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What Do We Mean by Classical Education

An article by Ruth Beechick in Homeschooling Today

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6 Responses to “What Do We Mean by Classical Education”


  1. I have read this article numerous times, and I still am frustrated by it. Why does Dr. Beechick ignore the Hebrew roots of true classical education, and instead credit the Greeks and Romans with it? Instead of pointing back to the Bible, as she usually does, why does she stop at the pagans? And why does she then conclude that as long as we read our Bibles, it does not matter what books we use to train our children? The presuppositions of this article seem in contrast with her other writings, and that confuses me.


  2. Lea Ann,

    I think the point is a language issue. In the English dictionary, the first meaning of classical mean relate to Ancient Greek and Roman (In Spanish, the same); If we want to call classic the biblical model, we need to make a change in the dictionary, in the meaning of the world. In Spanish, we have an Academy of Language that regulates the meaning of worlds, changes can be made, but it is difficult (there is pressure to change the meaning of the word “matrimonio” (marriage, to include same sex union, but the academy refused. In Spanish, marriage means woman and man union only).

    To call classic the ancient Biblical model, we, all people that talk the language, must agree. The meanings of words are a convention.

    I think Mrs. Beechick is not against ancient biblical education, She is pointing that classical is what the English language call classical, not what individuals want to call to call classic. How many authors are of the opinion that the ancient Hebrew education is classic?

    I think the combination “Christian Classic” is an answer to this linguistic issue. Rather than to baptize the classical education as biblical, we define a new category: Christian classic.


  3. the end if the article says: “The Bible is the most classic of all classical books, containing the greatest of all great ideas throughout civilizations. Keep it as the core of your home education.”

    That is what really matters.


  4. This discussion highlights my frustration with Dr. Beechick’s article.

    As to the definition of the word “classic” … Webster’s 1812 dictionary gives as the first two definitions: 1. Relating to ancient Greek and Roman authors of the first rank or estimation, which, in modern times, have been and still are studied as the best models of fine writing. Thus, Aristotle, Plato, Demosthenes, Thucydides, &c., among the Greeks, and Cicero, Virgil, Livy, Sallust, Cesar, and Tacitus, among the Latins, are classical authors. Hence,

    2. Pertaining to writers of the first rank among the moderns; being of the first order; constituting the best model or authority as an author; as, Addison and Johnson are English classical writers. Hence classical denotes pure, chaste, correct, refined; as a classical taste; a classical style.

    Classical music, classical architecture, and hense, “classical education” would pertain to the second definition. They pertain to the “best model or authority.” What is, then, the best model or authority? The ancient Greeks and Romans? Secular Humanists, like Sayers, Bauer, et al, would say yes. But God’s children must say a resounding no.

    Beechick confuses the article by arguing both sides of the issue, first claiming we cannot hold to a classical model, one that appeals to the best possible authority, and then at the end claiming that same authority.

    You are right, Perla, not many authors are clearly stating this, that we must pursue a biblical classical model. That is why this article, and it’s constant proliferation, is a frustration to me. Why muddy the waters? But at least it gets people talking.

    We cannot baptize the ancient Greek and Roman model. The pagans have no part with the Christians, for for what fellowship hath light with darkness, what communion hath Christ with Belial? Our methods are completely different, our goals are completely different, our outcome must be completely different.

    Thanks for bringing up this interesting discussion. I just finished reading Beechick’s book “Biblical Home Education.” I bought it to try to understand her point of view better. She has a lot of interesting ideas.

    And your blog ALWAYS does. : )


  5. I think, this lady Beechick just want to point that many people use the term Classical Education, but we are doing whatever we want down the umbrella of that “nice” name. Is classic education to use Saxon Math? Is classic education to use text books with or without workbooks to learn Latin and/or Greek? I do not think so, but since it is not bad = it is not against the Bible=the Bible is a classic book, so they are part of our “classical education”, …here we go again, baptizing things as classic because they fulfill our classic objectives, in our particular sense of the word classic.

    I am not sure if we need to call classic the Ancient Hebrew Model of Education, Why if we simple call it Biblical Education? Why we need the word classic in it? Perhaps we are the ones muddy the waters.

    I like the world classic in the way it is used in Teaching The Trivium, but I cannot impose that criteria to the rest of the authors, actually, I think that I am in the minority. If we make a survey, I am pretty sure that only the people that follow and agree with Teaching The Trivium knows the idea that the Biblical Hebrew Model is the Original Classical Model of Education.

    No all Christians think the same about education, for some the Bible should be the only book to read (even the cooking recipes must come from there exclusively). Other Christians think that The Greeks did not invented Logic, Rhetoric, etc in the same way that Columbus did not invented America, they just discover this things that belongs to God and wrote them down, so it is ok use Aristotle’s logic and Greek books… and there are other Christians as Peter Enns and Co.

    In TTT Pag 92, Mr Bluedorn clarify “Back in 1989, we suggested that the term Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom would serve better o describe the three levels of development. Well, that never caught on either. So, as to avoid confusion with others who have written on these subjects we will try to work both terminologies”.

    We are the ones that need to adapt to other’s people terminology, no Mrs Beechick (looks like she holds the mayority and older definition of classical education). Personally, I do not see that our particular view of classical education will caught on sometimes in the future.

    ps: I considered myself classic, but some people tell me that I am not even conservative enough ;)


  6. I will ask Laurie Bluedorn, if there more author in history that believed the Classical Education has its roots in Anciente Hebrew Education.

    I do not believed everything in Wikipedia, but at least the next link give us some perspective of what the concept means in our language.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_education_movement

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