What Should Schools Teach? is the title of a recent book and an intriguing question in its own right. It is probably also a question that most people do not seriously consider: the curriculum seems set in stone so we can easily assume that what is taught is what must be taught. This is particularly true in the UK, where exams seem to drive the curriculum; the need to prepare students for GCSEs and A Levels dictates what is taught throughout much of a child’s teens.
However, the truth of the matter is that a lively debate is currently going on about the curriculum, and within that debate there are increased calls for a return to Classical Education. This is particularly relevant to Catholic parents; we must prepare our children for the Kingdom of Heaven, as well as for the world.
Two things shape a Classical Education: the method and the sources.
The Classical method realises that there are three main areas of a subject: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In mastering all of these, you truly master the subject as a whole, being able to deeply understand it and explain it to others.
Then, the sources are ‘the classics’. They are referred to as classics for a reason, because they are good, true, and beautiful and this is why they have stood the test of time. A good example of this would be the works of Shakespeare or Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’.
We want our students to enjoy learning and develop a lifelong love of learning. To do this, Classical Education embraces the fact that children learn best in different ways and at different stages of their growth. This is broken down into stages that map the general development of the child.