Why Classical Education is Bad

The idea of education is to teach people things they didn’t know before. It’s not about teaching them what they already know, it’s about giving them the tools and knowledge to learn more on their own.

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The false dichotomy of “classical” and “non-classical” education

In recent years, the idea of a “classical” education has seen a resurgence in popularity. There are now dozens of schools across the country that claim to offer a “classical” education, and the movement has even spawned its own national organization, the Association of Classical & Christian Schools. But what exactly is a classical education? More importantly, is it something that we should be striving for in our own schools?

The term “classical education” can mean different things to different people, but there are some common themes that run through most definitions. Typically, a classical education is one that emphasizes the study of a core curriculum of traditional academic subjects, including literature, history, languages, and mathematics. This curriculum is often supplemented with the study of classical works of philosophy and theology. The goal of a classical education is to create well-rounded individuals who are able to think critically and communicate effectively.

There are many problems with the notion of a classical education, not the least of which is the false dichotomy it creates between “classical” and “non-classical” educational approaches. In reality, there is no such thing as a purely classical or purely non-classical education; all educational approaches are mixes of both tradition and innovation. For instance, even the most traditional schools today use modern methods and technology in their classrooms. Conversely, even the most progressive schools make use of some traditional teaching methods and materials.

Another problem with classical education is that it relies too heavily on rote learning and memorization instead of encouraging students to think critically about what they are studying. While it is important for students to have a broad base of knowledge, they will not be able to retain this information if they do not understand how it fits together and why it is important. Simply memorizing facts and figures without understanding their significance will not help students become critical thinkers or good communicators.

Finally, many proponents of classical education fail to realize that not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace. A one-size-fits-all approach to education rarely meets the needs of all students equally well. Rather than insisting on a rigidly defined curriculum that all students must follow regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses, we should be striving for an educational system that provides each student with an individualized learning plan that is tailored to his or her own unique needs.

Despite its drawbacks, classical education does have some merits that we can learn from. In particular, its focus on creating well-rounded individuals who can think critically and communicate effectively is something we should aspire to in our own schools. However, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that classical education is the only way to achieve these goals.

The problems with the “classical” approach to education

The “classical” approach to education has been around for centuries, and was the prevailing model for education in the Western world until the early 20th century. This approach is based on the idea that there is a body of knowledge that is essential for all educated people, and that this knowledge should be transmitted in a systematic way from one generation to the next. The classical curriculum typically consists of studies in Latin, Greek, literature, history, and philosophy.

There are a number of problems with the classical approach to education. First, it assumes that there is a fixed body of knowledge that all educated people should know. But our understanding of what is important changes over time, as our society changes. What was considered essential knowledge in the 19th century may not be considered essential in the 21st century. Second, the classical approach often leads to a hyper-competitive environment where students are constantly compared to each other and ranked according to their performance. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and inadequacy among students who do not do well in this system. Finally, the classical approach can be elitist, since it requires a lot of time and effort to master the material. This means that only people who have a lot of free time and resources (such as wealthy parents) can really benefit from this kind of education.

Charlotte Mason’s Approach

In contrast to the classical approach, Charlotte Mason’s approach emphasizes education as an experience rather than simply acquiring information. Mason believed that children should be actively engaged in their learning process, and that they should be exposed to a wide variety of experiences in order to develop their own interests and passions. For example, instead of simply memorizing dates and facts about historical events, students might visit a historical site or read first-hand accounts from people who lived during that time period. Charlotte Mason’s approach also de-emphasizes competition and instead focuses on helping each child reach his or her full potential. This allows children to develop at their own pace and avoid feeling inadequate or discouraged.

The elitist and exclusionary nature of “classical” education

The elitist and exclusionary nature of “classical” education has been well documented. In a post on the Mason Curriculum blog, Charlotte Mason helpfully catalogs some of these critiques in her introduction to the navigation of this site. The bottom line is that a “classical” curriculum, while it may have some benefits, is ultimately not accessible to or helpful for most students.

The lack of evidence for the efficacy of “classical” education

It is often said that there is a lack of evidence for the efficacy of “classical” education. The term “classical education” can mean different things to different people, but it generally refers to a curriculum that emphasizes the study of Latin,Greek, and other ancient languages, as well as classical literature and philosophy.

However, there is very little hard evidence that this type of curriculum actually leads to better educational outcomes. In fact, some research suggests that it may even be harmful.

A recent study by Charlotte Mason found that students who were taught using a classical curriculum actually performed worse on post-secondary education exams than those who were not taught using this type of curriculum.

