In 1947, British author, Dorothy Sayers presented an essay at Oxford University about education. That essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, became the foundation for the restoration of classical education in the United States. The ancient goal of education was for children to think and learn for themselves by teaching them the tools of learning. Modern education fails to teach students how to use these tools. The task-by-task approach of modern education requires dependence upon teachers, but the basic skills of ancient learning will produce independent learners. Modern education expects students to master a large amount of subject matter before they have mastered the tools of learning; yet, if we give students the tools or skills of learning, they will continue to learn for the remainder of their lives.
The ancients classified education into three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These simply give names to what most people already identify in the human learning development of God’s design. Biblically, we see these stages as knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. This model, known as the Trivium, not only lines up with the development of children, but with each subject as well.
Parents desire a classical Christian education for several reasons. An academically sound education gives students the tools to excel for the glory of God. A child who can teach himself is better prepared to effectively serve God in the world. As parents, we have the responsibility of training our children in the way they should go. Classical education is an approach that allows parents to train children to receive knowledge, analyze it according to God’s Word, and to competently communicate God’s truth.
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)