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Classical Education 101, Part 2

The Importance of Language Arts

by Scott Phillips, J.D.,

Last month we started a three part series to answer the question, “What is Classical Education?” As we shared then, classical education is not traditional nor is it old fashioned; it is a proven methodology of training students “how to think” not “what to think.”

In last month’s Part 1, “Why the Trivium,” we explained that classical education begins with understanding that the human mind develops in three stages – the Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric Stages.

The second overarching aspect found in classical education is the strong focus on language arts because there is a well-proven and time tested understanding that good learning is accomplished through the use of words, both spoken and written; much more so than through images such as pictures, videos, or other forms of visual media.

The study and practice of Latin roots, the Latin language, grammar, spelling, reading, writing, listening and speaking requires students to process information and translate written letters or words heard into connected concepts. This is true exercise for the brain.

We have all seen our children “zone-out” in front of the television, movie screen or with video games. Why? Because the brain is not required to pull the information out of words to form the images. This is why these forms of media are called “entertainment” versus “education.”

So, classical education begins with two very important pieces. First, as discussed last month, there are three specific stages to learning: a foundation of factual knowledge, a logical grid through which to understand this knowledge, and the ability to express sound judgment based on the logical understanding of the knowledge.

Second, classical education relies on a strong language focus during each stage in order to ensure that the mind is being exercised in preparation for more knowledge, greater logic, and deeper understanding. This is critical to success throughout life.

Please read the final piece to our series next month for the third and last overarching piece to classical education and a complete picture of how it can benefit your child.

Scott Phillips, J.D. is the CEO and Headmaster for Heritage Classical Charter Schools/Temecula Preparatory School. Twitter: @