Thursday, April 28, 2005

Building Children Like Roads

Training children classically is like building a road like the Romans did. You must begin with a solid foundation. Romans used large rocks as a foundation. In classical education, the informational boulders are large fact groups. These large fact groups make up the grammar of each subject. For Latin, these are the inflections for declensions and conjugations, and vocabulary. In math, these are multiplication tables and adding and subtracting facts. In Bible, these are major stories and characters, and books of the Bible. History, Science, Art, and Music also have grammars that form the basis of knowledge for each category.

Romans used various smaller rocks, gravel, sand, or flint for the next layers of a road. These are the things that packed everything together tightly and made the road solid. In education, these are the relationships between the information found in the large fact groups, and the relationships between the subjects themselves. This training is done during the junior high years, when students have mastered the grammar of a subject and are ready to begin studying how those facts came to be and how they affect the world. This is the time students are taught formal logic. Logic and the relationships between subjects cement the information into a single body of knowledge instead of fragmented groups of facts.

Roman roads were finished with smooth paving stones that were more comfortable to drive a cart or walk on and made travel more efficient. On these finished roads traveled the ideas of Greece and Rome, the power of the military, and the truth of the Gospel. In education, rhetoric has the power to swiftly and accurately convey ideas and truth. When the Romans equipped themselves with a network of completed roads, they were able to conquer other lands more efficiently and quell uprisings quickly. When a student is equipped with rhetoric, which has been laid on a foundation of grammar and the cement of logic, he is able to conquer ideas more efficiently and to persuasively tear down falsehoods quickly. It is through the rhetoric of students so trained that the great ideas and truths will be conveyed to the next generation.

It is the hope of the builders of the Christian classical education movement that the work being done in the hearts and minds of these students will stand the test of time as the Roman roads have.

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