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How Do We Implement a Classical Education in our Upper School Humanities Curriculum?

socrates Conversation artThe Upper School Humanities faculty is convinced that the Classical approach best enables students to achieve their own, as well as their parents’, educational goals. What is our rationale?

First of all, the Upper School Humanities department chooses its course content within the Classical context. We include the principles, goals, and forms of the ancients that display the lasting values of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Seventh and eighth graders, for example, study the epics of Homer and evaluate his poetic devices, as well as his heroes’ virtues of honor and loyalty. Our ninth graders engage with the Old Testament patriarchs and examine their ability (or inability) to live within God’s covenantal Law.

Secondly, the term Classical applies to teaching methods or “pedagogy.” In our humanities courses we focus on the mental reasoning and skills peculiar to the Logic and Rhetoric stages of development of students. For example, we frequently utilize the Socratic method of questioning at the Logic stage to promote critical thinking necessary for future learning in college and career. We require our upperclassmen to write complex essays or give presentations to their peers to demonstrate mastery of the material. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, our coursework fosters spiritual development through biblical integration with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Finally, a Classical Humanities education represents a philosophy of learning. We believe that the integration of content from one subject to another will give our students the broadest understanding of God’s supervision of the history and achievements of mankind. To this end, we have developed a Humanities curriculum that extensively integrates studies in history, literature, and Bible; a single teacher or team of teachers works to coordinate readings and assignments within a chronological framework. We believe that this avoidance of the typical compartmentalized approach enables our students to participate in the “Great Conversation” which has engaged thinkers through the ages. Ultimately, our Classical philosophy values learning as a lifelong goal…a task encouraged by our great Creator in His Word.

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