Classical Teaching in 5 Easy Steps

Classical Education uses two modes or ways to teach- Mimetic and Socratic. Mimetic is the method classical educators use as their main framework for lesson planning and teaching. Let’s walk through the steps to any Mimetic lesson.

5 Steps to Any Mimetic Lesson

  1. Preparation: prepare the students for learning
  2. Presentation: present types/examples/illustrations
  3. Comparison: compare the types or examples
  4. Expression: students tell back, either by written or spoken word
  5. Application: do and create

Let’s look closer.


The students already know most of what they need to know to learn the lesson. This is the time to remind them of that. As well, it will allow you to assess if the students are equipped to receive the lesson. For example- if the lesson is about adjectives, they need to know what a noun is and how it works. This is where you help them remember all that they already know about nouns. It is similar to a review but it is much more than that.

40% of your lesson time will be spent in this step, so about 15-16 mins of a 40 min lesson.


Place in front of the students 3-5 specific types/examples/illustration which embody the things you want to teach. They should be similar yet have distinctly different features. This is where the active teaching takes place by using direct instruction. Types lay the ground work for imitation so be sure they are quite specific.

25% of your lesson will be spent in this step, so about 9-10 mins of a 40 min lesson.


Guide the students through comparing the types/examples presented. What is the same? What is similar? What is different? Where have we seen this before? What, if any, steps or processes were used? If so, what did we do first, or what did we do in every problem? If the students are struggling to compare, go back to the Presentation Step and re-present the types. If the types were presented clear enough, light bulbs start to go off for the students. Connections start to be made. Use these and other questions to guide the students to make connections.

20% of your lesson will be spent in this step, so about 8-9 mins of a 40 min lesson.


Students recall and retell the main concept or idea they have just learnt. As educators, we are looking for their ability to describe or explain what they understand about the lesson. It is their opportunity to express truth in their own words. It can be either oral or written, even through drawing/illustration. If they are unable to express, go back to Step 3 and compare more clearly. This is a great place to incorporate Learning Journals.

5% of your lesson will be spent here, so about 2-3 mins of a 40 min lesson.


This step allows us to see if the students can really apply it, if they can really do it. It also allows the students the opportunity to make it their own. This is time to practice skill and create their own example or imitation of what they have just learnt. If possible, give them some time within the lesson to practice. This could be by way of a worksheet, an exercise or a template that includes creating their own example that parallels the work they are asked to complete. And then assign independent study similar to what they have just done with you during the lesson. Be sure the independent work contains the opportunity for them to create their own imitation or example.

10% of your lesson will be spent here, so 4-5 mins of a 40 min lesson, not including independent study.