What is a "Classical Education"?

At TASIS we sometimes describe our approach to academics as a "classical education." 

But what exactly does this mean?

First, the term is not a reference to Christianity or any other religion. TASIS schools are secular (non-denominational) schools. That said, our school ethos does include many of the tenets upon which spiritual practices are based: the teaching and modelling of ethical behavior, the development of a strong moral compass, and a timeless classical belief in the merits of truth, beauty, and goodness.

The term "classical" refers to our liberal arts approach to learning. We subscribe to a well-rounded educational foundation for our students and place importance not just on math and science, but equally on art and culture. We believe in the essential literary skills of reading and writing -- and also speaking and critical thinking, sometimes referred to as rhetoric and logic.

Girl writes on white board as teacher watches

Our violin and performing arts, coding and chess, and yoga and meditation programs are examples of our pursuit of knowledge, virtue, respect, self reflection, and joy. In other words, we appreciate the inherent beauty of civilization and appreciate the ways in which history can prepare us for the future. The study of great books, great historical figures, and great works of art enlightens the minds of young people. A school culture built on respect, decorum, kindness, and joy creates better human beings.

We believe that the best preparation for an uncertain future is this kind of classical education. That is, with the future of work so uncertain and the increasing role of technology in our society, we think building students' fundamental skills, strong literacy, and a sense of how we arrived where we are in the world will prepare them best to deal with the ambiguities of the future.

child playing chess

No one can predict what our world will be like in 20 years when today's youth are entering adulthood; however, we are confident that our strong approach to mathematics, embedded with coding and balanced with excellent language and critical thinking skills; our emphasis on the care of self through exercise and meditation; and a belief in the intrinsic value of a kind, empathetic disposition, will help our students be ready for whatever comes their way.

The future will need confident speakers, critical thinkers, compelling writers, global citizens and, importantly, courageous leaders. These are the future citizens of the world that TASIS Portugal is preparing, just like our founder aspired to do more than 60 years ago when she created the first American international school in Europe.


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