Choosing an educational model is a weighty decision, and the ever-increasing options can become overwhelming. From brick-and-mortar schools and hybrid models to homeschooling, endless avenues promise to give your child the best education.

However, not all educational models are equal, nor do they share the same goals or produce the same results.

Despite the perceived incongruity of an ancient educational model thriving in the 21st century, the classical Christian model has experienced a resurgence in the past 50 years. Its time-tested goals, curriculum, and instructional methods have guided students for two millennia and continue to provide a robust educational experience for students today.

To explore the hallmarks of a classical Christian education and why it’s remained relevant, it’s important first to examine the goals of any education and how education shapes students.

The Central Goal of Education: What are students trained to love?

All education instills values in students, giving them a framework to interpret the world around them. Curriculum and methodology choices both influence what a student is trained to value and even love.

The critical question to consider when assessing any educational model, then, is what are students being trained to love—and to what end?

For a non-classical Christian school, the answer to this question can vary widely and change as cultural values shift. The U.S. Department of Education defines its mission as promoting “student achievement” and “global competitiveness.” How schools interpret that mission and choose to implement it through their curriculum and state standards can lead to vastly different educational experiences and outcomes.

College preparation is a common end goal for many schools. For some, education might be even simpler than that: a box for students to check on the way to the next phase of life.

In contrast, the classical Christian model is guided by the unchanging truths of Scripture. In Greco-Roman society, beauty, goodness and truth were considered cosmic values that led to order and flourishing. As these cultures converted to Christianity, their values were not abandoned but embraced on a deeper level as attributes of God: He is beauty, He is goodness, He is truth. Apart from knowing God, we cannot truly experience any of these values.

We want to train students to love what is beautiful, good and true—absolutes rooted in the triune God of Scripture.

As educators, when we only focus on test scores and the immediacy of college or vocational training, we miss invaluable opportunities to help students learn to think wisely from a biblical worldview, cultivate virtue and become winsome communicators.

Yet, it is important to remember that, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, these worthy pursuits are fruitless. The end goal of a classical Christian education is not simply to produce well-rounded students versed in the Great Conversation taking place between scholars, writers, philosophers and theologians across time.

As Christian educators, we want to consistently point students to the truth of Scripture—not as an afterthought, but as the essential foundation upon which everything else we learn is built. We must model a different approach to learning where students are encouraged to place their identity in Christ, not grades or the accumulation of knowledge, lest we become puffed up, as 1 Corinthians 8 warns.

Above all, we want to raise up men and women who live fruitful lives in the service of the Kingdom of Christ. To do this, we cannot rely on our strength but abide in God’s love as we encourage our students to do the same.

Curriculum: What are students learning?

A classical Christian approach to curriculum is much more than including a Bible class in our course catalog or inserting Bible verses into lessons. All of our master teachers anchor their teaching to Scripture, allowing the truth of the Gospel to inform how we learn and not the other way around.

Ephesians 6 instructs fathers to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The Greek work used in this verse is paideia, which has no direct English translation. It is often interpreted as a worldview but the concept has a much richer, wider-reaching meaning.

The Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) offers a helpful definition to understand the full implications of paideia:

 At its core, paideia motivates our decisions and behavior through our affections. Because it influences each person in a culture, paideia forms a culture. How do we think? How do we vote? Do we marry? Do we have large families? Small families? Do we do productive things? Start a revolution? A million actions lie on the surface. Layers of influence and supposition lie under each decision. Paideia lies at the deepest level. It is the blueprint of thought, affections, and narrative through which every one of us views every thing. Because it is the building block of culture, it determines the future of a people.


The curriculum we use to teach students can profoundly influence the way they live their lives now and in the future—even impacting generations to come.

A fundamental element of the classical Christian model is the Trivium, an approach dating back to the Middle Ages that emphasizes the arts of language, reasoning and expression. In Dorothy Sayers’ famous essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” she proposes pairing each stage of the Trivium with a stage of development.

Taken together, the concepts of paideia and Trivium inform how we thoughtfully sequence our curriculum to ensure students are reaching age-appropriate milestones:

  • Grammar School: Grades 4–6

    • In grades 4 through 6, students focus on learning essential tools to establish a strong, rich foundation for the rest of their education.
  • School of Logic: Grades 7–8

    • Grades 7 and 8 equip students with tools to become logical thinkers.
  • School of Rhetoric: Grades 9–12

    • In grades 9 through 12, students combine their grammar and logic skills to become skilled, persuasive speakers.

Some of the core elements of our curriculum across grades include:

  • Integration of all subjects with Scripture at the center
  • Emphasis on the tools of learning
  • Thoughtful sequencing
  • Master teachers who love God, love their students and love their subjects
  • Excellent and time-tested content
  • Cultivation of wonder, inquiry and a love of learning
  • Training in scholarly habits: observation, imitation, recitation, analysis, virtue
  • Socratic discussion
  • Persuasive speaking and writing

Methodology: How do students learn?

With a growing national emphasis on standardized testing, educators are often forced to “teach to the test” instead of helping their students truly master a subject. This informs how time is spent in the classroom, which can leave less room for curiosity, creativity, reasoning and discovery.

At Wilson Hill, all of our courses are designed to equip students with tools of learning that they can apply beyond the boundaries of any individual classroom.

True education is more about considering questions than memorizing answers, so while the content in each course is important, students should expect to learn how to grapple with that content, not just remember it until test time.

A hallmark of the classical model, Socratic discussion is a fundamental tool for helping students learn how to think, not just what to think. Unlike other educational models, Socratic discussion encourages students to consider the logic of their arguments when answering a question or respectfully countering a peer’s assertion.

Our small class sizes provide a learning environment where students are encouraged to ask questions and actively participate in class conversations.

What is the end result of a classical Christian education?

Education is formation. Just as the goal of education guides curriculum and methodology, the outcome reflects a model’s merits. While we want our children to succeed academically, more fundamentally, we want to consider who they are becoming and how their education is molding them. 

The classical Christian model calls students to excellence, not from an expectation of perfection but to pursue an abiding love of learning and a deeper love of God. We believe students richly benefit from an education that gives them a greater understanding and appreciation of how God has worked and continues to work for good in men and His creation throughout time. 

As students nurture a growing understanding of His call on their own lives, they develop an excitement to pursue that calling to glorify Him. According to studies by the ACCS, students who attend classical Christian schools are more likely than their peers at non-classical Christian schools to read their Bible, attend church and pray regularly. 

The blessing of a classical Christian education is in its ability to transform students in the present and impact generations to come, instilling habits and forming disciplines that will last a lifetime. Regardless of what students pursue beyond Wilson Hill, they graduate equipped to face the challenges of the third millennium armed with the wisdom of the previous two.