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Distinctly Classical

Classical education distinguishes itself from other modern forms of education in terms of its aims, structure, and content. A classical education aims to form the whole person. It is, therefore, virtue oriented. Our desire is not only to train students for jobs, but to form them as flourishing neighbors and citizens. Additionally, classical education aims to integrate all subject matter. Rather than treating subjects in isolation, we want young people to create a meaningful view of the world as they discover how science, math, literature, and theology interrelate. 

 

Classical education broadly follows a structure called the Trivium. This structure of education has its roots in antiquity and for centuries has helped students become lifelong learners. The trivium guides students through three stages of learning: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These are not only subjects of instruction, but methods of instruction that align with a child's stage of development. 

 

The classical curriculum is largely in line with what has historically been known as a liberal arts and science education. The classical approach is a language-rich method of study that helps train students to recognize and love what is true, good, and beautiful. It is well-rounded in the study of science, math, chronological history, literature and poetry, English grammar, Latin, and the arts. 

 

The Trivium

Grammar Stage

The grammar stage (kindergarten through fifth grade) capitalizes on a child’s natural ability to memorize. Dorothy Sayers quips in the “The Lost Tools of Learning” that the grammar stage teaches students “how to handle the colors and the brush before setting them free to paint.” The grammar stage uses these innate memory skills to introduce students to great poetry and master mathematical facts and Scripture using tools like group recitation, songs, and chants. There is also an emphasis on introducing students to many well-crafted stories, exposing them to the full narrative of history, exploring different world cultures, and encouraging observation skills in science. Though the students will not always recognize the sophistication of the facts they are absorbing, they are laying a foundation of knowledge upon which they will build a structure of comprehensive learning over the next two stages of the trivium. 

 

Grammar Stage students will:

 

  • Recite math facts, history timeline, scientific information, and English grammar through chants, sound-offs, and song

  • Memorize poems, Latin vocabulary, hymns, phonograms, and Scripture

  • Cultivate observation skills and curiosity through hands-on projects and exploration of God’s creation in art and science

  • Begin to develop a taste for quality literature, music, and art

  • Master the core curriculum of reading, writing, and arithmetic

  • Train attention to detail via handwriting, spelling rules, math story problems, and careful listening

  • Be exposed to world history, languages, other cultures, a broad range of science topics, and many well-crafted stories

  • Digest language-rich content early on rather than relying on easier, image-based content in order to help train toward a love of reading

  • Establish a solid framework of knowledge

 

Logic Stage

The logic stage (sixth through eighth grade) recognizes the student’s developing inclination to argue at this age and nurtures the analytical component of the learning process. Students use information they gathered and memorized in their grammar years and start to look at it from different angles by comparing and contrasting ideas, and by digging more deeply into all realms of study. Across the spectrum of the curriculum, emphasis is placed on the questions why, how, and what is the result? Furthermore, the logic stage facilitates discussion across traditional subject lines, focuses on the formal study of logic, and directs the student to test ideas for truth. 

 

Logic Stage students will:

 

  • Learn the progression of research, hypotheses, experiments, and reporting results through the scientific method

  • Perceive the natural order and patterns in music, math, English grammar, writing, languages, and art

  • Study formal logic and debate

  • Compare and contrast information and ideas across traditional subject lines

  • Test/analyze information and ideas to see what is true by weighing the value of the evidence and thinking through the validity of the argument

  • Interact with original texts in order to understand the hows and whys of history, literature, and scientific discovery

  • Experiment with different art, mathematical, and writing techniques

  • Develop the capacity for abstract thought

  • Move from passively collecting information to actively interacting with knowledge

 

Rhetoric Stage

When the rhetoric stage begins (ninth through twelfth grade), the students have a solid foundation of knowledge and the ability to logically process their knowledge. They are now prepared to craft their own ideas and express them gracefully. The rhetoric stage students learn how to inform, persuade, delight, and move others through written work and oration. They explore areas that they enjoy at a deeper level and develop a stronger understanding of how they bear God’s image. The rhetoric student may reflect Christ in the ways they create order through working an elegant math derivation, help promote truth and goodness through a winsome essay, or reflect beauty in the design of their works of art.


Latin Study

Studying Latin is an excellent way for students to learn how to handle the tools of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In the grammar stage, students memorize vocabulary, verb and noun endings, and beautiful historic songs and prayers. Then they begin to fit vocabulary and grammar endings together to create words and sentences. This puzzle of how all the pieces of the Latin language fit together requires mental organization, the ability to see patterns, and a logical approach to study. Once the student has mastered the grammar and logic of Latin, the student can begin to read the original texts of Ovid and Cicero and join the Great Conversation at a deeper level.

 

The study of Latin is helpful as a tool for building a robust English vocabulary, as a basis for studying the modern romantic languages, and as a way of deepening the student’s understanding of the mechanics of English grammar. However, one of Latin’s greatest strengths is that it is, at its core, a logically organized language. By studying Latin, the student is trained to be detailed-oriented, disciplined in study, and ultimately more organized as a scholar.