How a Well-Rounded Education Builds Confidence and Instills Character
Born of the Renaissance, a classical education is designed to grow the whole child. Susan Glazier, assistant head of school at Westminster School in Northern Virginia, explains:
“A classical education develops the entire humanity of a child. We are challenging and nurturing children—intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively. It isn’t just about books and computers, what they know, and what they can achieve on a test. It’s about the kind of people they are becoming and who they will be when they grow up.”
The true benefits of a classical education are witnessed over time, including the realized success of a child embracing adulthood with confidence and a strong career ahead. Even beyond that end goal, here are five main benefits of a classical education.
(To learn more about how Westminster approaches this concept, explore the details of our classical curriculum here.)
1. Provides a Complete, Well-Rounded Education
The Renaissance period is noted for its revival of art and literature. During this era, men and women embraced the left and right brain, science, math, history, and writing, as well as the expression of what it meant to live and to experience the wholeness of being human. This was done through art, drama, song, and literature. During this time, Shakespeare became one of the world’s most legendary and influential playwrights.
A Renaissance man is defined as a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. This is a person who embraces it all. A classical education helps students achieve this status. A classical education teaches many subjects but always with a focus on a complete understanding of humanity and the physical world. With increased autonomy and agility, a private school is uniquely positioned to implement and to embody the ideals of a classical education curriculum.
2. Teaches Strategic Thinking and Problem Solving
Knowledge is power. Nearly everyone has heard this before. True power, however, is in how one uses that knowledge to strategize and to solve problems. Learning about a subject should be more than answering questions on a test or completing a work sheet. A teacher’s role is to guide students to use their knowledge, reasoning, and strategic thinking to solve problems independently, and that’s the exact aim of a classical education.
3. Nurtures an Appreciation for the Arts
The arts are a significant part of our private school curriculum. Classes include music, art, drama, public speaking, and dancing. (Students even learn the jitterbug!) The arts are where students learn to interact with the physical world and to express themselves.
Many former students come back from college and share with us the confidence they have when interacting with their peers and speaking in front of others, and they attribute that to our emphasis on and exposure to the arts.
4. Builds Individual Character and Confidence
Westminster wholly believes in the values that build strong character and integrity. Community service is one way students actively pursue this. Over the years, it’s been incredible to watch students progress in their careers and continue to serve and to give back. Westminster alumna Mealy Cronin, for example, worked to raise money to support healthcare workers during the pandemic.
5. Celebrates Diversity
Westminster School is proud to be one of the most diverse private schools in the region. Students from all over the world attend our private school in quiet Annandale in Northern Virginia. Westminster students grow up understanding and appreciating the different cultures around them.
“It is one of the core values of Westminster for our children to be well educated—to know how to think, to be hard workers, to have good characters, to take joy in their community, to get along with different kinds of people, to tolerate and to respect the differences of people, and to see it as something that enriches us,” said Glazier.
The benefits and effects of a classical education are long lasting, and embracing this kind of approach to education is more important than ever. Recently, the Washington Post reported there is an increasing number of failing grades in Fairfax County public schools. Most attribute this to the limitations of virtual learning and the numerous challenges both educators and parents face. Whatever the reason, though, the result remains the same: children are the ones losing.
Today, parents are forced to ask hard questions to ensure their children still get the best education, and for an increasing number of people, the answer is a classical approach to learning.
Westminster School offers a private education for preschool through eighth-grade students. We are dedicated to your child’s future and safety. (Learn what we are doing to stay healthy during the pandemic here.) Attend a virtual open house and schedule to speak with our admissions director today. We look forward to answering your questions, addressing your concerns, and sharing the heart of our mission with you!