What is Classical Education?
A Well-Rounded Course of Study
In classical schools, students receive a well-rounded education in the liberal arts and sciences. All students study literature and mathematics, history and the sciences, the fine arts, Latin, and physical education because the K-12 years are the years in which we are still coming to know ourselves and the world around us. The successful development of literacy and numeracy and a solid foundation in the core subjects is necessary before advanced or specialized training and study.
Rooted in Human Nature
But the study of the liberal arts does more than prepare the way for specialized training. A classical education teaches us to seek knowledge of the nature of things, especially the nature of man and of the universe as a whole. Human beings are that part of the universe who seek to know where we stand within it, and who wonder about its ultimate origins and character. We are also driven by a desire to know ourselves—to understand our nature and purpose in life.
The Humanities and the Sciences
The surest guides for this quest are the great works of literature, philosophy, politics, and art that mankind has produced, which teach us about human nature and the human good, along with the serious study of mathematics and the sciences, which teach us about the natural order. Together with the study of history, which teaches us to know ourselves by understanding our place in the unfolding of the human story, the serious pursuit of knowledge across all subjects equips us for truly human lives.
Liberal education liberates us in the true sense. It frees us from ignorance and confusion, from prejudice and delusion, and from the wild passions and fanciful hopes that can degrade and destroy us. It liberates human beings by making us rational, allowing us to see the world clearly and honestly. In revealing our nature, it necessarily reveals what we need by nature—what is right and good for us.
For these reasons, liberal education provides, in part, moral education. Rather than do violence to human nature in a vain attempt to remake it, liberal education cultivates human nature so it can grow properly and flourish. It takes up the essential task of character formation. Liberal education guides us into freedom, by making us self-reliant and responsible, capable of governing ourselves and taking part in the self-government of our communities. Liberal education makes us fit to be true citizens.
The liberal arts in particular and liberal education in general are the surest, most time-tested way to direct students toward a life that is truly free.