Continuing Classical Education I: “What Is A Classical Education?”

In our first of what will be an ongoing segment exploring Classical Education, we will turn to some of the background history of Aquinas Learning, explore how its history connects to the CiRCE Institute, and learn of some helpful tools to better understand classical education.

CiRCE (Center for Independent Research on Classical Education) helped Rosario Reilly, Aquinas Learning founder, to identify the unique ancient principles of learning, how to communicate them, and to apply them to Aquinas Learning’s unique educational setting.

Rosario attended her first CiRCE Institute Summer Conference in North Carolina in 2009 in her search for a classical school model. At first, she was frustrated because they did not offer step-by-step solutions on how to run a classical school, or easily define what a “classical” education truly was. Rosario came for answers, but, in her words, “only got to contemplate ideas.”

However, by the third and last day, Rosario found that the CiRCE conference process, and her accompanying “contemplations,” led her to think more deeply, below the surface, which allowed her to answer some of her original questions. She credits CiRCE for teaching her how to “truly think on things.” For Rosario, this was in stark contrast to the way she was educated all throughout her life, including through her Masters of Education, where she was taught what to think and how to study for tests. There were some exceptional teachers along the way that did not ascribe to the methodology of the day; they engaged her and made her wonder. Rosario realizes now that they were using, whether purposefully or not, a more “classical” approach to education.

One can say that Aquinas Learning, in many ways, is a re-presentation of the lessons learned at the CiRCE Institute conferences. These wonderful speakers are Rosario’s teachers (and some, her mentors): Andrew Kern, Andrew Pudewa, Martin Cothran, Christopher Perrin, Peter Kreeft, Gregory Wolfe, James Hodges, Laura Berquist, Glen Arbery, David Hicks, James Taylor, and so many more over the last nine years. Next summer, 2018, will mark her 10th year anniversary attending the CiRCE summer conference (Charleston, SC) and the 10th anniversary of the founding of Aquinas Learning.

Explore more about the nature of Classical Education on the useful CiRCE information page examining “what is a classical education?” CiRCE also offers many inspirational podcasts and reading resources as well.


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