Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lucia What is a Classical Education?

Yesterday I spent a bit of time looking over the draft national standards for primary school children. I was horrified to see that after one year of school the standards expected children to be able to write a "creative" story. The sample given was an example of tortured writing that showed clearly the poor child had not yet mastered the use of the pencil.

As is to be expected, children of six (especially boys) typically have not yet developed the fine motor control to control a pencil with dexterity. Any writing attempted can be a slow, painful process. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but if we are talking about a "standard", then one would assume that the standard is the level of competency aspired to by most pupils at that age. Apparently not, according to Anne Tolley.
Education Minister Anne Tolley said schools should not worry about making sure all children reached the required standards in their first year.

The Government was more interested in how much progress pupils made in that year and the rest of their years at school.
Interesting. Why is the Government interested in how long it takes a child to get from a to b? Will have to file that one away ...

Anyway, primary school principals are naturally alarmed by the upcoming standards and have protested that many children come to school being unable to hold a pencil at all, therefore achieving the standard could be nigh on impossible and reflect badly upon their schools.

I reiterate all this because rather than expecting my children to run before they can walk, I've taken the classical approach to education which expects alot, but at age appropriate times. I'm not even sure where "creative writing" fits into it.

So, I thought I'd post a much more succinct article on what a classical education is by Peter Kreft. According to Kreft, one of the functions of a teacher is to raise the dead. And Peter Kreft is very good at pointing out where a classical education leads. Probably away from what most securalists and Marxists want.

The content of the curriculum of a classical Christian school, on primary, secondary, or college levels, is similar to the core of the "arts and sciences" core of a university, which was developed from the medieval curriculum of the "seven liberal arts" of the "trivium" and the "quadrivium," which was invented by Plato in Book 7 of the Republic. The sciences include mathematics, the natural sciences, and sometimes also the human sciences. The "arts," or humanities, include language (the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic or logic—in English, Latin, and Greek), literature, history, perhaps political science, and finally philosophy, theology, and religion.

Mathematics is to the sciences what the trivium is to the humanities. Any science program that ignored or despised mathematics, as modern "humanities" have largely ignored or despised the trivium, would have sunk like a torpedoed ship long ago, and been thoroughly discredited throughout academia.

Read more: What is a Classical Education? ~ Memoria Press

5 comment(s):

mojo said...

'but at age appropriate times?'

Lucia Maria said...


Is your question, what are the age appropriate times? or, what do you mean by age appropriate times?

ZenTiger said...

Or perhaps Mojo is hinting he expected to instead see the phrase "but at times appropriate to their age"...

he may well be a product of a very classical education, and not up with the hip catch phrases :-)

mojo said...

Indeed he may Zen.
Skill level is really an artefact of 'factory' input into skills training. National Standards are an endeavour to ensure that those publicly funded 'factories'are fulfilling their primary function of 'imparting an education,' and goodness knows australian research, unlike nz, shows that good teaching practice overcomes socio-economic disadvantage.
'Age appropriate' suggests something akin to Piaget revisited, as opposed to specifically addressing the 'can't yet do's,' or seeing some skills as more important than others and putting greater emphasis/more input in to the acquisition or learning of those.
Fine motor co-ordination is a good example of this: postulated differences in gender maturation don't really tell the story when so many boys can readily outperform their female counterparts on video games ... 'fine,' you may say.
National standards are necessary to bring about visibility, accountability and stop those aforementioned 'factories' adopting/implementing their own agendas.
Let there be comparative advertising!

Lucia Maria said...


You need to read my long excerpt at the end of my post on 5yo's not being able to hold a pencil, to understand what I mean by age-appropriate.

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