What is Classical Education?
Classical education is ancient but also innovative. We use the chronological study of history as a spine for our curriculum and organize our literature, science, music and art lessons around this framework. We use Socratic discussion, read Great Books and primary texts instead of textbooks, teach Latin and grammar, and believe character is as important as intellect.
The Classical curriculum is built on the foundation of the Trivium, a roadmap for instruction that guides students through the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric stages, taking advantage of the natural tendencies of each stage to engage and challenge each mind.
During the Grammar stage, or first through fourth grade, students are naturally inclined to learn, to observe, and to memorize, and they take great joy in it. These are years when children’s brains are optimized to take in information, so we focus on who, what, when and where. We spend these years exposing students to fascinating information and stories that engage and enthrall. The memorization of math facts, grammar rules, historical dates, scientific data, and poetry will be an integral part of the curriculum in the early grades, to form a solid foundation for the upper grades. But it won’t be heavy handed, boring drill! We use motion, songs and chants to make memory work fun.
We also spend lots of time doing hand-on projects to bring the curriculum to life, and we integrate history, science, literature, art and music into unit studies that draw students into their studies, making them come alive. This is the time to get our hands dirty, to dance, sing, draw and use all our senses to learn about the world. Our students will walk through the woods to learn observation techniques, taste foods from different cultures, and read fairy tales and fables that introduce them to heroes of every shape and size.
The Logic stage, fifth through eight grade, is also known as the pert or argumentative stage. Students at this level are naturally interested in challenging authority. This is the time to start asking why and how along with who, what, when and where. Why did Napoleon try to take over Europe? How did the Industrial Revolution change ordinary people’s lives? Why do we care, anyway?
Logic stage students continue to study integrated and chronological history, science, literature, art and music, progressing from the ancient, medieval and renaissance history they covered in the elementary grades to the revolutionary and modern eras. Socratic discussion is used to guide students to discover new ideas and answers in their lessons. Science and math become more abstract as students move into algebra, chemistry and physics. Latin and grammar continue, as does the study of art and music appreciation and execution.
From ninth through twelfth grade, students in the Rhetoric stage move from receiving and discussing information, to learning to defend their own ideas. The history cycle from ancients to the modern day is repeated, but this time students are taught how to develop a theses, research properly and present information to their teachers and peers. They learn to how to write and speak well.
Students can choose to continue with Latin or study a modern language. Science topics include biology, chemistry and physics as well as computer science. All high school students receive ACT preparatory classes, and higher level math including trigonometry and calculus are offered. All graduating seniors must complete a Senior Project – a year long, multi-disciplinary project that includes a written component, a multimedia project, and a presentation to faculty, students and parents.
For a more in-depth explanation of the Trivium and how we follow it we encourage you to read this essay by Susan Wise Bauer, author and educator: