Classical Approach in Education

Classical Approach is based on the 5th-century medieval educational philosophy when a number of subjects were regarded as essential for human maturity and to become a potent member of society.

Only the ruling and the elite or liberal (free) class was entitled to these subjects. The masses were to acquire skills in order to sustain a livelihood.

These subjects for the above-mentioned classes were divided into Trivium and Quadrivium.


  • Grammar
  • Logic
  • Rhetoric


  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Music
  • Astronomy/ Astrology

The classical approach has been considered as part of the descriptive approach because the learning process started with indigenous knowledge and experiences or transference of skills from one generation to another takes place in a localized manner.

The knowledge was not prescribed and was open and depended upon the experience and observation of the teacher. In the classical approach, it was not mandatory for the student to follow the teacher’s point of view.

The teacher’s way was not considered as the only way. That provides us with the reason why Aristotle was a realist and his teacher Plato was an idealist.

This approach demands the student to observe and memorize the exact details of the contents. The contents memorized used to become the logical data for the next phase.

For instance, in lower classes, memorization of mathematical tables was very important and that remained to be a pre-requisite for the student to excel in the subject.

Even today the algebraic formulae are important to be learned by heart for their application in problem-solving.

In Grammar first, the rules were to be memorized and then names of things in the surroundings.

In geography, the names and locations of nations and their references were learned by heart.

In the dialectic stage, the individual was taught to reason, explore, and justify the findings. Last, rhetoric was the delivery of knowledge to others.

Advantages of the Classical Approach

The advantage of the classical approach is that it centralizes the learning in the classroom and the teacher is experienced, knowledgeable, and logical. Students are there to question their observation of nature and society.

The teacher provides them with the relevant answers and the student’s note for future guidance.

The problems, observations, and questions are contemporary and so are their solutions.

The learning is open and students and teachers are not bound by any strict curriculum. This approach could be ideal for the tertiary level of education.

Disadvantages of the Classical Approach

In modern times it is very hard to find a teacher so much equipped with the knowledge to answer all the questions especially at the primary level of education, where the students had not confronted with enough experience and observations.

Therefore, till a secondary level of education classical approach is restricted to the trivium level.

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