent much of my higher education (but not all) learning to use technology that was obsolete and useless withing 5 years of graduation. Those courses were a waste of time. Draw your own conclusions.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • Sue

      Mmm... no.

      June 23, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Manturo

      If you knew what a classical, humanities education entailed, you would retract your comment. Originally called the Quadrivium, it consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. It now encompasses the natural sciences.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  47. LearningLuddite

    These schools are on the right track, but an iPad needn't be ditched to accomplish their goals.
    In regards to student success on SATs, mountains of research are quite clear. The majority of students scoring near the top come from economically stable homes with involved parents.

    June 22, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  48. AndyM

    When I saw the headline, I assumed that Plato was the product name for a lower-priced notepad/e-reader product.

    "Oh, so, actually, Plato?"

    June 22, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • jrose

      You wouldn't have made this mistake if you'd been given a classical education. 🙂

      June 22, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • oy

        No, more like they knew who Plato was but found it odd that THAT was what the headline meant (it's kind of an illogical comparison in some ways).

        Not to mention that kids normally learn about Plato no matter what school they go to : P.

        June 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  49. Willard Throckmorton

    I am neither Christian nor conservative but finally it is good to see people are getting intelligent about education. If public schools were allowed to drop the idiotic "No Child Left Behind" and adopt this method of education, as a society we would be producing much better educated people.

    June 22, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • johnk

      Willard, as a former teacher I agree with you 100%. Actually the Socratic method is a fine method to teach critical thinking skills. Posing a question and asking the student to make a decision to that question and then backing up their decision with how the student chose & why that decision was made to the question, is how you develop young minds. This article was great to read in seeing Plato come back into the classroom.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Manturo

      Indeed, your point is valuable. Margaret Spellings, a political science major, worked on this legislation. It is basically a neoliberal, economic model of education, not of the enlightenment.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Jay

      Willard, I agree wit your point, but not with your implication that the problems in our public schools began with No Child Left Behind.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  50. Roger

    The success of these schools has nothing to do with the curriculum. It's all about this statement:

    "Students are typically held to strict behavioral standards in terms of conduct and politeness, and given examples of characters from history to copy..."

    That's the only reason why these schools are effective.

    June 22, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  51. Ohio

    Interesting discussion. I guess people are not interested in the Greek and Latin roots of English. Learning Latin or especially Greek is much more demanding than learning a modern romance language.

    I wonder too if some people might do well before they comment to learn the history of compulsory schooling in America. A large part of the problem is the infantalization of people caused by dumbing down the curriculum and herding by age group. This was the ultimate purpose of compulsory schooling, to eliminate youth from the job market which depressed wages.

    Khan's remarks are troll-like in that he can't relate to something so he attacks it as worthless.

    June 22, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  52. tess rufener

    Classic Education maybe helpful, yes, but as only a subject, not entire Curriculum! We can look back at the past, but here is the present to confront! Children exposed entirely to this form of education, may be have a Problem adaprting to the reality of today's life, Society and Environment.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:47 am |
    • Michael

      Did you even read the article? And do you honestly think the graduates of such schools have a hard time adapting to society? They are part of society! Just because they read Nichomachean Ethics and you read US Weekly doesn't mean they can't adapt.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:36 am |
      • SWBeth

        Thank you MIchael. Your comment is spot on. I was wondering the same thing... did the writer even read the article?

        June 22, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Stoney Brook

      School is only several hours a day. Plenty of time for iPADS and smart phones when class lets out.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Joe

      Classical education is a method, not a subject.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • johnk

      You comment is illogical. To make better decisions today is to learn from the past mistakes made. The Socratic method of teaching teaches that skill. That is called EXPERIENCE. The more mistakes ones makes and learns from those mistakes makes one a seasoned professional. Without making mistakes you are only a rookie. Critical thinking skills are not taught today, and that is why most repeat the same mistakes from the past again and again. Plato knew that and posed questions to his students in his teaching of critical thinking

      June 22, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  53. epicurean

    I possess a BA in Philosophy. I was employed in various jobs all my adult life, and was able to retire at the age of 691 months. I worked in child welfare and the justice system primarily. My studies along with other life experiences shaped my vision and personal understanding to serve people. Granted, the world today is technology driven. However, there will always be the need for the human element. The techno folks have their place. We, who are not techno will need to accept them, as long as they can discuss "Prolegamena to Any Future Metaphysics" by Kant.

