Three Pillars Upon Which Memoria Press is Built

Three pillars in the ancient world signifying the three pillars of classical Christian educationIs a classical education still relevant? Is it worth the time and the effort, or should our students be studying the modern world and modern languages, preparing for modern jobs? Every one of us wants to give our students the best possible education—but what is the best? The latter half of the twentieth century has given us the answers to these questions. The last century has been an attempt to educate students without Latin and the classics. It has not worked. We have seen a complete meltdown in education so shocking that there are no meaningful standards left.

Classical education has been around for 2,500 years, and though it has changed and evolved over time the essential core has always remained the same. It was invented by the Greeks, imitated and expanded upon by the Romans, preserved by the monks of the Middle Ages, and finally experienced a rebirth in the Renaissance that continued up to the first half of the twentieth century. We are not at liberty to redefine classical education or to let it die.

Latin and the classics provide training in language, logic, and critical thinking that cannot be duplicated by any other method. They give structure, depth, and meaning to a curriculum. There is no adequate substitute for the study of Latin and the classics. A classical Christian education gives students the background needed to understand the modern world. Without this background people are tossed about by any new idea, for they have been given no wisdom from the past to prepare them to act wisely in the difficult task of discerning the present and the future.

At Memoria Press we have built our curriculum upon three foundational pillars: Christian, Classical, and Traditional. We believe that an education built upon these pillars has the ability to form the character of each student—to instill discipline, teach virtue, and nourish faith.

I. Christian

A classical Christian education upholds traditional Christian morality, orthodox doctrine, and the divine inspiration of Scripture. Christian faith is incorporated into the daily life of students through school prayers that begin and end each day and Latin prayers and songs that are practiced from the primary through the upper school years. In the Memoria Press curriculum, Christian studies is a rigorous academic subject on the level of all other subjects. Students have Christian studies every year, becoming Bible literate in the lower grades and studying church history in the upper grades. Students read Augustine, Lewis, Dante, and Chesterton. They memorize and recite Scripture every year beginning in kindergarten, using the poetic King James Version. A Christian education is a foundational pillar of Memoria Press because it equips students to use the gift of knowledge in the service of others and for the glory of Christ and the church.

I like to compare classical Christian education to climbing a mountain. It is an arduous journey, but one that is exciting and exhilarating because as we climb upward we see the landscape below with so much clarity; we have ever larger vistas. And we really are reaching closer to God as we begin to see our human condition with an elevated vision rather than the low vision that we have from our carnal natures.

II. Classical

An essential core of a classical education is the study of Latin and the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Latin is the heart of a classical education. It is the most effective tool we have to train and develop the minds of the young. Latin forms the minds of students by impressing upon them its own qualities of structure, order, and logic, of which Latin is an unexcelled model. Students learn to focus, analyze, and think systematically as they work their way through the Latin grammar to the translation of Latin literature. The study of Latin literature is the final goal and culmination of a classical education—it is where students reap the reward of all the hard work that has gone before. In terms of usefulness and practicality, there is no subject children can study that intersects with every other subject more than Latin.

Latin isn’t the only concern of a classical education though. The other essential component is the classics themselves—reading the best that has been thought and said in literature and history. In the study of the humanities the goal is to build virtue in the soul so we can do and act rightly and to discourage vice so we can avoid hurting others and ourselves. Reading literature and history civilizes young people, teaching those human values that they are not born with: unselfishness, compassion, courage, integrity, and justice. Reading great books imparts wisdom and virtue. In the study of literature, the goal always must be to understand the author’s intent and to gain the wisdom he is seeking to teach us. When we have read a work of literature or studied a work of art or philosophy, our objective will be the ability to articulate in our own words—with clarity and brevity—the wisdom we gained from that work.

Literature, along with good role models and a robust Christian studies curriculum, is our best tool to accomplish the important goal of character formation.

III. Traditional

After a whole century of innovations that have not worked, the traditional classroom has proven its superiority over the modern, child-centered classroom. A traditional education puts an emphasis on basic skills, such as phonics, reading, spelling, math facts, and legible cursive penmanship. All students are trained in accuracy, attention to detail, and mastery. It is an education with a balanced curriculum that emphasizes both the humanities and math and science. Students are carefully prepared for each rung on the educational ladder they are climbing, and students of all ages have similar experiences and expectations. There are formal recitations and memorization exercises in every grade. This continuity and consistency is invaluable, providing students with clear and concrete expectations. Students thrive and learn in the traditional classroom because it provides a quiet, orderly, purposeful environment.

Subjects in a traditional classroom are given thorough treatment, not cursory attention. Quick surveys of a subject leave the student unfulfilled. A traditional education wastes no opportunities for learning. Every minute of the school day is precious, and we are duty bound to honor our students by not wasting their time or lowering our standards. A traditional education restores the high standards of the classical tradition within the framework of a warm Christian culture.

The ultimate goal of classical Christian education, in addition to teaching generalized skills, is to inculcate wisdom and virtue. Knowledge is a dangerous thing to give without the virtue and values to use it wisely. Classical Christian education is what parents instinctively want for their children. This education gives students the tools to meet the ever-changing world with sanity and the dexterity to adapt and excel, however they choose to make a living.

At one time, classical education was the only education. It still is.

Skip to content