Classical education is based on the belief that human beings are unique in the natural world through their intelligence and free will. They are able to contemplate truth and beauty. An education that helps our students to become the best human beings possible will have this contemplation as its goal. Such an education is based on a conviction that creation is knowable, and that through study and thought humans can learn about the physical world, human nature, and God. This knowledge is best achieved by introducing students into the tradition of Western thought. The Great Books of Western culture – “the best that has been thought and said” – are the primary means of encountering this tradition. By introducing our students to these works, we give them the means to enter into a conversation about the most important questions facing humans, such as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the best human life.
The classical tradition of education does not merely look to hand down truths. It primarily aims at preparing students’ minds to see the truth for themselves. The liberal arts – ways of training the mind to use words and numbers well –enable the student to seek the truth. Students undergoing such an education will be able to think clearly, write well, and express themselves persuasively.
Since classical education is primarily concerned with seeking the truth, we do not “teach to the test.” Classes frequently use Socratic discussions, where the teacher presents questions to initiate conversation among the students, to help the students understand the works. This method of teaching starts from where the students are, and so encourages them to come to a true understanding of what they study. This method fosters the art of conversation, which helps them develop virtues within a community of friends.
This education addresses not only the mind but also the character. Because we desire what we see as good, learning about virtue and human excellence will influence behavior. Helped by the example and encouragement of our teachers and faculty, our students will grow in both the knowledge and practice of the virtues. They will learn to seek their own good and the good of the communities of which they are a part. The truly educated person will be the best citizen of their country.
This education is aimed at forming a complete human being. It is the best preparation for a life’s work because it forms a thinking, capable individual who can excel in any profession or area of study. After a classical education, our students can turn to any pursuit with the tools necessary to achieve excellence.