There seems to be surging interest in classical education these days, as noted by various news stories including this one from the Indianapolis Star. I’m going to go out on a limb here and write about what classical education teachers tend to be like. It’s true, there is a wide variety of approaches to classical education. But this list is supposed to generalize.
- They are interested in what has long been called the Western Canon (a group of classical fictional and poetry texts) and Western Civilization (a history of a type of democratic and/or republican government that emphasizes opportunities for citizens to self-rule.)
- They believe in the education of the whole child, body, soul, and spirit.
- They tend to use more traditional instruction methods such whole class discussions, writing book reports, doing science fair projects, memorizing word roots, phonics, memorizing poems and math facts, etc.
- They tend to see instruction in Latin as a necessary component of a classical education.
- They tend to emphasize music performance including choir, orchestra, and home instruction in playing instruments.
- They tend to expect students and parents to follow the rules of instruction and homework regimens and to feel that failure to follow these rules and expectations should necessarily lead to failing grades.
- They tend to demand an orderly classroom.
- They often subscribe to conservative religious and/or political beliefs but this is by no means universal. Classical education appeals to many liberal-minded folks as well, and teachers as a group tend to be more liberal than the general populace.
- They tend to take the long view of education, seeing it as a 12 or 13 year, or better still, life-long process, not something in which failure or success will be decided by high stakes tests in April.