Our educational model is an outworking of the Christian belief that all things are to be subservient to the Triune God as revealed in Holy Scripture and nature. In their time at the Academy, our students will encounter a curriculum that truly represents the order, coherency, and wonder of God’s creation. We believe the best way to accomplish this is through the classical model of education. As we use it here, the word classical refers to the structure and the content of our studies.
The way we practice “classical” education at the Academy can be summarized in four ways.
- Liberal Arts
Our English word “liberal” comes from the Latin word liber— meaning ‘free’. The ancient Greeks and Romans conceived this system of education as the way to produce freethinking citizens. As the center of western civilization migrated with Christianity, the medieval scholars synthesized this system into seven “arts”—grammar, dialectic (logic), rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. This curriculum is comprehensive in scope and requires rigorous training in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. We believe that these are not only subjects to be mastered, but also sure ways of cultivating intellectual virtue, which is necessary for acquiring true wisdom.
- Western Civilization
Classical education is not merely a rigorous program. This same type of rigor could happen at a vocational school. Rather, an essential part of classical education is an attitude. We want fluency, but also gratitude for the heritage of Western civilization, which finds its crown in the Christian tradition. In the course of their education at the Academy, our students will have read the greatest books ever written. Through teaching Plato to Pascal, Aristotle to Augustine, we seek to preserve and transmit the best the human mind has to offer. We firmly believe that if we are not listening to the great minds of the past, we are not being educated. Our goal, however, is not simply to agree with everything that is “traditional.” As the students grow in their understanding of Western civilization, they will realize that while some basic truths are to be found in the Great Books, many errors are also found. This is what one classical educator called the “great conversation” –the process of measuring oneself against the great achievements and errors of our shared history.
- Latin and Greek
Implementing the liberal arts, and devoting ourselves to the Great Books has naturally lead us to leach Latin and Greek. We do this for two reasons. First, the study of Latin in particular has shown to be of great benefit in the development of language skills and logical thinking. Students who study Latin consistently test higher than their peers. Secondly, we believe to understand these great works in all their beauty is to read them in the original languages. Here, we mimic the Renaissance humanists and Reformation theologians in their journey “back to the sources.”
- High view of humankind
All of the great monotheistic religions and even some of the higher forms of polytheism acknowledge humankind’s inherent nobility and depravity. We can see this in the Greeks tragedians who saw man as just beneath the gods and processing rational souls capable of discerning right and wrong and yet also profoundly marred and prone to evil. This idea finds it’s clearest expression in the Christian scriptures, which teach that we are all created in the image of God, and yet blinded by sin. This anthropology means that we are preeminently concerned with leading our students to the rejuvenation of their hearts, minds and spirits. Education cannot be merely occupational training. In order to fulfill his or her place in the universe, our students must know who they are what they must do to glorify God and enjoy him forever.