What is Classical Education?

What is Classical Education?

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Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.

The first years of schooling are called the “grammar stage” — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — what we commonly think of as grades one through four — the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.

By fifth grade, a child’s mind begins to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, the “Logic Stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.

A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. 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, not simple absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method.

The final phase of a classical education, the “Rhetoric Stage,” builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language. Students also begin to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts them; these are the years for art camps, college courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training.

A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).

Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back” and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work.

A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.

But that isn’t all. To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn’t studied in isolation; it’s learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church’s relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man’s understanding of the divine.

This is easier said than done. The world is full of knowledge, and finding the links between fields of study can be a mind-twisting task. A classical education meets this challenge by taking history as its organizing outline — beginning with the ancients and progressing forward to the moderns in history, science, literature, art and music.

We suggest that the twelve years of education consist of three repetitions of the same four-year pattern: Ancients, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and Modern Times. The child studies these four time periods at varying levels — simple for grades 1-4, more difficult in grades 5-8 (when the student begins to read original sources), and taking an even more complex approach in grades 9-12, when the student works through these time periods using original sources (from Homer to Hitler) and also has the opportunity to pursue a particular interest (music, dance, technology, medicine, biology, creative writing) in depth.

The other subject areas of the curriculum are linked to history studies. The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medieval writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle. She’ll read Beowulf, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare the following year, when she’s studying medieval and early Renaissance history. When the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are studied, she starts with Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and ends with Dickens; finally, she reads modern literature as she is studying modern history.

The sciences are studied in a four-year pattern that roughly corresponds to the periods of scientific discovery: biology, classification and the human body (subjects known to the ancients); earth science and basic astronomy (which flowered during the early Renaissance); chemistry (which came into its own during the early modern period); and then basic physics and computer science (very modern subjects).

This pattern lends coherence to the study of history, science, and literature — subjects that are too often fragmented and confusing. The pattern widens and deepens as the student progresses in maturity and learning. For example, a first grader listens to you read the story of the Iliad from one of the picture book versions available at any public library. Four years later, the fifth grader reads one of the popular middle-grade adaptations — Olivia Coolidge’s The Trojan War, or Roger Lancelyn Greene’s Tales of Troy. Four more years go by, and the ninth grader — faced with the Iliad itself — plunges right in, undaunted.

The classical education is, above all, systematic — in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. This systematic, rigorous study has two purposes.

Rigorous study develops virtue in the student. Aristotle defined virtue as the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. The virtuous man (or woman) can force himself to do what he knows to be right, even when it runs against his inclinations. The classical education continually asks a student to work against his baser inclinations (laziness, or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal — mastery of a subject.

Systematic study also allows the student to join what Mortimer Adler calls the “Great Conversation” — the ongoing conversation of great minds down through the ages. Much modern education is so eclectic that the student has little opportunity to make connections between past events and the flood of current information. “The beauty of the classical curriculum,” writes classical schoolmaster David Hicks, “is that it dwells on one problem, one author, or one epoch long enough to allow even the youngest student a chance to exercise his mind in a scholarly way: to make connections and to trace developments, lines of reasoning, patterns of action, recurring symbolisms, plots, and motifs.”

Find out how many, many different families are implementing classical education at the Well-Trained Mind forums.

What Is A Charter School?

What Is A Charter School?

Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools, they are:

•    Open to all children;

•    Do not charge tuition; and

•    Do not have special entrance requirements.

 

The core of the charter school model is the belief that public schools should be held accountable for student learning. In exchange for this accountability, school leaders should be given freedom to do whatever it takes to help students achieve and should share what works with the broader public school system so that all students benefit.

In the early 1990s, a small group of educators and policymakers came together to develop the charter school model. Minnesota’s legislature passed the first charter law in 1991, and the first charter school opened in 1992.

 

WHY CHARTER SCHOOLS?

 

All children should have the opportunity to achieve at a high level, and charter schools are meeting that need:

•    Charter schools are some of the top-performing schools in the country.

•    Charter schools are closing the achievement gap. They are raising the bar of what’s possible—and what should be expected—in public education.

•    A higher percentage of charter students are accepted into a college or university.

 

How Do Charter Schools Work?

Charter schools foster a partnership between parents, teachers, and students. They create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are allowed to innovate, and students are provided the structure they need to learn. Some specific examples of how charter schools are working to improve student achievement include:

•    Adjusting curriculum to meet student needs. A charter school can break up the day to provide students with more time on the core subjects they need most. Charter school teachers have a say in the curriculum they teach and can change materials to meet students’ needs.

•    Creating a unique school culture. Charter schools build upon the core academic subjects by creating a school culture or adopting a theme. For example, charter schools may focus on Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) education, performing arts, college preparation, career readiness, language immersion, or meeting the needs of dyslexic students — just to name a few.

•    Developing next-generation learning models. Charter schools are rethinking the meaning of the word “classroom.” In Hawaii, students learn biology with the sky as their ceiling and the ocean as the classroom. Other schools combine online classroom time with classroom time in a physical school building. Excellent charter school networks like KIPP and Uncommon Schools are codifying how to develop an excellent teacher.

To know more: http://www.publiccharters.org/get-the-facts/public-charter-schools/

 

PURPOSE OF CHARTER SCHOOLS

 

The purpose of  “South Carolina Charter Schools Act of 1996” is to:

(1) improve student learning;

(2) increase learning opportunities for students;

(3) encourage the use of a variety of productive teaching methods;

(4) establish new forms of accountability for schools;

(5) create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site;

(6) assist South Carolina in reaching academic excellence; and

(7) create new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system, with the goal of closing achievement gaps between low-performing student groups and high performing student groups.

 

WHO CAN SPONSOR A CHARTER SCHOOL IN SOUTH CAROLINA?

 

In South Carolina, applications to start new schools may be made to the following entities:

(a)    A local School District in which the proposed school is located

(b)    The South Carolina Public Charter School District

(c)     A public or independent institution of higher learning that is registered as a Sponsor with the South Carolina Department of Education.

The South Carolina State Department of Education received the  Charter Institute at Erskine’s registration to sponsor Charter Schools in May of 2017. The Charter Institute reviews applications for new charters, grants charters, and oversees the accountability and public stewardship of the schools in the Charter Institute.

Core Knowledge Curriculum

Core Knowledge Curriculum

The Core Knowledge Curriculum Series™ provides comprehensive, content-rich learning materials based on the Core Knowledge Sequence. Student readers, teacher guides, activity books, and other materials are available for Language Arts and History and Geography. Materials for Science, Music, and Visual Arts are in development.

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By making many of our Core Knowledge curriculum materials freely available, we work to put into practice the principle that every child in a democracy should have access to shared, enabling knowledge.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or newer to view our materials, which is available as a free download on the Adobe website.

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Language Arts Curriculum

The Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum provides comprehensive materials to teach reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The program is free to download and available for students in Preschool through Grade 5.

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History and Geography Curriculum

Through our History and Geography curriculum, Core Knowledge offers comprehensive materials to teach world and American history and geography. The curriculum follows the Core Knowledge Sequence to help students build knowledge of diverse civilizations, cultures, and concepts.

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Visit the Core Knowledge Store to explore other content-rich materials, including the popular What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know series. Looking for print editions of items in the Core Knowledge Curriculum Series? As they become available, you’ll find those in the Store as well.

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