    June 22, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • sam and tracy

      It is likely that any Prolegamena for Metaphysics suffers will the same problem as mathematics, the issue of undecideabliity (promulgated by Gödel). Unfortunately, it's hard to take seriously anyone that suggests that is possible to critique pure reason as that illustrates the hubris of Hilbert... :^) :^P

      June 22, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • johnk

      Yes. I agree. And congratulations in your early retirement, but I hope you can offer others the skills you still possess. It is called SIGNIFICANCE to your life, for it is how you help others that elevates you to a better life.

      June 22, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  54. WTMCassandra

    Thank you so much for a balanced and fair article, and one that considers various school choices equally, with no bashing of any one choice. I'm a classical homeschooling parent who has been on the WTMBoard for almost 15 years, and it is a vibrant, supportive community I'm proud to be a part of.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  55. clinky

    It was reported last year here at CNN that on average teens text 3400 times a month. That's 7 times an hour for all your time awake, whether you're in school, at work, driving, or not. If kids could funnel that much distraction into concentrating their thoughts instead, I'd say we have a decent shot of holding onto the scaffolding of civilization, after all. Sounds like classical schools are imparting focus instead of frittering attention away, and that can only be a good thing.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  56. Mrpractical

    Ask anyone who went to public schools in the 40's and 50's ( when Latin was part of the curriculum) what they think about Latin. They'll tell you the meaning of the word Latin is "waste of f-ing time". To partially echo another poster, with the current demographic trends in the US, time would be far better spent teaching them Spanish.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Foster149

      We don't know how to develop attention in young people any more. We haven't for a while, and it shows.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:57 am |
      • Bernice

        We do know how to focus their attention. But we have decided that where their attention is focused isn't worthwhile. Perhaps a re-think?

        June 22, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • BigSir

      Fine about Latin, but developing the intellectual ability to discuss ideas common to Western philosophy would be beneficial to everyone. How could it not be?

      June 22, 2013 at 4:19 am |
    • Brandy

      Language crammed down throats is obviously not "taught". Classic language learned, interacted with, played with is taught and becomes most useful when learning modern language like Spanish.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • BobYourUncle

      Some would say Algebra is a waste of time as well. The truth is, if you are in the sciences and want to be able to communicate effectively on a global scale, Latin is the basic building block. I wish I had been "forced" to take Latin in middle school, as I think it would have made many learning experiences later much easier.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  57. Xorax

    Technology make you stupid. Immediate access to all the world's knowledge makes you empty, not full. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Mrpractical

      As you have so artfully just proven.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  58. Mrpractical

    The intricacies of Latin grammar? Are you kidding me? This is like the idea that playing Mozart to babies will make them geniuses. Ask the Socrates how well that whole philosophy thing worked out. How about teaching them engineering, networking and science or better yet, early vocational training?

    June 22, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      Mr. Practical,
      And how would you begin to analyze and dispute Socrates' notions of the good state unless you yourself become a philosopher? In what way does a narrow technological education prepare for this task.
      I guess what I'm really asking is, how does the education you prescribe prepare one to be a good citizen? Or in the brave new technological world i that even a relevant question?

      June 22, 2013 at 12:37 am |
      • Mrpractical

        Thing about about Socrates is he answered questions by asking questions. But at the end of the day, in the real world, you have to shut up and get to work. My alcoholic Uncle was a philosopher, of the kitchen table sort. schools don't raise good citizens, as the Right is so fond of saying. Parents do. Philosophy majors don't have great employment prospects – electricians do. engineers do. I applaud the majority of this curriculum. But having Elementary kids diagram sentences in Latin is more about making the parents feel smarter and superior to those pesky public schools than offering any real benefit. All things in moderation. Now respond without asking a question

        June 22, 2013 at 12:52 am |
      • clinky

        Mp, So you want to teach kids to shut up and obey? Those were your words. Don't we have enough of a corporate-weighted world already? We're not going to balance that if we live in fear and just give in further. Civilization is driven by risk and fundamental questioning. Without that, our society turns stale and dull. Count me out of that.

        June 22, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • jamessavik

      While I'm with you about Latin grammar, there is merit to a classical education.

      Most people are horribly ignorant when it comes to knowing were our civilization came from and its history. Most people don't know the difference between a republic and a democracy and where our own United States falls in that regard.

