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The Classical Approach to Education
The Academy curriculum is based on the Classical Trivium as understood by the Holy Church. Three stages of the Trivium are Grammar, Dialectic (i.e. Logic), and Rhetoric. In the Middle Ages, the zenith of Catholic Civilization, the Trivium supplied the student for what was called the Quadrivium.
In the Grammar stage, the student learns particulars, facts. It is important to note that Grammar is more than language studies. Every academic subject has a “grammar”. For example, in Mathematics, the grammar would include division and multiplication tables. In the study of History, it would include kings, battles, wars, important dates, etc. In Geography, grammar would include identifying continents, rivers, mountains and the like.
Children in this younger stage love the chance to memorize and it is foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity. Public education, with all its “bells and whistles”, rejects this basic psychological truth. It is just as agreeable for youngsters to chant, “Amo, Amas, Amat,” as it is to recite “Hickory, Dickory, Dock!” Mastery of the Grammar stage requires large amounts of memorization and this should be done when memorization is easy and agreeable. Thus, our younger students are taught to store away in memory large amounts of information which they do not yet understand completely. That comes at the next stage.
The Dialectic, or Logic, stage is when the student begins examining the relationship between and among particulars. For example, what is the relationship between the geography of Virginia and the Battle of First Manassas? The revelation contained in the Book of Genesis and the theory of evolution? Now the student learns the laws of logic and proper argumentation. The study of formal Logic teaches correct thinking and its application to all other subjects.
The third stage of the Trivium is the Rhetorical. Here students learn how to communicate what they know and believe in a worthy and convincing fashion. From Aristotle to Cicero and then to the Church Fathers, the student studies the finest examples of argumentation in service to the Truth.
The Board and Directors of the Academy, with the assistance of the Academy staff, has developed a curriculum that embodies these principles. The Academy, however, reserves the right to refine the curriculum in light of our actual experience. The Board will never approve any subject, books, or other academic material that departs from the teaching of Holy Church.
The beauty of the classical curriculum 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. -David Hicks