The "What" of the Classical Method


What is the classical method of education? I explain things best in examples or analogies, so here it goes! (And I know this is very simplistic, but it makes the big picture, small.)

Let's say, you've decided to start couponing. You need to save some money and you've heard about how couponers leave the stores with $100's of dollars worth of foods for pennies. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Let's do this.

You clip some coupons and head to the store. You spend twice the time looking for the coupon items and realizing with each item, the coupon doesn't save you any money off the store brand. You don't save any money. What happened? Well, there's a method to couponing. You find a blog, called Southern Savers for us in the south, that teaches you how to coupon. Can you read this?

  • This is a great deal. Stock up! Pantene Shampoo, Conditioner or Styling Products, 4.9-12.6 oz, $3 WYB 2
    $3.25 WYB 1
    Manufacturer Coupon-$2 off Pantene styler or treatment, SS 3/15
    -Free $15 Prepaid Card WYB $50 worth of Covergirl, Pantene, Herbal Essences hair & body wash, Olay, Secret, Ivory, Aussie, Clairol, Safeguard, Olay Body Head & Shoulders or Vidal Sassoon color product REBATE
    Manufacturer Coupon-$1 off Pantene Expert Collection, excl trial size, PG 3/29
    Manufacturer Coupon-$5/3 Pantene products, must include shampoo and conditioner or styler, excl 6.7 oz and trial size, PG 3/29
    Manufacturer Coupon-$2 off Pantene styler or treatment item, excl trial size, PG 3/29
    Manufacturer Coupon-$1 off Pantene Shampoo or Conditioner PRINTABLE
    (buy (2), use (2) $2 off, makes it $1 ea.)
Oh dear. what is this language? WYB? SS? PG? This is going to take a bit more thinking and learning.

So you search the website. Thankfully, right there at the top of the blog there is a drop down that explains all the abbreviations and terms! So first thing, we need to do is memorize the language. Sure, you could skip this part, but if you do you'll be looking between the key and the posts for a long time. It'll be easier in the long run to memorize first.

After you've memorized the language of couponing, you need to understand what that language means and how to use it. So you read Southern Savers post about Learning to Coupon. And it teaches you how to use the language you've memorized; to read her posts and understand that if you can find the coupon in SS (Smart Source) 3/15 (from March 15) for $2 off Pantene, you can use it in conjunction with the Pantene sale at Bi-Lo to save some money.

Now comes the fruition of all that work. You read your flier, clip your coupons to match the sales, and head to the store. And your 100's of dollars is saved!

That is the classical method of education. First, we must memorize the language of our subjects, of life in general. It isn't necessary that the language is filled out, or studied, or understood at this point. You must just memorize that SS means Smart Source. What is Smart Source is for the understanding stage. All you need to do is memorize SS=Smart Source. Not too hard, right?

Secondly, we must understand what we have memorized. This is when we find out that the Smart Source is a coupon booklet that comes with the newspaper every week.

Thirdly, we use our language and understanding to use a coupon to save some money.

The classical method uses our natural means of learning. Memorizing is an art that is being lost, and because it is being lost, we are losing our language. Our means of communication. The classical method begins with language because it gives us the tools to communicate the understanding. If you only learned that SS is a coupon booklet in the newspaper every week, you still wouldn't know which booklet is SS. I know that we can get around the memorizing stage, by being clever, or having a dictionary by our sides at all times, but if we embrace the stage of memorization, we can have knowledge without being clever or having a constant helper.

These three stages of learning are called the Knowledge, Understanding, and the Wisdom. Knowledge is when we ask what. Understanding is when we ask why. And the Wisdom is the stage when we say how. The Wisdom stage is the stage that we use and do the things we've learned. And sometimes doing those things we've learned involves teaching others. If you really know something, you can do it, and you can teach it.  

Does that make sense? Next I'll talk about why we use this method.

For the rest of this series:
The How of the Classical Method

The Why of the Classical Method

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