      There is room for both Plato's Republic and science. In fact, the Greeks were the first scientists.

      June 22, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Politicarum Scientificus

      MrPractical – I am pretty certain that this education style is not a zero-sum game. Because they are educated in "grammar, logic, and rhetoric, it doesn't mean they exclude science/other topics. You know, the one thing that America seems to get right with educating our young is teaching them innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. As I see it, this has a chance to enhance these qualities. Especially because no matter what job you are in, if you have polished linguistic skills (grammar), skills of logic which most people, to me, seem to be lacking, and the ability to cogently argue and persuade (rhetoric), this will translate into work-place success. These are precious qualities. Now, I fervently believe in the power and importance of mathemetics and the sciences. These are a must. I am with you there. But like I said I am sure they DO teach these things, but it is done within a different overaching gameplan. But I am eager to see what education scholars have to say about how well these schools' kids perform down the road – I am cautiously hopeful.

      June 22, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • BigSir

      Mr Practical's recipe for making a stew. Add meat to water and heat. Forget about adding all of the things that make it palatable and something enjoyable to eat. You don't really need them because you won't starve with this recipe and besides, you can save a little money.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • Loki

      Just following the rest of the sheep to the slaughter, then? Philosophy back in the time of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle was hands-on, practicle and investigative. They gave us the foundations of Calculus, Geometry, Architecture, Engineering, Bontany, Medicine, Ethics and on and on the list goes.
      Perhaps, Mr practical, you would have us follow Mr. Marx and Mr Engel into their utopia? Or maybe you subscribe to Stalin, Lenin or Mussolini? Yes, just shut up, ask no questions, do as you are told, follow along. Be a good and proper sheep in the pen.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  59. Jess of The Affair Shop

    Reblogged this on The Affair Shop Blog and commented:
    Hmmm. Note to Mommies...

    June 22, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  60. Rick

    "At St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, the seventh-graders race to see who can write past and future tenses the quickest on individual stylus-like chalk boards."

    I was writing past and future tenses in _second_ grade. Also, I don't understand what that has to do with critical thinking.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Amy

      Hi Rick, I think they are racing to write verbs in Latin. See the sentence before the one about racing.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:01 am |
  61. Khan N SIngh

    The rapid growth job creating economies of the future are being driven by science and technology based entrepreneurship.

    If you are not curious about the natural world/universe you will be left behind and economically ghettoed.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      i received a classical education in high school. Roughly half of my classmates went on to become physicians, with a sprinkling of mathematicians, chemists and physicists.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  62. Khan N SIngh

    This is the most wise thing ever said about kids learning about science..


    June 22, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  63. Freddo

    There isn't a need to choose between Plato and iPads. Plato's writings ... among others ... can be viewed on the iPad.

    iPads are simply devices that can facilitate learning.

    Contrasting the two as a choice to be made isn't an expression of wisdom.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Nodack

      Very wise grasshopper.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  64. Greg

    By the way, going backwards is just that....going backwards.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • cutedog2

      All of my kids attended classical education schools through the 8th grade. Two of the three are now attending a private school that does not teach that style of curriculum and has implemented iPads for learning. I believe the classical curriculum has served them well in their transition. Learning to defend their ideas logically has immeasurable value in education as well as in a community setting. There is value in reading classical literature, the ability to debate, using Latin as the foundation for language as well reading comprehension and linguistics, classifying sentences to understand the parts of speech, and finally, a systematic order of history. Oh, and the iPad thing, they had it down in less than two months after it came home from the store. Do not discount what you don't understand.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh

        What really is needed is competent teachers and parents.

        June 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  65. Greg

    Why are these schools choosing one over the other? It is truly amazing that they do not even realize how the iPad can enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. Perhaps these students should be asked to ponder on that for a few minutes.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Garrett

      Actually, many do both (utilize technology w/ tools like iPads and work through the Trivium).

      June 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  66. CMH

    One needs only to hear the occasional political discussion to plainly see how much this country needs formal logic and rhetoric. My children's schools talk about "critical thinking skills" regularly but what exactly does a 6 yo have to think critically about? Most of this "critical thinking" isn't logic based at all. The children would be much better served to learn to think clearly via Latin. I know that a Classical education isn't for every child, but there should be access to one for every child who wants it. Even children with LD's and other disabilities benefit (maybe more than typically developing children) from learning about truth, beauty, logic and a systematic grammar. If Helen Keller could learn Latin and Greek (and love them btw) the rest of us have no excuse.

