Academic Program: Classical Education
Our school offers a classical approach which arranges education into three stages that roughly correspond with a student’s development. These phases are called the "trivium" which consist of the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages. The grammar stage is from grades K-4. Students learn not only English grammar but the "grammar", or fundamental knowledge and skills of all subjects. In grades 5-8, students enter the logic stage where they use reasoning to more deeply understand previous learning while acquiring additional knowledge. The final rhetoric stage occurs during the high school years. It focuses on utilizing knowledge and reason to express oneself and persuade others. Grammar, logic and rhetoric are emphasized at the appropriate stages, but are not the sole focus. Knowledge, reasoning, and self-expression play a part in all stages. Our school addresses the first two stages of the trivium. Since we do not yet have a high school, the rhetoric stage is not included.
In a classical education, history provides the foundation for the study of science and the humanities. During their tenure at our school, the scholars will take two chronological sweeps throughout history. The first occurs from grades 1 to 4, and the second from grades 5 to 8. The sequence for history is as follows: ancient times, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and modern times. Students study biology in the same grades that they study ancient history, since plants and animals were topics known to the ancients. Astronomy and earth science are investigated at the same time as the middle ages, since that era brought advances in astronomy. Chemistry is covered along with the Renaissance, which is when the great chemists appeared. Physics, a modern subject, is explored when students learn modern history. Art, music, and literature selections include works from the corresponding historical period. This approach brings a coherence to the curriculum not found in most other schools.
In addition to the usual hallmarks of a classical education, our school offers language instruction. Spanish is currently offered for all students. Latin and Greek are taught as a part of the standard language arts curriculum (prefixes, suffixes, roots, Greek joining forms), and as a separate course.
Research Trumps Philosophy
Our school avoids educational fads that are based on philosophical beliefs, adhering instead to approaches that are supported by mainstream research. In place of the "balanced literacy" approach that often neglects phonemic awareness and phonics, our school uses a research-based reading program that includes systematic and explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics that has been shown to reach the vast majority of children.
Our math program takes the same approach as some of the highest achieving nations in the world: focusing on a smaller number of topics that are taught to mastery, instead of a "mile wide, inch deep" approach that leaves students with weak skills. Our science program avoids the "inquiry-based" trend in education that over-emphasizes discovery learning. We take a more balanced approach that includes direct instruction, teacher demonstrations, reading books as well as experimentation. In contrast to the prevailing trend in education that derides acquiring substantive knowledge as "rote memorization", our school holds knowledge acquisition in a very high regard. We design instruction around "big ideas" that helps students to understand and organize factual knowledge into a meaningful framework. This framework is built upon year after year as the scholars advance through the classical stages and proceed with their second chronological sweep through history.
Student academic performance information is available here.