A key component of Classical education is that it is primarily language-focused. Language-focused means learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).
Why is this important? Language-learning and image learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back” and relax. When faced with the written page, the reader’s mind is required to roll its sleeves up and dissect bits of information, making connections and deductions, while rigorously creating its own images.
Constant successful language-based study in the classroom creates confidence in both the student and the teacher to pull increasingly more difficult books off the shelf and dig in. This pattern of rigorous study at the same time develops virtue. Aristotle defined virtue as the ability to act in accordance with what one knows to be right. The virtuous person can force themself to do what they know to be right, even when it goes against their inclinations.
The classical education system continually asks a student and a teacher to work against their baser inclinations (laziness, or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) to reach a goal or mastery of a subject. For these two key reasons, the classical ed classroom focuses primarily on words and not the screen while asking teachers to study the text and not clips.
These are some of the reasons we choose the classical education model at American Preparatory Academy.
For more information on the classical education curriculum, please visit the CiRCE Institute.