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About Classical

 

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A classical education is an exciting journey that was first successfully navigated by the ancient Greeks. Over time, classical Christian education, in particular, has proven to be the most effective way to teach young souls how to appreciate beauty, seek truth, and become both virtuous and wise. To separate truth from falsehood, discern right from wrong, ponder genuine beauty, and refuse to be deceived – in other words, to see the world clearly – together comprise the ultimate goal of education, and these are the hallmarks of a classical Christian education.

 

A strong classical Christian education accomplishes these objectives by focusing on the tools of learning, on the study of the fine points of language and communication, and on reading and engaging with the works of the greatest minds and writers in the Western world. Classical learning focuses heavily on ideas, a practice central to our design as rational thinking creatures who bear the image of God. In its focus on knowing objective truth, classical education demonstrates how to apply reason in the search for truth. Students are encouraged to learn from those who have gone before them and who have wisely wrestled with life’s ultimate questions. The goal is not only to achieve academic rigor so that students might grow intellectually, but also that their souls would be nourished. Souls grow as students read and discuss great books and contemplate great ideas while seeking the mind of Christ.

 

The framework for this development is the classical Trivium, which consists of a threefold progression of studies beginning with Grammar in the early years and moving to Dialectic studies in the middle years before finishing with the Rhetoric stage of learning. These three stages correspond to students’ natural development, allowing them to understand more sophisticated studies as they mature.

 

Caldwell Academy, a PK-12 Classical Christian School in Greensboro, NC.

Grammar Stage (TK-5th Grade)

Students in the Grammar stage possess an innate ability to memorize and retain facts. Our use of classical methodology fosters this ability by including many songs, chants, and jingles in Caldwell’s  Grammar School curriculum to help students memorize and retain the foundational facts and truths that they will rely on throughout their education. Hands-on learning experiences stimulate students’ natural curiosity as well as their creativity.

Dialectic Ambassadors

Dialectic Stage (6th-8th Grade)

The Dialectic Stage (sometimes called the Logic Stage) is the developmental period in which a student naturally moves from questions of “what” and begins to ask “Why?” Students at this stage have developed the ability to think more abstractly, and from this newfound capacity flows their love of questioning and the tendency to debate anything, from the intricacies of a just war to the color of the sky. At Caldwell Academy we believe that the ability to reason and argue correctly will set our graduates apart when they enter college and their chosen spheres of influence. To accomplish this goal, our Dialectic School focuses on nurturing sound reasoning skills by teaching students to define terms, recognize logical fallacies, and identify assumptions. Our Dialectic classrooms are filled with discussion and debate as our teachers encourage students to ask questions and discuss ideas.

Thesis at Caldwell Academy, a PK-12 Classical Christian School in Greensboro, NC.

Rhetoric Stage (9th-12th Grade)

Students in the Rhetoric Stage have become independent thinkers and have naturally developed a concern about how they are perceived by others. Our Rhetoric curriculum focuses on giving students the tools they need to effectively communicate with and persuade an audience, whether a small group of peers, a panel of judges, or an auditorium packed with listeners of all ages. We encourage our students to draw on the facts they memorized during the Grammar Stage and to apply the logical thinking skills acquired during the Dialectic Stage in order to exercise and develop further skills in debate, apologetics, essay writing, speech, and drama. Before receiving their diplomas, they must complete the Senior Thesis assignment, the capstone of a Caldwell Academy education. Each Senior must research and defend an arguable thesis both in a paper submitted in class and in an oral presentation before a panel of professionals whose respective backgrounds allow them to challenge and evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s presentation.

Subject integration is part of the classical methodology at Caldwell Academy in Greensboro, NC

Content

While the Trivium is the framework for Caldwell’s classical Christian instruction, the content of our instruction is the means by which we cultivate a love for wisdom and virtue in each student’s mind, body, and heart, all under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The content allows students to enter what is known as the Great Conversation, delving into works that have withstood the test of time so that our young scholars are able to rest on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This means that we intentionally read the best that literature and history have to offer, not tossing aside great works from ages past, but instead valuing them for what they teach us. Our studies also focus on the Liberal Arts and Sciences, emphasizing a well-rounded study of math and science, history and literature, foreign language – including Latin studies from the Grammar through the Rhetoric years – along with theology and the arts, with emphasis on all disciplines and no particular specialization at an early age. Through this traditional study of the Liberal Arts, a great emphasis is placed on reading primary (original) texts and developing communication skills, including research, writing, and speaking. We further seek to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to our content, whereby all subjects are integrated rather than compartmentalized as is so often the case in modern education.

Teachers are mentors at Caldwell Academy, a PK-12 Classical Christian School in Greensboro, NC.

The Teacher as Mentor

Another key to our classical Christian approach to education is disposition, or the teacher as mentor. We believe in Socrates’ notion that education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire, and that is best accomplished through teachers who have a love for lifelong learning and a desire to mentor students in their area of expertise. Our teachers do not merely regard their work as vocational training, but rather look to set a moral compass as ideas are contemplated, enabling them to shepherd the heart and nurture the soul. They encourage students to think critically and deeply and to seek Christ in every facet of their world. They consider Christ’s teaching of His disciples as they look to cultivate wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, beauty, and goodness.

Preparing for life at Caldwell Academy in Greensboro, NC.

Preparing for Life at its Best

The outcome of all of this, we pray, is young men and women who are lifelong learners, who are creative problem solvers, who can think outside the box, who can develop a rational argument, and who can communicate eloquently and winsomely – across the disciplines of mathematics and science, history and literature, theology and the fine arts. We prepare our students to flourish, to pursue the life of the mind, to engage the culture and develop their understanding of the world around them, to delight in the joys of God’s creation, and to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Our ultimate goal is for all of our students to develop more fully in becoming who they were made to be.

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