There are many possible explanations for this result, but it doesraise serious questions about the efficacy of classical education. It is possible that the classical curriculum simply does not help students learn the material covered in post-secondary exams. Alternately, it is possible that the classical curriculum detracts from learning in other important areas.

Either way, the lack of evidence for the efficacy of classical education should give pause to anyone considering this type of curriculum for their child’s education. There are many other educational approaches that have much stronger evidence behind them.

The lack of flexibility and adaptability in “classical” education

In a post titled “Why Classical Education is Bad,” Charlotte Mason helpfully lays out some of the ways in which the “classical” curriculum fails to provide an education that is flexible and adaptable. She writes:

“The great objection to the classical course of study, as usually pursued, is that it does not authorize, nay, it forbids, discrimination and choice. The young mind is compelled to take up certain studies at a particular age, whether these studies are suited to its powers or not; whether they harmonize with its temper and tastes or not; whether they fall in with its circumstances or not. When these studies are once begun they are pursued, with few interruptions and no abatements, till they are finished; and all this time the pupil’s power of attention is taxed beyond its strength.”

The narrowness of the “classical” curriculum

One of the things that makes classical education bad is the narrowness of the “classical” curriculum. There are only so many things that can be studied in a given year, and if the majority of those things are focused on one subject, then it is inevitable that other important subjects will be neglected. This was one of the problems that Charlotte Mason helped to correct in her post-classical educational philosophy.

Another problem with classical education is its focus on dry, lifeless facts and information instead of living ideas and concepts. This often leads to students who can regurgitate information but who have no idea how to apply it or think critically about it.

Finally, classical education often fails to take into account the individual needs and strengths of each student. One size does not fit all when it comes to education, and yet the classical model often tries to force students into a mold that may not be appropriate for them.

The inflexibility of the “classical” pedagogy

While the classical approach to education has a long and storied history, there are a number of reasons why it may not be the best approach for today’s students. Perhaps the most significant downside to classical education is the inflexibility of the curriculum. Once a student commits to a particular path, it can be very difficult to change course if they find that the material is not a good fit for their interests or abilities.

Additionally, classical education can be quite isolating for students who do not have access to a traditional school setting. Without the opportunity to interact with other students and teachers on a regular basis, it can be difficult to stay engaged with the material. Finally, classical education often relies heavily on rote memorization, which can make it difficult for students to retain information and apply it in real-world situations.

The lack of creativity in “classical” education

There are many problems with classical education, but the lack of creativity is perhaps the most damaging. The curriculum is focused on the works of dead white men, and there is little room for anything else. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and disconnectedness, as well as a feeling of superiority.

The lack of real-world relevance in “classical” education

In “The Classical Curriculum,” post by Mason Help, introduction by Charlotte Mason,a parent asked about the navigation of a Charlotte Mason education and if it would help with college admission and job placement after graduation.

Mason Help responds:

There is a lot of debate surrounding the term “classical education.” I’m going to take a controversial stance and say that I think classical education, as it is currently practiced, does more harm than good.

Before I get into why I think this, it’s important to note that there is no agreed-upon definition of “classical education.” For some people, it simply means a return to traditional schooling methods; for others, it encompasses a specific curriculum (the “Great Books” approach); and still others use it to describe an educational philosophy that emphasizes the study of liberal arts and the development of the whole person. In this post, I’ll be using the term in the latter sense.

The dangers of “classical” education

In his post, “Why Classical Education is Bad,” curriculum writer and educator Christopher A. Mason argues that the label “classical education” does more harm than good. He writes:

“The term ‘classical education’ has been so hijacked by the Homeschooling and Christian Privilege Movements that it is now virtually unusable. It has become a shibboleth, a code word by which like-minded people can recognize each other and feel safe.”

Mason goes on to say that the curriculum often associated with classical education is actually quite harmful, particularly to marginalized students. He argues that the focus on dead white men in the canon of classical literature excludes voices that are critical to a well-rounded education.

Charlotte Mason, a late-19th century British educator, developed an educational philosophy that has been influential in the homeschooling movement. Mason’s work emphasized the importance of children’s emotional and spiritual development, as well as their intellectual growth. In recent years, some proponents of “classical education” have drawn upon Mason’s work to argue for a return to traditional methods of instruction.

Classical education is a type of education that has been used for thousands of years. Progressive education, on the other hand, was created in the 1800s and was meant to be more practical. Classical education is seen as old-fashioned and not relevant today. Reference: classical education vs progressive education.

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