Our classical school teaches classical Christian values.
The term “classical” as it applies to schools has become convoluted by the advent of the “classical public school.” What they mean in the public-school setting is a school that teaches Latin, has a “traditional classroom” setting, has very limited sports, and teaches some form of ethics. The Classical Christian School movement is more robust and embraces a different ethos. Our classical school does teach Latin, does have the traditional classroom, and does teach Christian ethics, but there are many more differences.
The structure of our classical curriculum has a strong emphasis on the “basics” (e.g., mathematics, language arts, and history) and uses the Trivium to form the framework for how and when we teach subjects. The Trivium was designed to follow the natural developmental stages of a child to adulthood. It consists of the three distinct phases of mental maturity: Grammar (roughly 2nd to 5th grade), Logic (6th to 8th grade), and Rhetoric (9th to 12th). The Medieval society did not start formal education until 6 years of age, so the Classical Christian movement has added the Phonics phase that includes children from 4 to 6 years old.
The Classical Trivium required that subjects be taught in a certain way based on the age of the child. For example, when teaching Kindergarten, singing, chanting, and a lot of body movements are used to teach the lesson. Try using that method with a 10-year-old! Learning to read is essential and must be mastered before entering the grammar phase. In the grammar phase, we emphasize the fundamental rules and language of each subject discipline. For example, in English, a student at our classical school not only learns what a preposition is but also that a sentence should not end with a preposition.
History and science are taught throughout the school, but they take on true significance in the logic phase. While students in the grammar phase spend time learning the different vocabulary and particulars of each discipline, logic refers to the ordered placement and relationship between the particulars. One way to understand the difference is that the phonics phase lays the foundation, and the grammar phase provides the materials to start building a house. By the end of the grammar phase, a student has a lot of materials to build with, but little is connected. In the logic phase, we start putting boards together and constructing the frame and walls in the house. For example, students gain an understanding that the vengeful intent of the Treaty of Versailles led to Hitler’s rise to power. In math, students learn that all the properties used in algebra have their origins in logic. In literature, they discover how to look beyond the particulars of a story to the author’s point. For example, In a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens is making a point about duality of people and the dangers of a revolution.
The final stage is called rhetoric. The word has gained a negative connotation over the years, but it is “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing.” In this stage, we are finishing the house, putting up the trim, painting, and doing the landscape – getting curb appeal. The student is still getting particulars, but they are far more complex. The use of reasoning is when the student discovers relationships themselves. In this phase, we want our students to be able to clearly express what they have learned. Our Spring Lake, North Carolina students who attend our classical school are required to write as clearly on a science paper as they do for an English paper. Time is spent teaching how to research a topic and present it in the format required. It is not only important that the lab work be done well, but it must also be presented well.