The following are a few common questions that parents have asked over the years and the responses from St. Paul's.
Yes it is true, the classical education model is old, in fact it is thousands of years old. But old does not necessarily mean outdated. In the case of classical education, it means time-tested teaching and learning methods that help to create well-rounded, intelligent, wise and virtuous young men and women. All of our founding fathers, for example received classical educations. Many great scientists and literary geniuses throughout history have received classical educations. The origins of classical education goes all the way back to the Greeks. When the Greeks started to introduce democracy they realized that the only way it would work was to educate people to be wise, virtuous and independent thinkers. Hence a liberal education in Greek times had nothing to do with modern day progressivism, but instead had everything to do with liberty and freedom. Instead of citizens being trained to perform a task or trade, democracy required wise and thoughtful men to make important decisions, thus the liberal, classical education was born. It is interesting how the public education system of today was mainly instituted to indoctrinate and train individuals vocationally, just as those Greeks were trained to do long ago, before Greece ushered in their age of democracy.
Public or "progressive" schools do not hold the past sacred, and in fact practice an ideology that is the total opposite. In public schools new is always better. This is a careless teaching and learning approach since most of what is new today is filled with dangerous and corrupt ideologies that can severely damage the minds of young children.
Classical education can mean many things, and it really depends on the school and what they teach. At St. Paul's we have a strong Classical Christian foundation. We believe that not only should students hear the word of God everyday but also understand that God is a part of every subject they learn, not just religion. Students also learn that truth is not subjective, (something they dangerously teach at public schools) but objective, and based in the word of God. Students are therefore taught to strive for God's truth, not their own.
What else encompasses St. Paul's Classical Christian Education?
Many parents believe that their child will not be academically challenged if they learn in a multi-grade classroom. This is not true at all. At public schools there are only single grade classrooms, but in any given classroom, there can be a wide spectrum of abilities and maturity levels of the students. As a result, teachers have to almost always differentiate their teaching. For example, in a typical 8th grade class, the actual student abilities can be between 3rd grade to 10th grade. This makes it very difficult for teachers, especially when the class sizes are 3-4 times greater than most Christian schools. Combine this with the fact that many classrooms contain anywhere from 1-5 students with moderate to severe behavior problems that constantly disrupt the rest of the students, making it almost impossible for teachers to teach, and students to learn.
Historically, classical education was built on a three tier time frame for education that was not bound by a student’s age, but skill level. There are many advantages to a multi-grade classroom spiritually, academically, and socially.
A multi-grade classroom better reflects the style of learning in the world, where it is very rare to be in an environment where all of the people are of the same age and educational background.
“Students show increased self-esteem, more cooperative behavior, better attitudes toward school in general, increased pro-social (caring, tolerant, patient, supportive) behavior, enriched personal relationships, increased personal responsibility, and a decline in discipline problems.”
For more information: https://school.stpaulhamel.org/multigrade-classrooms
At today's public schools there is a lot of talk about teaching students "critical thinking" skills. One would assume that students receiving this type of training would be able to think independently and understand logical fallacies, etc. Sadly, this is not the case. Critical thinking in public schools is nothing more than a code word in which students must reject all authority, including God's, and appropriate what they deem to be right for themselves.* This is key evidence demonstrating that public schools are not in fact neutral, but they actively teach an anti-God atheistic ideology where the student is at the center. This of course is one of the main reasons why discipline is such a huge issue in public schools today, where teachers are basically powerless to reprimand students that misbehave. The many class disruptions that are created as a result, decreases the quality of education immensely.
In a classical Christian school, true critical thinking actually does take place, and not just in science. Students learn to think mathematically, geographically, theologically, and of course scientifically. They are also given the tools of logic to develop arguments based on the information they have learned. At St. Paul's, students in the logic stage (6-8th grade), learn about logical fallacies and how to identify them. Then, when they get older, they have a strong foundation in not only discerning truth from the lies, but also the ability to create their own arguments based in facts, evidence and strong reasoning skills.
Some parents have also asked, "If my student attends a faith based school, won't they miss out learning how to reason?" This is another common fallacy about religious schools like St. Paul's. As a Christian, students are taught that there is only one source of truth, and that is God. As was mentioned earlier, at public schools, a child's truth becomes absolute, and "truth is in the eye of the beholder", essentially making truth dangerously subjective as opposed to objective. And, since there is no foundation of actual truth in public schools, teachers have the ability to influence students any way they wish, depending on their own subjective "truths", administrators as well, all the way up to the Department of Education. At St. Paul's, when we teach geology, for example, students are taught Creationism and look at facts and evidence, of which there is a great deal. We also learn about the theory of Evolution. In public schools there is no mention of Creationism or even Intelligent Design. This is a logical fallacy (lying by omission) that is frequently used by many teachers. This clearly shows that the "faith" of progressive schools clearly hinders students from learning the truth, because anything remotely connected with a higher power is immediately rejected, regardless of the facts and evidence that may exist.
*Serpents in the Classroom, by Thomas Korcok (see resource section)