    The private classical schools may not take many kids with disabilities, but classical charters enroll just as many, or more than the neighborhood schools. They take everyone, operate on less money and still do well. If there was one near me my kids would be there. Instead I supplement at home.

    A classical education need not be dull. Most young children (especially wiggly boys) love the stories of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Epic battles, adventure, taking over the world..... what's not to love?

    The mental gymnastics required for Latin translation might have even kept you busy Khan.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Khan N SIngh

      The mental gymnastics required to translate Latin are no different than the mental gymnastics to learn spanish, italian ...etc The way the neocortex processes multiple romance languages is the same. Latin is simply a waste of time.

      I would rather teach my child how to learn multiple modern languages since that also teaches you about current cultures and has modern applications.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
      • Lifetraveller

        Clearly it's a waste of time for YOU.

        June 22, 2013 at 4:49 am |
      • FiliusDeiMMXIV

        That is correct, but misleading. Latin is an older language than Italian, Spanish, or French. If you know Latin, the others are easier to pick up. Latin is far more complex due to the need to decline and conjugate, unlike Spanish, for example. So once you know how to learn a challenging language, a simpler lingual derivative seems easy by comparison. I learned and studied Latin for eight years. It took me two months to get fairly fluent in French. If you'd like, you can have my Latin teacher's e-mail. He learned Latin in three years. In the next five years, he became fluent as well in Italian, French, and Spanish.

        June 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  67. Khan N SIngh

    Debate is not an exercise in truth.

    Logic and the rigor of science are the mechanisms for finding truth.


    The way innovation is accelerating people will need to be not only life long learners but be able to take an ADHD-like leap of faith and go in a totally new direction about every 5 years. Most adults brains ossify by the time they are 40. They spend the rest of their lives using political savvy to defend their status rather than really doing anything relevant.

    In this future, ADHD and Dyslexic win since we are outside of the box and get exited about all that is new till the day we die. We continuously like new bright shiny objects!!

    You will service us!

    June 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  68. Theseus

    Philosophy is the greatest academic missing from our curriculum. Students these days are taught WHAT to think, not HOW to think. Philosophy isn't about just "philosophers". Isaac Newton wrote philosophy. Plato and Aristotle opened the door to psychology. Galileo's questioning of his "norms" brought us advanced astronomy. Every government structure in the world began as philosophic ideals. Philosophy is the only education that rationally looks at the human conditions of values, morals and beauty in a way that's not a "commandment". The entire spectrum of the human experiencec exists within the realm of philosophy. EVERYTHING in our innovative mind takes the form of philosophy first, ie -THE IDEA! No science in existence today began as a science. All were first abstract concepts questioning the "necessities" of their era. Hate it if you like, but like it or not we all live in it! If you don't have philosophy all you're left with is materialism.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Khan N SIngh

      Pure/theoretical mathematics is more philosophy and logic than it is numbers.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
      • Lifetraveller

        Pure Mathematics is a language – NOT a philosophy. Your limitations are starting to show...and a man has got to know his limitations.

        June 22, 2013 at 4:54 am |
  69. Khan N SIngh

    Going backwards is always the first step in innovation.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • MBS

      No. Innovation arises from a need to solve a problem that many may have never realized we had.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
  70. Jim Welters

    The article is basically a free uncritical advertisement for these schools. If public schools had highly motivated parents willing to pay extra for education they would be doing as well. Comparing average test scores is an apples to oranges comparison, one which I would assume classical education would recognize is invalid.. Much less diverse student bodies, no special education students and an ability to reject kids who don't make the grade is a luxury public schools don't have. Add in the conservative Christian element and this an option for the few, not the many.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Thomas Fredson

      1. Average $ spent per student is much higher in the public schools. These private schools don't succeed just because parents are willing to "pay extra for education."
      2. Did you not look at the pictures before you made your comment about "much less diverse student bodies?"
      3. I agree that comparing test scores is imperfect, and the fact that private schools don't have to admit everybody does make a difference here. But I don't see why that entirely detracts from the good things these private schools are doing, often for a lot less money per student than the public schools.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Brandy

      I highly disagree. While there is no classical education schools near me, my children are receiving one at home. I certainly do not lead an affluent life, I am a single mom. Special needs kids in the class? There is 4, all 4 of my kids have special needs. And yet all 4 are succeeding. They may move through the trivium more slowly than if they were neurotypical or in a brick and mortar school, but they still following the trivium. While not all kids will respond positively to the classical model of education, it most certainly is not only for a few.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • Fleur

        I realize that there are arguments for and against homeschooling. But what is clear is that in the classes you hold at home the ratio is one adult to four children; whereas in public schools the ratio may be approximately one adult to 30/35 children. Now that will have a huge impact on your children's education.

