Why a Classical Education?

    Posted on Friday, July 8, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Posted by Mike McPartlin on Jul 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

    A Classical Education is Simply Better

    by Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy


    How did a Classical Education come about?

    What we today call a Classical Education began in ancient Greece and was later adopted by the Romans. It faltered after the fall of the Roman Empire but then experienced a rebirth during the Middle Ages. It was brought to “perfection” during the Italian Renaissance.

    It was thereafter adopted in England, and passed to America during colonial times.

    Bridgedale Academy Classical CurriculumWhat is a Classical Education?

    It is not an exaggeration to suggest that a Classical Education is the cornerstone of western civilization. (Learn more by visiting Susan Wise Bauer's website.)

    The reason we can say this has to do with what a classical education is, and what it ultimately stands for. One prominent commentator points out that, at its essence, a Classical Education has four (4) core tenets that “define” it:

    1) It is a system of education that values knowledge for its own sake;

    2) It upholds the standards of correctness, logic, beauty, weightiness and truth, all intrinsic to the liberal arts;

    3) It demands moral virtue of its adherents/followers; and

    4) It prepares human beings to assume their place as responsible citizens in the political order.

    Bridgedale Academy Classical Curriculum

    How does a Classical Education differ from today’s education system?

    It is certainly arguable that today’s progressive education system rejects each of the core tenets that are at the foundation of a Classical Education.

    Knowledge for its own sake

    Humans are naturally curious, with an innate longing to learn about things and to know the good, the beautiful and the true. 

    Bridgedale Academy Classical Curriculum

    Children especially embody these qualities and have untapped learning capabilities at their disposal that they instinctively want to develop.

    But as with physical development, intellectual development needs to be guided.

    And so unlike today’s “progressive” education system, a Classical Education does NOT leave children to their own mental urges or inclinations.

    Rather it seeks to feed, direct and strengthen a child’s mental capabilities.

    "In this sense a Classical Education works much in the same way that rigorous sports training aids in a child’s physical development."


    A Classical Education puts children’s mind to work, guiding them to develop their learning capabilities, and leading them to understand themselves and the world around them. 

    High standards of literacy

    A Classical Education teaches students high standards of grammar, precision in word choice, and an eloquence based in a love for language. Language of course is the very thing that distinguishes humans - it is the very source of the human intellect. 

    Bridgedale Academy Classical CurriculumAnd so a Classical Education focuses on a study of the greatest writers, speakers and thinkers in history, teaching a cultural literacy and a love for the beauty of language.

    What today’s modern education system regards as acceptable literacy is, frankly, a disgrace.

    Education is at its root a “moral” enterprise

    The idea that education should be first and foremost a moral enterprise has fallen into disfavor in today’s education system, which either ignores or actively debases this notion.

    But students who receive a Classical Education are confronted with the great lessons that are found in an honest telling of history and in western civilization’s greatest literature. 

    And whereas a progressive education might present things from a perspective of moral equivalence, a Classical Education presents stories with real heroes and heroines, stories in which actions have consequences and where there is a clearcut difference between right and wrong, between good and evil.

    Bridgedale Academy Classical Curriculum


    Responsible citizens in the political order

    A Classical Education is concerned with how humans fit into society, specifically into their community. And because it has a moral foundation, it teaches not only about how actions have consequences, but also about how with each freedom comes a corresponding responsibility.

    A Classical Education seeks to foster independent thinkers, people not only who have a sense of community but also who think for themselves.

    Political wisdom does not come easy. But people who can think for themselves are far less likely to be duped or otherwise become pawns to the politically ambitious.


    A Classical Education provides the cultural, moral and civic foundations that guide young people toward productive and happy lives. It feeds an innate love of learning that animates young people especially, at the same time inspiring them with timeless life lessons.

    As such it stands in stark contrast to the types of conformist, one-size-fits-all, top-down education systems that predominate in our nation today.

    Learn more at:

    Read "The Lost Tools of Learning," an Essay by Dorothy Sayers


    "At Bridgedale we are committed to the development of our young student-athletes, helping them to develop their physical and mental skills so they can perform at their best when it matters most, no matter the arena of life that challenges them. If you would like to learn more about Bridgedale Academy, please click the button below so we can schedule a time to chat."
                                                                                                               Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy



    And what do Bridgedale teachers say about Bridgedale?

    "This is such a special place!! It is life changing for these boys as it centers around strong relationships that encourage strong academic growth. It’s a hockey school, but so much more than that. 

    "It’s a pleasure to come to work everyday. Thank you for creating such a positive, caring environment."

    Kristi Florey, Bridgedale Math Teacher


    Attention 4th Graders

    Bridgedale Academy is accepting a limited number of 4th graders for the 2023-24 school year, on a case-by-case basis. Please call me at 708-712-5079 to inquire. 

    Mike McPartlin, Headmaster

    Bridgedale Academy School for Athletes

    Bridgedale students LOVE going to school,

    and so they THRIVE in it.

    They LOVE coming to school every day.

    And as a result, they are thriving.

    They engage academically ...

    ... and so they come to love learning.

    They also love that they get to work on the sport they have such passion for, while also training to become better athletes, all as part of their school day.

    They train athletically ...

    ... and so they more fully develop their skills.

    They LOVE getting so much better ... so much sooner.

    They are physically fit and mentally alert ... they are thriving.



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    Wayne Gretzky


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    Bridgedale is now enrolling students for the 2023-24 School Year. 

    Bridgedale Academy is an all-boys school for athletes, a prep school for serious youth hockey players. We offer the 4th through 8th grades. In addition to our winning combination of sports and academics, we focus on leadership training. We use a classical academic curriculum and our graduates go on to attend some of the most prestigious high schools in the midwest, including Lake Forest Academy, Culver Military Academy, Shattuck St. Mary’s, Northwood School, Benet Academy, Fenwick Prep, Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius Prep, Marmion Academy, St. Viator, Latin School and Providence Catholic. We pride ourselves on being the top youth hockey prep school in the nation. Our grads go on to top colleges and universities, including Notre Dame, Harvard, Denver, Ohio State, Bentley, Western Michigan, Miami (OH), Boston College, Tufts, Nebraska (Omaha), Hobart, Adrian, MSOE and more.  More than thirty (30) of our graduates have already received their NCAA Division 1 college hockey commitments. Seven (7) of our grads have gone on to compete for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). A number of our grads have been NHL-drafted (one made his NHL debut this past season). Our grads play at all levels of college hockey and many are now playing junior hockey in the USHL, the NAHL and the OHL.


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