What is Classical Christian Education?
Classical Christian Education (CCE) is a centuries-tested approach that begins with the principle that God created everything, and that He has gifted us with the ability to discover, study, and marvel at so much of it. Loving God with all our minds means showing students that everything is the result of God’s creative energy, and that there is nothing over which he is not Lord.
Grounded in Piety, Governed by Theology
At RCA, we begin the educational journey by emphasizing a proper love and fear of God and respect for fellow humans. Although the word piety does not have a simple definition, for us, the word signifies duty toward, love of, and respect for God, one’s parents, and authority figures from our past and present communities. We want our students to know that even though they are young, they are in relationships with a great number of people—family, friends, teachers, church leaders, and God—and that those relationships ought to be marked by a posture of faithfulness, love, and preference for the other. We also want them to know how they are historically situated in place and time, so that they can come to know who they are and how they can contribute to the renewal of this world as agents of Christ.
“A man who won’t submit himself to the laws of prudence when walking on ice will submit himself to the laws of nature.” – G.K. Chesterton
We are embodied beings—body and soul—and our experience of the world, even purely intellectual activity, is bound up with the use of our bodies. Imagine someone trying to do handwriting without first knowing how to hold the pencil properly. Imagine someone trying to kick a ball into a goal without knowing first how to manipulate the angle of his or her foot. Aristotle asked his readers to imagine someone trying to exercise courage who has never done anything difficult or painful with his or her body. That person would shrink in fear not knowing what it was like.
We look for opportunities to teach our students to master their bodies, to engage with the physical world, and to experience nature without the mediating use of technology. Our education includes lots of time outside and Tae Kwon Do instruction provided by Agape Black Belt Center.
…And Tuning Hearts
“My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in unbroken certainly, I learned in the nursery.” – G.K. Chesterton
Songs, stories, fairy tales build in children the capacity, the longings, and the loves the need to receive education. Our desire is to train the things our students love by nourishing them on the true, the good, and the beautiful. If students come out of school knowing how to calculate and decipher, but don’t long for truth and beauty, the education they received has failed them. We seek to awaken wonder in our students by giving them a rich banquet of literature, visual art, music, history, and poetry. For us, these parts of an RCA education are not just specials, but rather they are essentials.
Our morning assembly includes singing the great hymns of the church every day, we engage our students with songs and chants to help them learn content, they have visual arts and musical instruction several times each week, and they read and memorize poetry starting in kindergarten. We show them that we create because God created and we are made in His image.
Recommended Resources for Further Discovery
The beginning of classical education dates to the time before Christ. Under the direction of Christians, it has been expanded, refined, and codified over the centuries. It almost fell out of favor completely but there has been a renewal movement underway since the early 1980s. Because the history is so extensive, we want to guide parents toward a greater understanding of what it is as they consider giving their children a classical Christian education. The below resources are listed in increasing order of time commitment. We hope that as you engage with one resource, you are interested in reading or watching the next. It is an exciting journey and we hope you will join us!
- The Gospel Coalition: The Exponential Growth of Classical Christian Education (5 minute read)
- Association of Classical Christian Schools: Classical Christian Education: Is it Right For Your Child? (10 minute read, PDF download)
- The Classical Difference: 10 Differences Between Classical Christian Schools and Traditional Christian Schools (15 minute read)
- Christopher Perrin: An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents (1 hour read)
- Association of Classical Christian Schools videos: Part 1: Geronimo Amen (20 min) and Part 2: Forging a New Path (17 min)
- ParentU (a free course from ClassicalU). There are five videos presented by Dr. Christopher Perrin, each 10-15 minutes long.
What are the Results?
The Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) commissioned a study of alumni from public, secular private, Catholic, traditional Christian, religious homeschool, and ACCS schools. In this study, they sought to understand the different outcomes these types of education had on the students with respect to life outlook, preparation for college and career, participation in Christian practices, influence on communities and the broader culture, as well as attitudes, values, and opinions. The link below leads to a summary page, near the bottom of which is a link the full fifty-seven page report, as well as a Q&A link about the design and execution of the survey itself.
Click here to read about Good Soil: A Comparative View