One of the best educations a child can receive is a classical education. It is the training that the ancient Greeks received, as well as the Italian nobles of the Renaisaance and America's Founding Fathers. A classical education focuses on the three things which were considered to be the reason for and thus the focus of education up until the 1800s: truth, virtue, and beauty. This is in contrast to today's modern education system which focuses on knowledge as a conduit to a profitable skill.
Part of a classical education is learning by Socratic dialogue, meaning that instead of simply telling a child information, the child is asked thought-provoking questions which promote critical thinking. Whether your child is currently enrolled in a classical school or not, there are things you can do to promote this kind of interactive, substantive thinking and dialogue in your home.
When you speak about any issue or idea around the dining table or in the car, ask your children the following questions:
• Should this have been done?
• Define your terms (what do you mean by that)?
• What exactly is that and why is it like it is?
• What is the relationship between these two things?
• What are the consequences?
• Is this helpful (how can this be applied)?
• What does authority say about this?
• Is this honorable?
The benefits of introducing this kind of structure to your family conversations are three-fold. First, your interest in their reasoned opinions and feelings will demonstrate the value you place on them as thinking individuals. Second, it will encourage your children to spend time contemplating and discussing meaningful issues and thus develop their critical thinking, logical analysis, and communication skills. Third, it will greatly expand the depth and quality of your family’s interaction.
If you have an interest in learning more about the classical education approach, please feel free to call me at 863/255-3942.