Classical education focuses on three stages of the learning experience; grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In the elementary stages, the student masters the arts of learning, which enable one to move from subject to subject, text to text, or idea to idea. This helps your student to know how to handle the particular subject, text, or idea.
Classical education provides students with a rich knowledge base to foster additional learning. Exposure to rich literature, history, science, and arts will provide the building blocks for future learning.
To be educated in any discipline, you must:
1. Know its basic facts (grammar)
2. Be able to reason clearly about it (logic)
3. Communicate its ideas and apply them effectively (rhetoric)
Along with these concepts, Latin instruction provides the foundational knowledge of word structure and grammar that supports literacy acquisition.
Rebekah Hagstrom describes a classical education and explores its benefits in producing citizens who know history, understand logic, are well rounded, and can speak and debate respectfully.
Grammar refers to the basic facts students must know to progress in a subject. The grammar stage introduces the brain to learning through observation and memorization. In practice, this looks like:
- Mastering the rules of phonics and spelling
- Memorizing basic math facts
- Hearing foundational stories from literature and history
- Developing an understanding of life science, physical science, and Earth and space science.
- Learning how to interact and participate in a learning environment (rules, societal expectations, etc.)
Logic encourages students to think more independently, analyze information critically, and make sense of abstract concepts. Logic advances learning through argument and reason. Instead of taking in information at face value, students in this stage are more likely to ask, "Why?" This stage introduces students to the following concepts:
- Logical writing based on a thesis statement
- Literature analysis
- The scientific method
- More abstract mathematics, like algebra and geometry
In the logic stage, students learn to question, test, and make sense of the knowledge they acquired.
Rhetoric is the stage where students can apply what they have learned, instruct and persuade others, and effectively transmit ideas. Rhetoric reinforces learning through communication and application. In the rhetoric stages, students exercise their ability to:
- Write in a persuasive way
- Find creative ways to express what they know
- Apply knowledge to real-world situations
- Formulate original arguments that they can also defend
The Rhetoric stage empowers students to use what they have learned to make a difference—for themselves and other people.