Be Inspired and Energized

A one-year program, the CiRCE Atrium program explores the foundations of Christian classical education with online classes and discussions. Participants choose to focus on classical pedagogy with Peter Vande Brake, classical rhetoric with Andrew Kern, or the Greek age with Brian Phillips.

Through exclusive live webinars (two to three each month) and an online discussion forum, the Atrium offers a forum for contemplation and collaboration: a place to linger (and take pleasure) in the depths of the Christian classical tradition alongside like minded fellow educators. We provide the digital platform; you bring the desire for wisdom and virtue. Together we make the community.  

Participants can expect to grow in knowledge of classical education throughout the year, be inspired and energized by peer discussion and collaboration, and understand the fundamentals of classical education and its two primary modes of instruction (Mimetic and Socratic).

* The Atrium works in partnership with the CiRCE Apprenticeship Program and thus is especially well-suited for those who are preparing to enter the Apprenticeship. Participants who complete one year in the Atrium are eligible to receive a $250 credit toward Apprenticeship tuition.

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Deepen Your Understanding of Classical Education

Contemplate the essential elements and crucial truths at the heart of Christian classical education by joining one of our three groups.

Read about Brian's Class

Cicero said, “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

To many people, “history” conjures thoughts of seemingly irrelevant and disconnected facts, dates, and dead people. The study of history, however, is so much more. It orients us in place and time, enables us to understand the movement of ideas, provides models of evil to shun and virtue to emulate. Knowing history allows us to become better readers, as we comprehend not just ideas themselves, but the world into which they were born. Understanding history can even protect us from the errors of our own day, because, as King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” In other words, studying history can help us grow in wisdom and virtue.

The Greek Age will focus on the Greeks and their world. In this course, we will explore…

  • The development of Greece
  • Their crises, successes, and wars
  • The great Greek writers and thinkers in their historical context - from Homer to Aeschylus, Aristophanes to Plato, and more
  • The powerful rulers of Greece, from Agamemnon and Leonidas, to Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great
  • The influence of the Greeks on government, religion, philosophy, literature, and Western Civilization as a whole
  • And more!

Teaching history is one of the great joys of my life, and I hope you will join me as we delve into one of the greatest civilizations in history.

Read About Andrew's Class

Atrium host and discussion leader Andrew Kern claims that rhetoric understood in a Christian way is distinctly human, that it carries a uniquely Christian responsibility, and even that it is the key to the simplicity of the classical curriculum. He claims that the loss of rhetoric relates to our shrinking understanding of who Christ is, which causes a diminished understanding of how learning and life relate to Him. He also argues that you are already always engaged in acts of rhetoric, so it is only a question of how well you are using it. 

In this Atrium class we will explore what rhetoric is, the unique relationship of rhetoric to Chrisitianity, and how Christendom has suffered from its neglect. Indeed, we will discuss why any community (from a family to a school to a nation-state) suffers when it neglects rhetoric.  

We will consider why rhetoric is numbered among the liberal arts, why we would not need any self-help books if we just mastered the seven liberal arts, and why rhetoric is the art that governs the other six. 

Using The Lost Tools of Writing, Levels One through Three, and Homer’s Iliad, the greatest and most practical book ever written on rhetoric, we will learn some of the many ways we all already use rhetoric and how we can use it better to honor both God and our neighbors.  

Some things we’ll discuss include, 

  • The Two Rhetorics: Divine and diabolical

  • The universality of rhetoric: ways we use rhetoric - and always will

  • The simplicity of rhetoric: How it orders thought and simplifies the curriculum

  • The logo-centricity of rhetoric: How it makes manifest the glory of Christ the Logos

  • How a diminished Christ leads to a shrunken rhetoric 

  • The relationship of rhetoric to academics 

  • The infinitely more important relationship of rhetoric to life 

  • How our liberties depend on rhetoric 

  • How rhetoric helps us perceive truth

  • How rhetoric helps us build harmony in our communities

  • The unique importance of rhetoric to people who grow up in socially disadvantaged situations

  • How The Lost Tools of Writing trains students in rhetoric by beginning with the simplest elements in level one and then telescoping them through levels two and three in order to refine the writer/rhetorician’s mastery of each skill

  • Rhetoric as a spiritual discipline

Rhetoric, Andrew Kern argues, is not “the art of persuasion,” though it is bound up with decision making. Indeed, we humans are all always making decisions; it is our nature to do so. It follows that it is from our nature as humans and our place in the world that the tools of rhetoric arise. And that is why rhetoric is so important, because, Kern argues, rhetoric is the art of decision making in community and its purpose is threefold: to establish and maintain harmony in the community, to set the members of the community free, and to enable them to perceive truth.

Do you share this dream for language? Do you find these ideas far-fetched? Come in and join the conversation! Learn why Kern contends that rhetoric is the one art to rule them all.

Read about Peter's Class

A note from Peter Vande Brake

Explore one of the best books written on classical education! As we participate in an intensive study of Norms and Nobility, we will examine the most important elements of classical education. According to David Hicks classical education is not primarily concerned with a particular time or place, but stands instead for “a spirit of inquiry and a form of instruction concerned with the development of style through language and of conscience through myth. The key word here is inquiry. Everything springs from the special nature of the inquiry” (p.18). It is with this spirit of inquiry that we will seek to understand the nuances of classical education laid out in this great work. Throughout the year we will continually revisit these prominent elements in this book: 

  • Normative vs. Analytical Questions
  • Prescriptive vs. Descriptive nature of education
  • The intensely relational nature of classical education
  • Dialectical teaching
  • Christian Paideia

I love talking about this book! There is nothing better that has been written about classical education. I can’t wait for the discussions we will have together.