Simply put, a Classical education is the best preparation for continuing education and for a full, rich life. It includes the training in critical thinking found in prep schools and Ivy League colleges. At Providence Academy, students learn how to think and solve problems on their own. Your children will be more knowledgeable, resourceful, confident and independent.
Our Classical Education Method
Classical Christian education is the best of both worlds—it promotes high academic standards while incorporating a biblical world view into all areas of learning.
At Providence Academy we follow a teaching model known as the Trivium, a system that formed the foundation of a medieval liberal arts education. How does this model fit with our modern world? That question was answered in 1947 by Dorothy L. Sayers, a novelist who addressed Oxford University on the topic of education.
In her speech entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Sayers opposed the educational reforms of her day. She turned the tables on “progressive” educators by arguing that the very things they wished to achieve (i.e. making students fit for the modern world) can only be achieved by recovering the medieval model of a classical liberal arts education. If anything, her assertions are even truer in today’s complex world.
Classical Christian education has proven to be superior to so-called “progressive” methods. Providence Academy students score two to three grade levels higher than national averages in all subject areas as evaluated by the Terra Nova assessment series.
The Trivium is comprised of three parts—grammar, logic and rhetoric. Classical education teaches children the timeless skills of thinking, reasoning, logic and expression.
Grammar: K – 6th Grade
The first years of schooling are called the grammar stage, but it is not limited to English. Just as grammar is the foundation of language, all subjects have their respective “grammars” of rudimentary knowledge.
During this time, students are best equipped to memorize and order facts of various subject areas. All subjects can be broken down into a foundational set of basic facts, rules, and skills to be committed to memory. Rules of phonics, spelling, stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants, animals and the human body, are just some of the areas covered. This provides the foundational background knowledge necessary to build on in the later years when reason, analysis and expression are emphasized.
In addition, during the Grammar phase students begin training in Latin which is a vital foundation for understanding a wealth of material, including, but not limited to grammatical concepts, vocabulary, sentence structure, many languages and Western civilization.
In the Grammar phase, knowledge is absorbed, reinforced and unified in a Christ-centered world view, forming the beginning of a more complete and full Christian understanding of the world.
Logic: 7th – 9th Grade
At this time students begin to think more analytically. They become less interested in learning facts and start asking “Why?” It is a time when the student begins to pay more attention to cause and effect, to the relationship between different fields of knowledge, and the way facts fit together into a logical framework.
Students use the tools they have acquired to develop understanding and advance theories and arguments based on logical processes. Socratic questioning, deduction, and constructive criticism are introduced. Students are encouraged to ask questions and develop answers systematically; assertively challenging fallacious arguments, faulty reasoning, and unsound thought processes.
The logic of writing, for example, includes paragraph construction and learning to support a thesis; the logic of reading involves the criticism and analysis of texts; the logic of history demands that students find out why a war was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that students learn the scientific method.
Learning through this phase and mastering the tools of questioning, logical reasoning, and analysis is critical to the proper growth of the imagination and is the basis of the final stage of the Trivium.
Rhetoric: 10th – 12th Grade
The final phase of a classical education, the rhetoric stage, builds on the first two. This stage equips students with a level of intellectual freedom to explore self-expression, creativity, and scholarly application through original compositions and oral presentations that engage with a challenging Great Books college preparatory curriculum.
This phase of education engages students when they are naturally concerned with presentation and polish and seeing things “as a whole.” It challenges them to combine the knowledge learned in the grammar phase and the analytical and logical skills learned in the logic phase with skills of presentation and persuasion learned through the discipline of formal rhetoric and Socratic-style seminars.
In this phase, these budding orators begin to express their ideas on subjects in clear, forceful, persuasive, and elegant language. They engage in the “great conversation” of thinkers and authors in the tradition of Western authors, artists, philosophers, and scientists seeking wisdom and eloquence. The result is informed, engaged, articulate students prepared for cultural leadership and representative of the classical Christian education provided them at Providence Academy.
*A more in-depth description of classical education and Providence Academy’s curriculum is found in the “Policy Handbook.”