Christian Classical Education
A classical education is based on great ideas, great books, foundational truths and principles, and enduring traditions and skills. It holds to established standards. Calvary Christian Academy offers a classical education in the broad sense of being traditional, time-tested, and intellectually rigorous rather than centrally focusing on Latin and Greek studies.
The “classics” at the core of a classical education at Calvary Christian Academy are works of art, music, literature, history, and science. When taught in the classical setting these subjects express profound insight, artistic creativity, and enduring cultural value. By studying the classics, students encounter the most influential thinkers, artists, and writers, and gain an understanding of history and culture. Studying these classics through the lens of God’s word, equips students to make judgments using Biblical morals and prepares with discernment for profound ideas, including those that directly clash with Christianity.
The foundational structure that is used in classical education is called the Trivium. The Trivium incorporates three progressive stages in the development of a child:
|Grammar||Kindergarten - 6th Grade|
|Logic||7th - 9th Grade|
|Rhetoric||10th - 12th Grade|
In the grammar stage, children’s minds are like sponges; they soak up and absorb information. During these years they are natural masters of memorization and recitation of knowledge. Grammar coursework at Calvary Christian Academy focuses on memorizing factual information in a variety of subject matter, including phonograms, math facts, maps, scripture, and poetry. As students mature into the Logic Stage, the coursework branches out to gathering and interpreting information. Students can then interpret the implications and limitations of the information they have studied. Ultimately, students learn to articulately present what they have learned, both orally and in writing in the rhetoric stage. For students at Calvary Christian Academy, educational knowlege will increase upon each stage of development. Younger students not only learn facts, but can also commincate about what they have learned. Likewise older students will continue to add new and more complex factual information to their store of knowledge.
The Influence of Charlotte Mason
Calvary Christian Academy’s educational philosophy and methods are also derived from those of British educator Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), particularly in the lower class levels. Ms. Mason, a renowned “teacher of teachers,” founded a number of grammar schools and a college to train teachers. The elements of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy that have been incorporated into that of Calvary Christian Academy are the following:
• Parents are the primary influence in their children’s lives, and they must accept and fulfill this responsibility—it cannot be delegated. In Mason’s words: “More than anything else it is the home influences brought to bear upon the child that determine the character and career of the future man or woman.”
• Children are born as individuals of worth and, as such, should be valued and respected. Curriculum for children, therefore, should reflect their value and potential as human beings and should never be “dumbed down.” Rather, the curriculum must be full of books and experiences that exemplify and teach truth, beauty, and goodness. In particular, a school’s curriculum should be filled with “living books” and not simply textbooks, graded readers, and vapid works.
• The teaching and reinforcing of mental and moral habits help students automatically learn to do what is right, and will aid them in their future development.
• Nature study should be an integral part of children’s grammar school years. The study of nature allows children to develop all of their senses and trains them to observe, count, classify, interpret, draw, and record. Nature study helps children love and appreciate the magnificence of God as the Creator of all. Moreover, nature study is foundational to developing skills in inquiry, observation, and analysis that are integral not only to scientific investigation but also to fields as diverse as the study of history and of the visual arts.
• The use of oral and written narration develops students’ overall language skills. Students tell back or “narrate” a story they have heard or read. They retell, as much as possible, word for word. As students narrate, they learn good writing style, as they often recite or write in the same style as the author. Narration also strengthens and develops their vocabulary and memory skills.
Christian Classical + Charlotte Mason = Calvary Christian Academy Educational Philosophy
Calvary Christian Academy’s educational approach is uniquely based on the Christian Classical model while incorporating several teaching philosophies of Charlotte Mason primarily during the early grammar years. With a proven model, methods that support children to grow in moral character, and ultimately the guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ, Calvary Christian Academy is recapturing education.