Classical Education + Latin & Spanish
Our school will offer a classical education, which organizes education into three stages that roughly correspond with students’ development. These stages are called the "trivium", and consist of the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages. The grammar stage is from grades K-4. Students learn not just 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, as well as acquire more knowledge. The final stage, which occurs during the high school years, is called the rhetoric stage, and focuses on marshalling knowledge and reason to persuade others and express youself. The emphasis at each stage is an emphasis, not a sole focus. Knowledge, reasoning, and self-expression are part of each stage. Our school addresses the first two stages of the trivium.
In a classical education, history provides the organizing structure for the study of science and the humanities. Students take two chronological sweeps through history‑from first through fourth grade and again from fifth through eighth grade. The sequence for history is: ancient, middle ages, Renaissance, and modern times. Students study biology in the same grade they study ancient history, since plants and animals were topics known to the ancients. Astronomy and earth science are studied at the same time as the middle ages, since that era brought advances in astronomy. Chemistry is studied along with the Renaissance, when the great chemists appeared. Physics, a modern subject, is studied 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 plans to offer Spanish instruction. Latin and Greek are taught as a part of the regular language arts curriculum (prefixes, suffixes, roots, and Greek joining forms), and as a separate course in grades 4-6.
Research Trumps Philosophy
Our school will avoid harmful education fads that are based on strongly held philosophical beliefs, sticking to approaches supported by mainstream research. Instead of the "balanced literacy" approach that often neglects phonemic awareness and phonics, our school will use a research-based reading program that includes systematic and explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics that has been shown to reach nearly all children.
Our math program will take the same approach as the highest achieving nations in the world: focus 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 will avoid the "inquiry-based" trend in education that over-emphasizes discovery learning, and will take a balanced approach that includes direct instruction, teacher demonstrations, reading books, and experimentation. In contrast to the prevailing trend in education that derides acquiring substantive knowledge as "rote memorization" or "mere facts", our school holds knowledge acquisition in high regard, and designs instruction around "big ideas" that research suggests helps students understand and organize factual knowledge in a meaningful framework.