Association of Classical Christian School: 

What is Classical Christian Education? 


Prepare, deepen, transform 

Classical Christian education is an educational category that establishes a biblical worldview (called Paideia) by incorporating ancient methods of student development. It includes the cultivation of the 7 Christian Virtues, training student reasoning through the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric), and interacting with the historical Great Books. 

Tens of thousands of parents are embracing classical Christian K-12 schools because they can see the difference. Parents who want their children to flourish in life, not just get by. And they want this for their children’s whole life, not just for college. This is a gift you can give your child in the Christian paideia. 

Classical Christian schools were uniquely designed to help parents obey Paul’s instruction in Ephesians, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the paideia of the Lord.” In the first century to the 19th, classical Christian education was the way Christian parents cultivated a Christian Paideia in their children. 

Paideia is powerful because it influences who we are in a deep way that is almost imperceptible to us– it’s woven into us from childhood. If you spend a day in a conventional high school talking to students, and then spend a day with classical Christian high-schoolers, we think you’ll see the difference. 

If you listen to educators today, you’ll typically hear one common goal: “College and Career Readiness.” But what if students were asked to rise to a greater purpose? Parents at classical Christian schools are realizing that their kids can rise to something greater, something deeper, if we dare to imagine it. We disciple students to love great art, great books, and to appreciate the Greatness of God. And when they come near graduation after a decade or more in classical Christian schools, people notice something. No form of education can compare to the success seen within classical Christian schools. 

Education with a bigger purpose 

With a classical Christian school, our goals are much bigger. 

This “pearl of great price” in education is greatly valued for those who understand its potential, but often goes unrecognized by those who do not. 

We train students to lead with eloquence. Our unique method, based in the tradition of the Trivium, works with the age of the child through grammar (k-5), logic (grades 6-8), and rhetoric (grades 9-12) to develop clear thinking and a masterful command of spoken and written language. 

We inspire depth and Wisdom. Students engage great books containing rich stories that shape both the soul and literary understanding. A rich and nuanced command of language plays an unsung role in understanding Gods word, and in understanding our fellow man. And, a thorough immersion in the study of history using original sources helps students “live in many times and therefore in some degree [be] immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of [their] own age.” (C.S. Lewis) 

We cultivate rightly ordered affections (the ancient concept of virtue). We realize this sounds strange, or foreign. But since the time of the early church, Christians have been about training students to love the true, the good, and the beautiful. And, to “rightly order” those loves so that we love first our God, and then our neighbor. This means that we order our affections as God would. 

We imprint a biblical framework to understand everything. This is more than adding a bible verse to the curriculum. When every facet of history, science, math, philosophy, art, and other subjects is integrated around the truth of the Christian worldview, students gain a unique and important perspective. 

“Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.”

It’s time to rethink education. Classical Christian education breaks away to re-establish Christianity as a leading voice in our culture. And, classical Christian education also has proven to be the most effective preparation for college. As you’ll see, the difference can be measured many ways. 

Highlights of the classical Christian model 

Classical Christian education uses methods and content that develop thinking, articulate, well-rounded graduates.

Age-specific k-12 Learning: 

Classical Christian schools use the children’s God-given strengths at each stage of growth to help them learn; young children enjoy memorizing, singing, and rhymes, so a solid foundation is laid in each subject of study at this age; junior high students are inquisitive, so we develop their ability to reason and discern truth; high school students want to talk, so we teach them how to present their ideas persuasively. The result is a graduate who knows what they believe and why and can positively impact the community around them. 

Christ-centered Curriculum: 

Classical Christian schools teach all subjects based on the principle that God is the Creator of all that exists, and therefore all knowledge is interrelated and points back to Him. Biblical standards of conduct are applied in all arenas of school life, acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. The schools acknowledge that God has given parents the responsibility for the education of their children and that the schools instruct those students under the parents’  delegated authority. Most graduates remain faithful to Christ even through college and have a heart to serve others. 

Time-tested Method and Content: 

Classical Christian schools develop skills to equip students to be lifetime learners by teaching students that every subject is comprised of certain defining facts with an orderly organization of the information, and a concise and persuasive way in which to present the acquired material. This method of instruction has been in use for hundreds of years and is the means which produced most of history's great thinkers; it is the new "old-way" of educating students with a long history of success. Graduates are familiar with reading, writing, Latin, logic, math, science, rhetoric, and the fine arts resulting in gracious, knowledgeable, and thoughtful men and women. 

Academically Rigorous: 

Students are capable of achieving much more than is commonly thought, and therefore classical Christian schools have high expectations for student learning. Students learn to love the subjects that their teachers love and cheerfully follow the godly example of their instructors. Students with a classical Christian education experience the personal satisfaction that is inherent in mastering a difficult task. 

Nurturing Community: 

A classical Christian school is a community of parents and teachers who share a commitment for teaching children to love learning and grow in godliness. Smaller class sizes ensure that teachers know their students and are better able to serve them individually. Students know they are loved and not just another face in the crowd while openly manifesting deep appreciation and respect for their parents and teachers. 

Recover lost tools, and a lost civility 

By teaching them to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects… We have lost the tools of learning…”—Dorothy Sayers 

Classical Christian education takes advantage of natural inclinations of children at different stages of their development to maximize learning. 

When young children find it easy and fun to memorize and enjoy choral recitations and chants, they are given opportunities to memorize all types of facts in math, geography, English, bible and Latin. These facts are the “grammar” or building blocks inherent in every subject. 

Once they become teenagers, students like to contradict their elders, they sometimes are guilty of back talk, they enjoy pointing out other’s mistakes, and they like to propose and discuss 

difficult problems that have no easy solution. These students are ripe for instruction and training in formal logic. 

If all goes well, in their later high school years students begin to show signs of creativity. The students, anxious to achieve independence and longing to express themselves, are taught to communicate eloquently and persuasively through instruction in rhetoric. 

It was Dorothy Sayers who proposed this marriage of the three stages of the Trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) to the three stages of children development (roughly elementary, junior high, and high school). Through careful and thoughtful planning with a specific focus on curriculum and instruction, classical educators “cut with the grain” and help students develop skills that, once mastered, equip the children to learn for themselves. 

In short, education is primarily about what we are trained to love, not just what we are taught to know. 

  • The Trivium provides both language, logic, and leadership mastery in three parts or phases– grammar (typically emphasized in k-6), Logic (typically in 7-9) and Rhetoric (typically in 10-12).

  • We build around a humanities core, based in great books, theology, philosophy, and history.

  • Socratic discussion, common placing (journaling great ideas & support), and a variety of engaging methods based in classical tradition create a very different classroom experience.

  • Structure and beauty characterize the environment with great art, uniforms, and organized, structured learning.

  • The quadrivium provides a philosophical approach to learning about our world including number, geometry (shape), astronomy (motion), and music (ratio’s and proportions).

  • Theology is the queen of the sciences, with all subjects understood through the revealed word of God and natural/human history and philosophy.

  • Great art is emphasized in the fine and performing arts.

  • Christian community is an extends beyond the classroom with intentional focus on the cultivation of virtue, as a practice.

  • The traditions of the church provide and inform the pursuit of the 7 Christian virtues, etc.

From the Trivium and Quadrivium, to Latin and Greek, to the cardinal virtues, to the great books; classical Christian methods sound foreign. But they have served the church for centuries. And, they are excelling today in ACCS member schools.