The Trivium: These three arts—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—are the Western tradition for learning and language study. Dorothy Sayers in her 1948 essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, observed that these arts were analogous to the child’s phases of learning. Classical Christian schools take advantage of this observation.
Integration of content: Integration reveals the unity of God’s world, so CCE schools value integration of content like history, literature, science, math, composition, language, etc. Some CCE schools teach multiple subjects in the same class to create a unity of understanding. Others integrate in a more conventional classroom organized by discipline or subject.
Focus: Classical schools focus students on learning fewer things well. Classical Christian education was not dismissed, it was pushed out. When good coursework or methods are brought in, they replace great coursework and classical methods, and compete for the focus of the students.
Good Teachers: A good teacher is first a Christian, then a scholar, then a teacher. Some have formal graduate degrees in traditional scholarly fields. Others gained their scholarship informally. The student will become like the master. Those who teach artistry in some form must be masters of their craft, if they are to train masters. Specialized training in teaching, while valuable, is of secondary importance. Teaching is a spiritual gift and should be recognized as such.Teachers of young students (K-6) are nurturers, but should also be scholars and learners. The level of scholarship required for the teacher increases in the secondary.
Imitation and practice: We teach many skills and habits as they form in students during their school years. First we teach habits as a form, then through imitation, and then through repeated practice toward mastery.
Recitation: Memory work such as great oratory, poetry, and virtue sayings are trained through recitation in grammar school and beyond. These advance the student’s vocabulary and aesthetic, and embed virtuous ideas.
Socratic discussion: We train students in the art of reason and argument through dialog (often around a table). Students challenge ideas and work from the greatest literary sources under the guidance and mediation of the teacher. In this, we train students to submit to, internalize, harmonize, align with, and accept God’s truth—not individual, subjective “truths.”
Assessment: Our goal is to assess humanely, not mechanically. Our assessment recognizes that ideas, understanding, and thought are more important than mere information. Christian virtue lived out is also recognized. For example, hard work and humility are weighed in assessing a student—not just mastery—in accordance with the parable of the talents. Traditional grades, however, are a measure to communicate mastery to outside entities. We respect the integrity of academic performance in grading. Persuasive speaking and writing are supported in various ways, including oral testing, discussion rubrics, one on one engagements, and presentations.