Perhaps the best way to answer this question in brief is by offering a contrast of the proven classical approach with the vagarious modern educational fads of the last fifty to one hundred years. On the whole, the latter is characterized by a transmission of cold factual knowledge, “encyclopedic knowledge,” resting upon the authority of an instructor and ultimately dependant upon others’ empirical investigation. While factual knowledge is not to be neglected, it is on its own insufficient and requires something additional to animate it. A classical education offers precisely this, as it is sensitive to the unique gift of God that is the reasoning capacity of the human person. Through a formation founded upon the liberal arts the student is guided to the proper use of this precious faculty. The classical approach can be said to impart not only knowledge but the “way” of knowledge which is dialectical. Its goal is to make a student authentically wise with a desire for and sensitivity to truth.
Differing and seemingly ceaseless ‘theories of education’ ultimately imply that the human person is different than he once was or is in a constant state of change. The Classical approach recognizes that since his creation the truth of the human person is essentially unchanged and consequently so too are the goals and means to his real education.
Thus, a classical education is always and everywhere pertinent to any endeavor the student might undertake. Its efficacy is testified to not only by its normative use by the Church for more than a millennia but by the simple fact that it was the education of all the truly great names of the past from Socrates and Aristotle to Sts. Albert Magnus and Thomas Aquinas and on to Ronald Knox and C.S. Lewis. It is the educational key to forming virtuous men and women and rebuilding a disintegrated culture.