What is a Christian classical school? Fair question. And one which I hope to answer.
First I will address the idea of a Christian school. Most people think they know what being a Christian school entails: uniforms, standards and a Bible class. Yet that is little more than your average private school with some denominational orientation thrown in. A truly Christian school seeks to remember that the "chief end of man is to glorify God. . . ." A truly Christian school remembers that the very act of living is in praise of Him and thus every act of living should be surrounded by Him. And a truly Christian school gives students the opportunity to discover the answers to the "negotiable" questions on their own. Thus, a Christian school should teach every subject from a biblical perspective--teaching in the light that the all-powerful, sovereign God controls every aspect of life and infuses every discipline of man--rather than simply tacking on a chapel or a Bible class. However, a truly Christian school should not fall to the temptation to institute a box for thinking. Students should and must be taught the basics of the faith--and the reasons why they are true. But beyond the basics, students should be allowed to discuss the sides, to turn to their parents for answers, and to come to the conviction they see best. For without training the students to reasonably examine and determine their own position on "negotiable" issues--students are left with a set of "beliefs," but no idea why they are true, or why they should believe them. A truly Christian school should not discourage questioning, it should equip the students with the tools and scriptures to answer the questions.
Now, to the harder task: answering the question, "what is a classical school?" I will warn you that you will have to think outside of "traditional" educational methodology for a few minutes. For about a hundred years, schools have been structured according to the idea that students should be given a set of "subjects" to master by the time they graduate. For example, History. We take a student and teach them over the period of 12 or 13 years a large number of chronological facts that are mainly divorced from every other area of study. These facts we expect them to absorb and spit back out for tests, etc., and then we turn said students out into the world with a vague idea that the world has some historical facts and events. But they never learn more than that. The idea behind what is termed "classical" education goes beyond the mere mastery of subject matter. The idea is to teach children the methods of learning so that they can master any subject they find to be interesting. We'll get back to history in a minute. The basic structure of a classical education follows the Trivium: grammar, logic (dialectic), and rhetoric. Grammar is the study of the parts of language. Every discipline has its own "grammar." History has facts, dates, events; Math, numbers and processes; English, parts of speech and syntax; Science, elements and definitions. In the grammar stage, students learn these tools--the elements and order of the languages. They learn to take apart a "subject" to examine and learn its basic parts. Logic is the study of using and applying those parts of the language. By experimentation and application they understand how the parts work together. Rhetoric is the study of expression. Now that students have learned the elements of a language and how those elements are used and applied, they can learn to express their own thoughts and ideas in that language. These steps helpfully mirror the intellectual development of students (a discussion I will leave to wiser minds, like Sayers). So, back to history. How is history different? Classical students learn facts and events, also, yet not nearly as many. The emphasis is on learning the watershed points. They learn to place these facts and events in their historical context, through literature, and they also learn to apply the lessons learned. In the Grammar stage, facts are learned. By the logic stage, students are learning the connection that historical events have with literature and philosophy. Because the emphasis is on mastery of a process that is the same in all disciplines, students are able to learn connections. A caveaTITLE: the average classical student in middle school will have less individual subject knowledge that the average traditional student. The difference is that the classical student has learned a methodology that will enable him to master any subject he desire to study, whereas the traditional student has only learned the content knowledge. Classical students learn the tools they have to work with, how the tools work and how to apply them to their personal expression.
Wow. I don't know if that makes a great deal of sense. I hope so. It is only a brief overview of Christian classical education. I will leave you with a link to an excellent speech/essay by Dorothy Sayers. She explains things much better than I do. So for a deeper look, please read "The Lost Tools of Learning."