        June 22, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Jen Driscoll

      Actually, Jim, the members of The Well Trained Mind forum cited here are primarily homeschoolers, a large portion of which these days are emphatically not conservative Christian (many homeschool from a primarily secular point of view, in fact). There is no single type of homeschoolers, nor any single, majority type of Classical schooler (except, possibly I would venture that classical homeschoolers outnumber private and charter classical students). It may also surprise you to learn that many classical homeschoolers, who also take and do similarly well on those standardized tests, include special needs students. Because the classical approach is pedagogically sound, and homeschooling affords special needs students the ability to fine-tune their abilities to meet and overcome their unique challenges to the greatest possible extent, special needs students do very well with the classical approach.

      I was once a public school parent who wished to be highly involved with volunteering at my kids' school, but I was told repeatedly not to bother, because parents won't make a difference. I offered to spearhead parental recruitment and to supervise parent volunteers, to ensure they were usefully engaged, and I was told not to bother. Now the school no longer has to bother with my kids, and I laugh when I read complaints in the local papers from administrators about uninvolved parents.

      My kids' test scores have risen tremendously through classical homeschooling, and yes, that includes a special needs kid. No, Mr. Welters, there is no requirement that one be a conservative Christian to provide one's child with a solid classical education. One does not need to be wealthy; it probably costs less than the modern trendy stuff they do now with all the smart boards and laptops for every kid so that their homework can smile at them or whatever it does. One just needs to work hard enough at it to do it correctly.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • Jen Driscoll

        Argh. No single type of homeschooler, not homeschoolers. I really need to shut down autocorrect!

        June 21, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • crjcurrie

      That's an inaccurate caricature of classical education. St. Jerome Academy - the school depicted in the article's photos - is as diverse as the American population, with over half of its student body being African American and Hispanic. The community is a mix of middle-class and working class families. These are not children of the elite - but they are getting an education that will make them tomorrow's elites. My daughter graduated from SJA last year after seeing her test scores rise from the 80s to the 99th percentile; she and a classmate now attend one of the nation's 50 best Catholic high schools, where my daughter made the honor roll all four quarters and her friend won both the Math medal and the English medal for the freshman class. Classical education is proving that all children can learn to read well, think well, write well and speak well.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • SWBeth

      You may wish to reread the article. It was quite clear that this type of education is cutting across social economic, political and religious (or non religious) populations.

      June 22, 2013 at 7:52 am |
  71. Shelia

    In other words finally going back to what education once was suppose to be and not indoctrination,,

    June 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Khan N SIngh

      The way education once was is a pipe dream.

      I have ADHD and I am a 49 year old adult. The old way was a complete turnoff for me.

      I got by because I was the smartest kid in the room but I got whacked because I did not do ANY homework. But my test scores proved that homework was irrelevant for me.

      I needed a class and structure that met my wiring.

      The cool thing about technology today is that we are on the cusp, thanks to cloud based services and the iPad of creating truly customized learning experiences based on a individual students wiring.

      In the end it is about maximizing output and growth no matter what wiring you have. Classical education fails miserably at this.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • Greg

        Sounds like you belonged in a gifted program. 🙂

        June 21, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh

        Not for everything. Writing was difficult for me because of my ADHD. A black page is still overwhelming unless I "prime the pump" with free association.

        Back in High School I got a D in english simply because I achieved the goal in a different way. I was one of the few students to have an Apple II. I found my own path to achieving the goal and got whacked because I did not follow the teachers recipe. However, his recipe was useless for me especially when I could achieve the goal much faster with this new amazing tool called a computer.

        Nothing worse than to get a C or D with the comments "good paper but where are the steps/drafts..."

        When I did reports for other classes I got B's and A's on those.

