What we teach accounts for half of our success. How we teach is equally important. Our methods are time tested—going back over two thousand years.
Emerging human brain research validates these methods. We focus on discrete skills that make up our arts. Classical education builds precept upon precept. Our students learn to identify the grammatical structure of a difficult passage over time. Or they learn to create persuasive arguments through more and more difficult exercises. They learn skills in a variety of contexts.
Those contexts cause our students to think deeply about the use of the skills. We can say this in another way. Learning requires practice. Practice includes standards of excellence, rules of obedience, and the production of goods. These goods are both external and internal. The external would be a well written paragraph. The internal would be the fortitude the student drew on to complete the exercise.
Mastery of skills in this manner creates fluency in verbal and quantitative reasoning. This allows the transference of these skills to new and unique situations. Such a skill based education differs from the knowledge based, contemporary approaches to education today. Learning through subjects assumes the skills that we explicitly teach. The difference is profound in a student’s learning experience.