Classes and Curricula
We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Students take Bible class every year. Grammar and Logic students do both broad Biblical surveys and in depth studies of particular books. Students in our Rhetoric School study apologetics, hermeneutics, theology, and world views. Additionally, students regularly memorize Bible verses.
Our English classes follow the Shurley Method. The Shurley Method uses a step-by-step approach to language arts skills. The curriculum employs jingles to teach students the parts of speech. With the question and answer flow approach, students learn sentence structure by identifying and labeling parts of a sentence. Then students apply that knowledge by writing and revising their own practice sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
Rhetoric students take two years of Koina (Biblical) Greek. In the first year students learn the basics of Greek such as vocabulary, grammar, noun declensions, and verb conjugations. In their second year students study syntax and begin to read and translate long passages of the New Testament.
Grades 1-4 study Susan Wise Bauer’s masterful four volume The Story of the World series. In this series students begin with the ancient world, move through the Medieval and Renaissance Ages into modernity, and conclude in our contemporary age. Grades 5-6 study the History of the United States using All American History. Grades 7-12 use primary sources to study ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, modern, and American history. (For more details, see the Omnibus section below.)
Students in both Grammar School and Logic School study Latin. Some wonder: what benefits are there in studying a dead language? To begin with, because a majority of our English words have Latin roots studying Latin helps students with reading comprehension and increases their vocabulary. The curricula we use, Latin for Children and Latin Alive, are designed to match up with what students learn in Shurley English, which in turn allows them to better understand grammatical concepts and the logic of various sentence structures. Studying Latin also helps prepare students to study other language. Finally, the study of Latin trains students to think logically. These benefits are not theoretical, but clear, proven, and demonstrated in the fact that students that have studied or are studying Latin consistently score higher on standardized tests and college entrance exams.
Students in both our Logic School and Rhetoric School study formal logic using James Nance’s Logic series of textbooks. Logic helps students to reason correctly. Logic is essential not just to the study of geometry, history, and philosophy, but to the interpretation of the Bible and participation in a democracy. Without logic students are left helpless to the propaganda of sophists that seek to manipulate them through emotional appeals and fine sounding arguments. A firm grounding in logic allows students to understand their beliefs, defend them, and discourse intelligently with those with whom they disagree. Moreover, it allows them to identify false beliefs whether those beliefs are stated by friends, advertisers, or politicians. Logic used to form the backbone of a child’s education. Many schools no longer teach logic. The spending habits, voting patterns, and overall behavior of a number of our citizens clearly demonstrate the consequences of our discontinuance of this discipline. We recognize the need for clear and right thinking and for that reason we continue to formally instruct our students in logic.
“The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others . . . in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad of eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.” -C. S. Lewis
Literature ignites imagination and sparks creativity. As Lewis asserted, in reading great literature we transcend our individual selves and in so doing grow as individuals. In obeisance to Common Core Standards many schools are moving away from literature towards non-fiction. Non-fiction has an important place, but without great stories people become wooden and machine like. In our desire to educate the whole person we continue to put a premium on literature, especially on the works that have proven themselves over time to be among the world’s best.
Using Saxon Math in grades 1-8 allows us to teach new concepts incrementally. Instead of overwhelming students with all the steps for a new concept, Saxon Math builds on what they already know. This incremental approach allows for and encourages student discovery. Instead of being told what they need to know, students are challenged to figure out the next step based on what they have already discovered and learned. Moreover, Saxon Math provides for mixed practice that allows students to constantly and consistently review what they have learned in previous lessons. This ensures that they will remember the fundamental and essential mathematical concepts and skills that they will need as they advance in their studies.
Rhetoric students take Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and have the option of taking college level Calculus.
Omnibus forms the core of our curriculum in both our Logic and Rhetoric Schools. Omnibus covers four disciplines: Literature, History, Philosophy, and Theology and is divided into two cycles of three years: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern.
The following is a non-comprehensive selection of some of the texts we use.
History: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, Herodotus’s Histories, Livy’s Early History of Rome, Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, Plutarch’s Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans, and Suetonius’s The Twelve Caesars.
Literature: Aeschylus’s Oresteia, Beowulf, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Dante’s Comedy, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Macbeth, Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy, and Virgil’s Aeneid, ,
Philosophy: Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, The Federalist Papers, Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Plato’s Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Euthyphro, and Rousseau’s The Social Contract.
Theology: Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Luther’s The Bondage of the Will, Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism, and R. C. Sproul’s Chosen by God and The Holiness of God.
The formal teaching of penmanship has become passé in many schools. However, we recognize that there are a number of benefits in learning cursive so we continue to teach it to our students. Research shows that learning to write in cursive improves brain development in the areas of thinking, language, and memory. This is because cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing. As a result, the physical act of writing in cursive leads to increased reading comprehension. Writing in cursive also leads to increased hand eye coordination and neurological development. We use Zaner-Bloser penmanship books.
We use the tried and true phonics method in teaching literacy in grades K-2.
Rhetoric students take formal rhetoric classes. Here students learn how to write and speak clearly, persuasively, and winsomely. We use Memoria Press’s Classical Composition, Adler’s How to Read a Book, Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics, and Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric. As part of their rhetorical training, students participate in a yearly speech meet each fall. They also write a junior thesis.
God’s world is amazing! In our science classes we seek to fill our students with a sense of awe of God’s great creation. In our Grammar School we use the the Exploring Creation series and cover a number of different scientific fields including land animals, sea animals, botany, and human anatomy and physiology. Our Logic School students study Physical Science and Health, while our Rhetoric students take courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
Our students’ education culminates in the researching and writing of a senior thesis. Students spend months researching a topic of their choice and then write (and rewrite!) an original paper on that topic. This requires them to evaluate sources, organize their thoughts, and present their findings persuasively. After completing their paper students have to defend their thesis to a panel.
Spelling & Vocabulary
Grammar students formally study spelling using Matt Whitling’s The Grammar of Spelling.