Christian Classical Liberal Arts

The Christian classical liberal arts immerse our students in the great books and ideas which comprise the pageant of Western civilization. The study of these arts sets a proper course for a lifetime pursuit of wisdom by teaching the student to think, to love learning, and to passionately desire truth, beauty, and virtue. These liberal arts encompass both language skills and mathematical (science) skills. Within this larger framework, our particular scope at Providence Prep is limited to the disciplines of language, literature, and history. We do fully expect that students are making regular progress in the study of math and science, either at home or in other classes.

Christian Classical Liberal Arts

The gospel of Jesus Christ is central. Education that is distinctly Christian begins with the conviction that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10). We subscribe to the historic creeds and confessions of the traditional Protestant church. On doctrinal matters, we hold to the principle, “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, and in all things, charity.”

Christian Classical Liberal Arts

The classical model of education is rooted in the pedagogy of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Paideia is the Greek word which we translate education. In Climbing Parnassus, Tracy Lee Simmons argues that this word is better translated enculturation. He says, “Paideia was about instilling core values, enunciating standards, and setting moral precepts.” Thus, the classical Greek view of education meant something much more than our typical understanding of the word; it referred to the training of the whole man—mind, soul, and heart—to fit him for his place in his culture and society.
Our aim as Christians in training our children—mind, soul, and heart—is to fit them for their place in the Kingdom, which in turn will fit them to lead and shape their culture and society. This philosophy of education, rooted in the classical pedagogy of the ancient Greeks and Romans, has been embraced by western Christians for the past two millennia, has been instrumental in bringing about the great flowering of Western civilization, and has produced many of the best theologians, thinkers, authors, and statesmen, including the apostle Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and C.S. Lewis.

Christian Classical Liberal Arts

The word liberal is derived from the Latin word for free. The liberal arts in the ancient world were those disciplines considered essential for the education of a freeborn person. These disciplines were further developed and divided into the trivium (the language arts) and the quadrivium (the mathematical arts) during the Middle Ages. The culture which resulted from this classical tradition ushered in a society that achieved individual freedoms which, though imperfect and far from universal, were unprecedented in the history of the world. Without the classical liberal arts tradition of the West, there could have been no Magna Charta, no Mayflower Compact, and no Constitution of the United States.

This, then, has been the prevailing method of education in the West over the past two millenia. Yet, during the twentieth century, education in the United States, and in much of the West, shifted away from the classical liberal arts tradition. Dr. Gene Edward Veith, former provost of Patrick Henry College, contrasts classical education with the utilitarian model of education which is so prevalent today:

The (American) founders emphasized the value of a “liberal” education—from the Latin word meaning “freedom.” Free citizens of the Roman Republic were trained to develop their mental faculties to the fullest, through the trivium and quadrivium of the so-called “liberal arts.” Slaves were given only a vocational training, taught not to think for themselves but only to serve the economy; in other words, the kind of education being demanded by many Americans today, the curriculum of slavery. ~ World Magazine, September 19, 1998 (emphasis ours)

A classical liberal arts education frees the mind to think, to discern, and to reason. It trains young people not to be swayed by every popular new idea that comes along or to remain in intellectual subjugation to the powers that be. The church, the culture, and the nation are in great need of such citizens.

There is so much to learn about the philosophy and practices of classical education and the myriad ways in which it is superior to the prevailing educational practices of our day. Begin reading through the articles listed on the Parent Resources page in order to more fully understand the overarching vision of our commitment to the Christian classical liberal arts.