Philosophy

Philosophy

The purpose of a classical Christian education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom and specifically truth, beauty and goodness in every aspect of education and at GCA, we place much emphasis on these qualities of education. Additionally, we strive to model and instill the principals of respect (children are a living soul to be nourished), discipline (the foundation of every kind of creativity and maturity), reverence (Awe, sublimity, and joyful solemnity), and propriety (giving every idea its fitting expression) in each and every student at Grace Classical Academy.

 There are five ideas that distinguish Classical education from Conventional (from Andrew Kern, Circe Institute):

  1. A unifying principal that orders all learning, thus an integrated, proportioned course of learning.
  2. Recognition of the transforming power of ideas, thus an emphasis on training students to contemplate ideas rather than merely retain content or master processes.
  3. Virtue as the end of education, rather than mere application, thus a concerted and rigorous effort to cultivate every human faculty in every student.
  4. Recognition of the need for mentors, models, examples, etc. who are masters of their area of knowledge and who are the kinds of people we hope the students will grow up to become. In a word: honor and recognition to genuine authority.
  5. Endless emphasis on reality over mere appearance, thus the recognition that perception is powerful, but it is not necessarily reality. When one is taught that perception is reality, accountability and the need to grow are either relativized, trivialized, or removed altogether.

In order to implement the above qualities and attributes within our program, we first and foremost subject the Academy to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that all things “in the heavens and on earth” were created “by Christ” and “for Him” and that He is the One in whom “all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17). Before he ascended, our Lord Himself taught us that “all authority” was given to Him “in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:19). And elsewhere, He taught us that “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30). Because He is Lord of all, we need to learn that we either are for Him or against Him in every area of life and in every endeavor. No neutral zone exists. 

Education is Either for Christ or Against Him
One's worldview dictates how they interpret facts and information which effects how they teach. The education we provide our children is from a Christian worldview and is subject to the Lordship of Christ. If He is not Lord of our children’s entire education, then He is not Lord of our children’s education at all. Any education that is not for Him actually is against Him. Some Christians understand this point well enough when it comes to modern, atheistic education, but all of us need to understand this point when it comes to our officially “agnostic” public schools, as well as non-Christian or nominally Christian private schools. Stated more bluntly: Any education that tries to be neutral ignores Christ, makes Him irrelevant, and ends up dethroning Him.

We Must Teach Our Children to Love God with Their All
Our children belong to God. He entrusts them to us as stewards and calls us to raise them for Him and His glory. He calls us to teach our children to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and He calls us to surround them with the Word of God from the time they get up in the morning until the time they go to bed at night (Deut. 6:4-9; Matt. 22:37). We are to help our children “tear down strongholds” and “take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). At Grace, we help our children learn to love God with their all; we surround our children with His Word all day long; we teach our children to tear down strongholds and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

We Must Raise Our Children in the Education of the Lord
The Bible also commands parents to train their children in “the admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Most translations lose the force of this passage. Literally, it should be translated “in the education of the Lord.” This passage actually commands Christian parents to not only surround their children with a biblical culture, but to impress upon their souls the things of the Lord so that they will carry within their hearts and minds a Christian worldview. At GCA, we cultivate and promote a positive Christian culture in every classroom every day.   

Classical Education Trains the Mind
Training students in the classical languages (Latin and Greek) and Mathematics as the central emphases of the school serve to provide children with formative benefits (the languages and the classical approach to mathematics require a high degree of memorization and analysis to master, making these subjects a critical part in the training of our students’ minds) and practical benefits (the ability to read and translate ancient literature, especially the Greek New Testament; an aid to mastering English grammar and vocabulary; help in standardized testing). Also, the mathematical emphasis is a key similar to that of Latin and Greek because it is a cumulative subject, each year building upon itself, resulting in analytical and reasoning capabilities that will serve our students very well in their world. Lastly, the method used at the Academy, the three-stage Trivium method, is a critical template that can be used to learn any subject at any time, and the mastery of mathematics and ancient languages will serve to encourage our graduates by imparting to them a confidence-building method for learning anything.

In the grammar stage, the classical student absorbs a large amount of elementary knowledge (such as facts, names, dates, vocabulary, spelling, mathematical tables, etc.) and attains mastery of the fundamentals of reading and mathematics. Classically trained students master the tools and methods of learning in an orderly way, and they are not encouraged to “express themselves” until they first master critical facts and learn how to think logically. Then and only then are they in a position to begin to express themselves in a way that is grammatically correct, cogent, and compelling.

Classical educators do not see subjects as self-contained and isolated. Knowledge is more like a web than a chest of drawers; there are no subjects taught that are unrelated to the others. Classical Christian education integrates all teaching in Christ, for He is the “logos” that binds every subject in a universal harmony, making sense of all things and lifting learning and knowledge to the realm of eternal meaning. Thus at GCA, we emphasize an integration of Christ in every subject and then show the connections between the various subjects.

The goal is not higher test scores, but higher test scores do result when true education takes place in the classroom. Classical education does not train students to take a particular test or to assume a particular trade after graduation. Instead, it trains students to think and communicate with a mind of wisdom so that they can specialize in their studies downstream and pursue any legitimate calling thereafter.

The Lost Tools of Learning & The Trivium

The Trivium, coupled with the later Quadrivium, was the educational method used in Western Civilization to produce some of the greatest scholars that the world has ever known. It first developed in ancient Greece, and was used hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. As the church became more influential after Constantine, it adopted the Trivium as a basic method of education, and it was used widely until the early twentieth century here in America. Unfortunately, with the rise of educational "reforms" of the 19th century the Trivium was set aside.

The Academy is classical in that its approach has the Trivium as a base. Classical languages (Latin and Greek) are included in the curriculum. Other subjects are as follows: Math, History, Language Arts, Geography, Literature, Theology, Music, Art, and Science. Academy teachers carry out their classroom duties by using techniques that are appropriate to stages of a child’s development.

    • The Pre-Grammar Stage: In Kindergarten – 2nd grade, students focus on learning to read in English, concentrating on flawless decoding and fluency, and becoming numerate. Students in this stage will also be led to grow in poetic knowledge of true, beautiful and good things i.e. good books, the discovery of animals & plant life, music and the Bible.
    • The Grammar Stage: In the 2nd through 6th grades, students will become familiar with the “grammar” of classical languages, and other subjects, as well as becoming proficient in arithmetic. During this stage of their education, students become conversant in the basic rules of the things they will continue to study at a deeper level in the dialectic stage.
    • The Dialectic Stage: In the 7th through 9th grades, the facts and basic rules learned in the grammar stage are used to challenge students to make associations and connections between and among the subjects they will study. The introduction of games involving intellectual strategy, logic and algebra will deepen their ability to think and become comfortable in abstract thought processes.
    • The Rhetoric Stage: In the 10th through 12th grades, students will fuse together their Latin, Greek, English and History studies to begin to form ideas and express those ideas in a winsome, powerful and beautiful way both in writing and speaking. Students will also begin their study in calculus and the advanced sciences. The capstone of an education at Grace Classical Academy is the presentation and defense, by the student, of a thesis before the faculty. 

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