Classical Christian Education

  • Classical Christian Education

    Posted by Dr. Ralph Spraker on March 4, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    Classical Christian Education (CCE) is a traditional approach to education developed within faith-based communities as early as the Patristic Fathers. It integrates seven liberal arts into a “Love of Wisdom” that is grounded in Scripture and confessional theology. CCE cultivates and nourishes human souls to pursue a life-long alignment of their mind and their body’s affections to the true, the good, and the beautiful. Thus, CCE emphasizes and develops through contemplative and collaborative a study methodology that uses the Scriptures and confessional theology (i.e., the creeds) to guide through the seven liberal arts (i.e., grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, astronomy, music, and arithmetic) and the ideas contained in the “Great Books.”

    CCE uses Socratic mentoring, shepherding, and discipling in leisurely exploration of human thought, tradition, culture, and wisdom that allows for reflection and enculturation within a “Paideia” community usually in some ecclesiastical setting (e.g., a monastery, cathedral, or home school). Traditional and historical virtues are purposely used to encourage a servant-hearted service to one’s neighbors and God. CCE assumes each embodied soul understands that God is both our Creator and Our Sustainer. Therefore, it values the physical and the intellectual as vehicles for God’s revelation of Himself. The Logos’s incarnation and the ultimate resurrection of our body are not only proclaimed but properly desired in our creeds and confessions. This stands in stark contrast to Gnostic and Manichean tendencies which separate physical and spiritual into rival forces.

    Therefore, CCE is focused as the Apostle Paul wrote on the “Discipline (“paideia”) and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 4). Thus, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training (“paideia”) in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16). Both Saint Augustine and Saint Athanasius applied this integration of scripture for learning and catechesis of new converts and children.

    CCE uses three Latin phrases as a model for the Essential Pedagogical Principles as elementary and essential educational practices (i.e., praxis). Firstly, Festina Lente or to “Make haste slowly” emphasizes the mastery of learning and implies a Scholé (i.e., “leisurely”) pace of learning. Secondly, Multum Non Multa or “Much not many” suggests that mastery of fewer subjects is better than a “frenzied,” cursory, perusal of too many subjects (C.S. Lewis). Thirdly, Repetitio Mater Memoriae or “Repetition is the mother of memory” implies a lively, meaningful review of subject matter to promote permanent learning.

    All three principles lend themselves to the use of Songs, Jingles, Chants to reinforce and promote a sense of Wonder and Curiosity about learning and to impart a love for truth, goodness, and beauty. Additionally, CCE uses the Educational Virtues (i.e., love, humility, diligence, constancy, courage, and temperance) with an Embodied Education focus to unite the human soul and body again contra to Gnostic and Manichean principles.

    Finally, Docendo Discimus or “By teaching we learn” demonstrates the principle as Christ taught us that, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10: 24). As classical educators, we ought to have humility to pursue for ourselves a life-long alignment of our mind and our body’s affections to the true, the good, and the beautiful which is ultimately Christ Himself!

    In the Lamb,

    ​Ralph “Rafe” E. Spraker, Jr.

    PhD, MSSE, IMA, MA, BA

    Quia Lex per Mosen data est Gratia et Veritas per Iesum Christum facta est

    Dr. Ralph Spraker replied 2 years, 3 months ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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