Consuming the Classics

By Marla Helseth

WHEN at the first I took my Pen in hand,
Thus for to write; I did not understand
That I at all should make a little Book
In such a mode; Nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun.

The Author’s Apology For His Book, by John Bunyan

The words “classic” and “classical” can have many definitions. A “classical education” in medieval times meant an education that included grammar, logic, and rhetoric as the foundational “three roads that meet” called the Trivium. At Agape Christi, we use the methodology of the Trivium with the understanding that Christ is the source of all paths of knowledge, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” John 14:6.

Within this classical Christian education we, of course, read and consume what would be considered the classics of ancient and modern literature. This is the part I love about being a part of a classical Christian school! Ever since discovering Charles Dickens in high school I’ve wanted to read good literature, not realizing Dickens (in my case, David Copperfield) was not just good but a classic. It’s thrilling to me that now my two kids will get to read not only the classics in fiction, but ancient classics of the early church like Augustine’s Confessions and ancient poetry like Beowulf

The lines above are from the introduction to the classic Christian allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. My daughter’s class, the Rhetoric class, which is grades 9-10, will be reading Pilgrim’s Progress in full this year, along with some of the parents through our Parent Book Club. There are quite a few parents of the school (like myself) who wish they would have been classically educated and the Parent Book Club is a way they can enter into that education alongside their kids!