Classical Education is the systematic building of critical thought across the three phases of the educational spectrum: elementary (grammar), middle (logic), and high school (rhetoric). In using this "three-pronged" approach classical education organizes teaching and learning around the developmental capacity of the child's mind.
In the first phase of classical education students acquire, memorize, and recite facts around history, grammar, math and science. Once students have an established foundation of factual knowledge they build upon it at a new level of understanding acquired in the middle grades. At this stage of learning students tend to be "argumentative", challenging facts and seeking to learn answers to "why". Due to their new focus and ability to think in the abstract, they are better able to delve into and investigate the motives or logic behind history, math, grammar, and science. In the final phase of classical education, high school students use their mastery of facts (elementary) along with their developing ability to reason, analyze, and draw conclusions (middle) to express themselves through the spoken and written word. Essentially, students in this final phase are able to synthesize, evaluate and effectively communicate their thoughts around all that they have learned.
According to Wise and Wise-Bauer (2009)*, classical education is language intensive; demanding that students use and understand words rather than video images. Classical education is also history intensive; thus providing students with a comprehensive view of the human endeavor from the beginning until present. Additionally, it trains the student's mind to analyze, draw logical conclusions and exercise self-discipline. Finally, students who learn using the classical approach to education are equipped with the tools to be lifelong learners.
* Wise & Wise-Bauer (2009). The Well-Trained Mind. Norton & Company: New York