        June 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • crjcurrie

        Unless you're more than 100 years old, the 'old way' for you was a variant of the modern education that has failed our society so miserably. My middle child has ADHD and ASD, and his clinicians said he'd need to go to a special school because of his developmental disorders. We schooled him at home until 4th grade and then enrolled him at St. Jerome Academy, where he integrated into a mainstream classical classroom and has done well both socially and academically for the past three years.

        June 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  72. marty in MA

    It's not about teaching, it's about LEARNING.
    There are many different ways to educate a child and most work. The trick is matching the best method with the specific kid. Unfortunately, it's tough to do in a room of thirty kids with limited budgets.
    Education must be relaveant to the student or their effort will be lacking.

    I would like to run a school with an entirely new, practical curriculm.


    June 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Janiffa Rexha

      Ahh!...EDUCATION–rediscovered!....truth be told...we are in a true renaissance!....let's make it international!...

      June 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh

        Yes turning back the clock makes things better.

        Next step... AN ABACUS!!!!!!

        June 21, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Samantha

      Tough to do in a room with 30 kids and limited budgets? These very successful classical schools are doing it every day. It isn't more expensive to teach a classical curriculum. And it is definitely more successful than many other methods.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh

        I want my son to be the next Steve Jobs not a Thomas Jefferson retread!

        June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
      • BigSir

        I don't have anything against Steve Jobs but I would rather have a kid trained in the arts and humanities than a Steve Jobs. I would rather have a seat on a plane next to a history professor than next to any of the rich IT guys because conversing with an interesting person is of value and seldom happens.

        June 22, 2013 at 4:35 am |
    • Greg

      Amen to that. I am a SPED teacher and they are expected to do everything on grade level and pass the state exams.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  73. howardhochhalter

    My husband and I quickly ruled out public education while researching options for my oldest daughter's schooling. Homeschooling was not something I originally envisioned myself doing; but after reading into different learning approaches and teaching philosophies we realized that the classical method resonated for our family. We're thankful to be living in an age where resources are limitless and practically instantaneous. We believe we can closely adhere to the trivium by utilizing resources in our community and online virtually. Contrary to what some may believe about the classical method, it doesn't equate to living in the past. I'll be classically educating my daughters and in doing so giving them the power of critical, independent thinking while arming them with a deep knowledge and appreciation for world history, culture, mathematics, science, and the arts.
    I don't believe a classical education is for everyone but for us it's a perfect fit. Kristen @ TeachingStars.com

    June 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • cjacja

      The problem with home teaching especially at the high school level is that can a parent really know enough to teach Chemistry, English lit., and Calculus. Most parents simply do not know the subjects well enough. I know science and math well enough, but I'm not a writer and the only PE I can teach is hiking in the woods. And then there is the time element. Teaching is a 40 hours a week job. Few parents can spare that much time so they don't, they just toss the books at the kid and the kid becomes at best "self educated". Many fall well behind the others but some do much better.

      The best predictor of a students success in school is the level of the parent's education and the level of the parent's involvement. If you do happen to have a parent with a four year degree who can be invollved 40 hours a week then 'd expect a very good result. But few kids have parents like that.

      June 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  74. skytag

    "In the “logic” stage – grades five through eight – children evaluate, analyze, discern and question. They study algebra and how to propose and defend a thesis. They engage in focused discussion, begin to think through arguments and understand cause and effect."

    At 13 they could smoke most people who comment online in a debate.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Dan

      I totally agree with you, we can include most of the politicians too.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  75. B

    Yes. The problem with education today is that it's not academic enough (sarcasm). This educational model will appeal to those old-timers who can't accept that times have changed. Watch it yield a generation of mini philosophers who understand life only in the abstract. Meanwhile kids elsewhere will learn to think critically in the context of real-world problem/solution scenarios (which often involve technology). These kids, of course, will come from China.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • skytag

      I disagree. If done well it will produce people who can think, analyze, and form their own opinions instead of just regurgitating facts, incapable of following an argument that's too long to tweet because of short attention spans. They won't respond to comments in online discussions with TL;DR.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • Scott


        June 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh


        June 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • BShort

      Yes, because an education that doesn't teach concepts, but instead teaches to a test and teaches to the average is the answer? I work with college students and trust me, the ones with critical thinking skill is in the minority.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • K

      Times certainly have changed. In just the last 20 years I've seen my university undergraduate students get worse and worse, despite their high school GPA's skyrocketing and ever increasing SAT's. These kids can't argue their way out of a paper bag. I'm embarrassed for them because they don't know to be embarrassed for themselves. There's no systematic thinking, no logic, no grammatical skills, etc.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
      • jeth3rton

        Critical thinking is in crisis. Sight words and feel-good fuzzies have replaced real learning. Kudos to everyone who is working to teach kids to THINK on their own. We have a society of individuals who want things instantly done for them. It's not a generational issue or an income issue. People don't want to think, they want an instant solution to every problem.

