Classical Education

Catholic classical education:

The most successful method of education ever developed

o Significantly higher grades o More effective reading, writing, and speaking skills
o Ability to quickly learn foreign languages o Better analytical and critical thinking skills
o A love for learning o More in-depth understanding of subjects
o Lessons in good citizenship o Living the Catholic faith in all grade levels

…And it works for nearly every student, from the average to the advanced!

A Catholic classical education is the oldest and the most successful method of education ever developed. Classical teaching methods and the early integration of Latin from the first grade help students to learn faster and move ahead of their non-classical peers in most subjects. This prepares them to be advanced learners in high school and college, putting their scores in the top 10-15 percent on college entrance exams.

Saint Benedict School’s classical education can benefit almost any student, from the average to the advanced.  Children gravitate to the classical method because it builds on their natural intellectual curiosity. The classical approach nurtures students’ intellectual and spiritual potential, inspiring them to want to learn; it teaches them logic, reason, and critical thinking, showing them how to learn; and it holds up examples of good citizenship and moral and virtuous behavior, demonstrating why they learn.

The classical approach was the dominant method for teaching for centuries up until the early 1900s. While many modern educational approaches have failed to educate students better than their predecessors, returning to the classical approach is about returning to what works, not returning to the past. What you see at Saint Benedict is a teaching system based on more than 2,000 years of experience.

While students still learn the fundamentals – math, history, science, English, and theology – they also learn at the feet of the giants of history by studying the classical literature, language, art, music, and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome and the long Western intellectual tradition that was built on their foundation.

In addition, the study of Latin helps students acquire the building blocks of English and develop a more extensive vocabulary and a better command of English grammar, which leads to more effective reading, writing, and speaking, as well as the ability to quickly pick up other languages.

“Classical education is the most successful curriculum ever developed, whether measured by its results in literature, art, music, science, philosophy, law or politics.” 

- E. Christian Kopff, author and associate professor of classics, University of Colorado

Classes are naturally integrated so students see the relationships between what they are currently learning in math or Latin, for example, and its relevance to what they have already learned in science or history. This natural integration gives students a greater understanding of their subjects and helps them to permanently mentally assimilate everything they learn, instead of just memorizing facts, repeating them for a test, and then forgetting them soon thereafter.

Saint Benedict School also has a strong Catholic identity and a commitment to teaching the Catholic faith throughout all grade levels and instilling in students a love for God and respect for His Creation.

Finally, the small class size and family-like atmosphere at Saint Benedict School mean more personal attention for each student.

Why Latin?

The study of Latin helps students acquire the building blocks of English and develop a more extensive vocabulary and a better command of English grammar, leading to more effective reading, writing, and speaking. This is because Latin exposes students to the word roots, prefixes, and suffixes that constitute 60% of the English language. Latin and Greek are also the sources for English vocabulary in many important areas such as law, medicine, science, philosophy, politics, and theology.

Latin also provides a foundation for quickly and easily learning other languages because it is the basis for five other major languages (and 20 minor ones), including Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian, which are spoken by people in more than 50 countries. When students have a strong Latin education, they already know 80% of each of these other languages. In an increasingly global society, the ability to quickly pick up new languages is a tremendous career asset.

Moreover, with their knowledge of Latin, students learn directly from the Latin writings of the great theologians of the church, such as Saint Augustine, Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Why classical?

With a classical education, students not only get the fundamentals like math, sciences, history, English, and religion, but also Latin, music, art, logic, rhetoric, classical literature, and more. The classical method stimulates and exercises both sides of the brain – both the logical and the creative – which allows greater development of the intellect.

Saint Benedict School’s classical curriculum integrates classical literature, where students learn first-hand from the greatest minds of Western history by reading the original books written in the authors’ own words, rather than others’ interpretations, where the precision of important concepts often gets lost in translation. For example, when studying George Washington, students study his writings and what his contemporaries wrote about him, which offers a much deeper educational experience than a chapter in a textbook can give.

Students are also exposed to the arts from the earliest grades. By composing music and creating art, students see and understand the beauty God has created for us and are taught how to reflect that beauty in their own creations.

A classical education also develops students’ analytical and critical thinking skills by teaching them how to use reason and think logically. This prepares children for higher-level learning, teaches them to become solutions-oriented problem-solvers, and develops independent thinkers who seek truth and see through poor reasoning and fallacious arguments. Students learn how to speak and write more effectively, more articulately, and more persuasively.

Additionally, a Catholic classical education equips students to function in a free society by teaching them that individual liberty comes with personal responsibility. The study of Scripture, history, classical literature, and classical philosophers forms children into better citizens because they learn to emulate the giants of church and world history and their civic virtues such as citizenship, piety, statesmanship, justice, courage, and an appreciation for God’s fundamental truths.

Saint Benedict School has been educating students for almost a century. Our graduates are accepted into their choice of highly selective high schools, including Benedictine College Preparatory, Saint Gertrude High School, Collegiate School, St. Christopher’s School, and specialty programs in the public schools, including Governor’s Schools. Click here for a comprehensive list of schools.

Besides our classical approach, Saint Benedict School also has a strong Catholic identity and a commitment to teaching the Catholic faith throughout all grade levels. Many of our parents say that’s one of our strongest attractions.

Saint Benedict’s teachers also make the difference. Our dedicated faculty are highly trained, yet they also respect that parents are the primary educators. And our small class size means more personal attention for each student.

Our school has a safe, family-like atmosphere, and many of our parents say they feel like the school is an extension of the home. Our teachers and students alike provide a supportive learning environment where children respect each other and thrive academically.

Finally, Saint Benedict School is fully accredited by the Virginia Catholic Education Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is approved by the Virginia Council for Private Education.

If your child is not currently enrolled at Saint Benedict School and you would like to know more about us, please call or email at (804) 254-8850 or admissions@saintbenedictschool.org to set up an appointment.