Providence offers a classical education in the broad sense of being traditional, time-tested, and intellectually rigorous rather than in the narrower sense of being centered in Latin and Greek studies. A classical education is based on great ideas, great books (including primary sources when possible), foundational truths and principles, and enduring traditions and skills. It holds to established standards.
Those who assume that methods used for millennia can be dismissed within a generation forget that time is the best laboratory, especially regarding human behavior. It has taken modern educators only fifty years to disassemble an educational system that took many centuries to develop and refine. This system educated most of America’s founding fathers as well as the world’s philosophers, scientists, and leaders between the tenth and early twentieth centuries.
The “classics” at the core of a classical education at Providence are works of art, music, literature, history, or science, each of which expresses profound insight, artistic creativity, or enduring cultural value. By studying the classics, students encounter the most influential thinkers, artists, and writers, and gain an understanding of Western history and culture. The classics are touchstones of excellence, so that by studying them, students learn aesthetic discernment and discrimination and how to soundly judge what is bad or worse, good or best. But much more than this, by filtering the classics through the grid of God’s Word, we impart to students a Christian perspective, which equips them to make moral judgments, not merely about the basic questions of right and wrong, but also about profound ideas, including those that directly clash with Christianity. The classical, Christian education is marked by the teacher’s ability to train students to make critical judgments about such matters—judgments based upon biblical and philosophical truths.
Providence purposefully departs from the classical model that follows a strict chronological timeline of study from the earliest years. Rather than confuse very young children who are just learning about their own heritage and the faith of their fathers, Providence begins not with classical antiquity and the Greek and Roman gods but rather with the children’s own Christian and American heritage.