        June 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
      • Brandy

        Agreed, I've worked in the college and University classroom for 13 years and I've watched as tech increases the student's engagement in classroom discussion and material decreases. They ask questions like, how many pages do you want in the report, how any chapters do we have to read, and what is going to be on the test? I'm an interpreter and those questions are boring. And there is never an argument or disagreement with the professor. It's disturbing to me.

        June 22, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • cjacja

        one word "Standardized Test". If you, not your students but YOU were evaluated based on how well your students do in fill in the bubble type tests what would you teach your students? Obviously if you did not spend most of your time teaching test-taking skills they would fire you and find some one who would do it. Your students would become zombies who were good at filling in bubbles with a #2 pencil.

        They spend hundreds of yours every year teaching tests. Tell your elected leaders to take this approach down a few levels. It is good to collect data but not good to grade schools and teachers on it because then they do exactly what they are told to do, raise the test scores, and they do. In fact as you pointed out they are quite good at raising SAT and other scores. But with a fixed number of hours, teaching one thing means you skip teaching other things, "thinking" is not tested so out it goes.

        June 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Shelia

      Centuries children have been taught not to think just parrot.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • cjacja

        Yes and no. For Centuries elementary schools where that way but at the higher levels, Read what Plato taught and look at Oxford. At the higher end it has always been done mostly right.

        Part of the problem is a demographic shift. We see the disappearance of the middle class two parent family. A higher percentage of kids today grow up in poverty. We call it "The raise of the minimum wage jobs."

        June 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Samantha

      You want to see critical thinking? Watch a group of students immersed in the intricacies of Latin Grammar–translating the words, choosing the proper verb tenses, noun and adjective cases, getting each ending correct, and diagramming said sentence in English and Latin both. In basing our curriculum on the study of Latin and the classics, I have watched my children think more critically than ever, appreciate beauty, analyze historical events, recognize their effects on modern society, and on and on. Understanding life only in the abstract, absolutely not! We can relate to any number of real situations and events happening today, but with a historical perspective that informs the way we see things. It is truly rich and broad, unlike the little cardboard morsels that one can gain from the average social studies textbook in the average public school out there.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • Khan N SIngh

        What an absolute waste of time!

        June 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
      • Lifetraveller

        Ok Mr. Khan, I get it now. You're really Joe the plumber, aren't you?

        June 22, 2013 at 5:00 am |
      • cjacja

        Yes we do all see the benefits of learning a second language. But everything you say applies to those learning Spanish or Chinese. Why not learn something useful? A second language should be REQUIRED in schools. Well it almost is because the universities require it for admission

        June 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Norm

        Not true at all. Latin, though a "dead" language, serves as the basis for all Romance languages (Note that this refer to their Roman heritage, not their romantic) and learning Latin serves as a base for all of them. Knowing Latin allows someone to quickly learn Spanish, French, Italian, Portugeuse; sure different vocabulary and slightly different grammer, but the core is there. Chinese, on the other hand, shares none of those elements; it is not a root language for other Asian languages and is so diametrically opposed to Latin languages, learning it as a base would be pointless.

        June 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • cjacja

      You don't have to choose. You can teach Platio and clasical music on the iPad. It is just and electronic sheet of paper. The kids don't even se a iPad as "technology" they see right through it to the content it holds.

      I imagine a similar argument when books were invented and the old timers wanted those "new things" kept out of schools in favor of scrolls thinking that kids will just waste time "flipping pages".

      What matters is what is written on the page the kids reads not if the page is made of glass or paper. But Glass speeds up the process. Touch screen tests can be graded faster. yu cn have 3D models in Chemistry classes and they can hear the voices of historic figures e-books really ARE better then paper books

      And ebooks can be lower cost too.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm |