Classical Education

Why is the administration of Sacred Heart modifying their educational plan?

After learning about Classical methods, we feel that this approach will enhance the formation and educational program offered to the students of Sacred Heart. Our ongoing pursuit of Truth in the development of the human person will incorporate and develop time-tested methods and curricula that will immerse our students in the history and culture of Western civilization. This cultural immersion and the systematic teaching of content, skill, and habit are ordered toward the continued cultivation of virtue and faith.


What is Classical Education?

Classical education is the teaching of students in the pattern of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These three elements of learning are often referred to as stages.  Instruction at Sacred Heart will focus on the grammar and logic stages.

  • Students at the grammar stage (typically grades K–5) learn the building blocks and foundational knowledge of a subject.
  • Students in grades 6–8 then learn the logic, the organization of information within a particular subject, focusing on analysis and understanding of relationships within the content, and the development of critical thinking skills.
  • Students in grades 9–12 learn rhetoric, the written and oral expression of opinion based on what has been learned.

For example, if students are learning about Abraham Lincoln, the grammar stage would involve the memorization of facts about his life, where he lived, when he was president, and why he is an important figure in American history.  As students develop the ability to think more abstractly during the logic stage, they learn how his upbringing impacted his worldview, why the Gettysburg Address endures to this day, what values Lincoln held that led him to end slavery, and how his assassination affected Reconstruction.  As students advance their ability to think abstractly in the rhetoric stage, they begin to formulate their own thoughts and opinions through discussion, debate, speech, and essays based on their foundational knowledge they acquired at the previous stages.  Students might discuss the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation on foreign and domestic policies, or produce an analysis of how Lincoln’s debates with Stephen Douglass propelled the Republicans to national prominence.1


Practical modifications

  • Instruction in Latin for grades K–8
    • Students will study the vocabulary, structure, and use of Latin to better understand the roots of English and to inherit the cultural elements of the Language of the Church.
  • Classical works of Literature
    • Students will read and discuss literary works that exemplify the ideals, characteristics, and habits that we hope to instill in our students.
  • Expanded exposure to and study of the Arts
    • In addition to studying elements of art and music, students will be exposed to the work of great artists and composers.
  • Emphasis on Memorization and Poetry
    • Students at each grade level will memorize and present poetry (and other important works), both individually and chorally.


Transition Plan

Sacred Heart’s transition to the implementation of Classical methods and content will take place over the course of three years, beginning with the 2015–2016 school year.


1Information taken from