Memoria Press’ educational philosophy can be best described as classical Christian education. Classical Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This is accomplished in two ways: first, through training in the liberal arts; and secondly, through a familiarity with the great books and the great thinkers of the Western tradition.

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The liberal arts are the general linguistic and mathematical skills that enable a person to excel in every academic area—as well as in the practical activities of life. In classical and medieval times, there were thought to be seven of these arts or skills: grammar, logic, and rhetoric (the “trivium”), as well as arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the “quadrivium”). The first three were linguistic arts, and the last four were mathematical. We would probably say today that there are more than just the four mathematics skills worthy of mastery, but the liberal arts remain the greatest summary of the skills a person should be expected to know in order to be accounted an educated person.

Through the study of the greatest that has been thought and said by Western writers and thinkers, we pass our cultural heritage on to our children. Western civilization is made up of three elements: the Greeks, the Romans, and the Hebrews—and the coalescing of these three cultures into what later became known as Christendom, the Christian civilization that remained the dominant cultural force in the West until the early twentieth century. A familiarity with the Greeks, the Romans, and, most importantly, the Christian Bible is essential to understanding our culture.

The liberal arts are the “how” of education, and the study of Western culture is the “what.” A mastery of both of these is the best way to prepare a child, not only for college, but for life.

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In classical education, students read the classics. They focus their attention on what the Victorian scholar Matthew Arnold called “the best which has been thought and said.” In Western civilization, our focus should be on what I call the “three cultures”: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem—the Greeks, the Romans, and the Hebrews.

But why study these cultures? We should study the Greeks because the Greeks were the archetype of philosophical and literary man. They were the original philosophers and poets. Every great idea—and every lousy one—came from some Greek somewhere. All you’ve got to do is trace it back. Why study the Romans? We study the Romans because the Romans were the archetype of practical, political man. They were the road builders and the republicans of ancient times. These are the people who ran the world for a thousand years. They ran the most enduring government history has ever seen. In fact, the Founding Fathers used the old Roman republic as their model in constructing the American government. Why study the Hebrews? We study the Hebrews because they are the archetype of spiritual man. From them we learn how God deals with individuals and with nations.

In studying these three cultures, classical education does not ignore American history and culture. In fact, in order to fully understand American civilization, a knowledge of these three cultures is crucial since, as political philosopher Russell Kirk has pointed out, all three of them were essential in the forming of our thought, our political institutions, and our moral principles. We study these three cultures and the great works they produced because they constitute our heritage as Western people.