A Classical Approach to Curriculum
Classical education at Redeemer Classical School gives students:
- A working knowledge of the timetables of history
- A foundation in the literary classics of the West
- Continual training in written and spoken expression
- An interdisciplinary study of science and mathematics
- An appreciation for the arts
- Enriched language, logic and literary skills through the study of Latin
- A fundamental understanding of the principles of logic
- An understanding of orthodox theology
Our college-preparatory curriculum — based on the methodology of the trivium — trains a child how to think, reason and explore any subject. Instruction and assignments are appropriate to students’ natural development of intellectual capacities for memorization, higher-order thinking, and formation and explanation of their personal understandings of the world. All subjects are approached with a Christian world view that blends reason and faith. We seek to teach children the rules which govern good science, history, art, music, writing, logic and math so that they may appreciate all these subjects to the fullest and may thereby give glory to God.
We want to help children make sense of the world around them by concentrating their studies on one period of history at a time. We allow children to investigate each time period in depth through the perspectives, works, words and deeds of artists, musicians, writers, scientists, mathematicians, theologians, philosophers, historians and heroes belonging to a particular stage of history.
The study of history at Redeemer is roughly divided into four sections:
- the Ancients (5000 BC-400 AD)
- the Middle Ages (400-1600)
- Late Renaissance (1600-1850
- Modern Times (1850-Present)
Each year in school, students move chronologically through a section of the timeline. The following year, the students pick up with the next section and continue their travels through history.
As a student progresses through the three stages in a classical education, the history timeline is repeated a total of three times. Each cycle through the timeline allows the students to build on what they learned in the past and expand their knowledge further. In addition, children are different at each stage of their development and will approach history in different ways as they grow. At the grammar stage, they will benefit from memorizing dates and events and beginning to develop an understanding of the flow of history that has preceded them. At the logic stage, students will still memorize dates and events but will also engage in regular discussion of the importance of these dates and events. At the rhetoric stage, students will continue to build on past learning and refine their ability to express logical thought concerning historical events.
Why do we approach history in this way? We want children to have a realistic picture of their place in history. We do not want children to believe that great and important things have happened only in the 21st century and only in America. We want children to recognize that great men and women have lived in all ages of history.
Classics Of Western Literature
We believe that what we read matters. We are not content for children simply to read a great many pages of any type of book but to spend their reading time on the very best literature possible. According to the authors of Invitation to the Classics, these “classics” or “great books” display the following qualities:
- They not only exhibit distinguished style, fine artistry, and keen intellect but create whole universes of imagination and thought.
- They portray life as complex and many-sided, depicting both negative and positive aspects of human character in the process of discovering and testing enduring virtues.
- They have a transforming effect on the reader’s self-understanding
- They invite and survive frequent re-readings.
- They adapt themselves to various times and places and provide a sense of the shared life of humanity.
- Their appeal endures over wide reaches of time.
(Invitation to the Classics, Louise Cowen and Os Guiness, Baker Books, 2001)
Some of these books are challenging to read. However, a book which requires nothing of its reader is probably not worth reading at all. Any child will be enriched by a wonderful book, though perhaps in different ways, depending on his ability, maturity, and reading experience.
In addition to these literary classics, we also give children the opportunity to read the best modern books. It is important for children to know how their contemporaries are viewing the world as it is now and as it has existed in the past.
In addition to their preparation for frequent classroom discussions with their peers, students will also be taught to write with skill and precision. The ability to write well is a tool that students will use the rest of their life. Children of all skill levels can sharpen this tool for their lifetime use, whether it is used to earn a living, to write logical letters to the editor, or simply to express themselves through their personal letters. Writing will be employed throughout the curriculum, even in math, art, and music classes. Because we want our students to transform their culture rather than be transformed by it, we intend that they become proficient writers who also are able to distinguish between well-crafted writing and illogical ramblings.
Redeemer Classical School offers a challenging mathematics curriculum that teaches age-appropriate math concepts. Teachers encourage students to recognize and appreciate how the order found in nature can be represented in mathematical terms and that this orderliness reflects the perfection and wisdom of our Creator.
Redeemer offers a rigorous science education that prepares students for the future. Our intent is to give students the opportunity to use their minds rather than “protect” them from studying material with which they or their parents may not agree. For example, because our science teachers will affirm that God is the Creator, students in the upper grades will explore the many theories of creation including young earth creationism and theisitic and non-theistic evolutionary theory. This to challenge and sharpen their thinking as well as to give them a more complete scientific education. As always, parents are encouraged to work with their child at home to reconcile any theological issues and concerns that might arise from the exploration of new material. Our hope is that we will train a new generation of Christians equipped to continue the work of the great Christian scientists of the past as our students gain a sense of wonder regarding God’s work in the natural world.
Art And Music
Children at Redeemer Classical School develop observation skills as they learn the fundamentals of drawing, and the elements and principles of design. They will also learn the fundamentals of music to enable them to appreciate the mathematical precision and beauty of well-crafted musical works. Among other things, we lead students to imitate the great artists and musicians of the ages. We believe that creative expression rightly follows, not precedes, a foundation of basic rules of drawing and music. Children learn to appreciate artistic and musical works that have enduring value and come to understand what gives a work this type of value.
Why study a ‘dead’ language which has not been spoken in casual conversation for thousands of years?
First, students of Latin can easily develop wonderful vocabulary skills. Although English is a Germanic language, many of our words are derived from Latin. For example, almost any English noun ending in –-ity, -tion, -nce or English verb ending in –ct ,–te or -st has its root in a Latin word. So, nation, rapidity, relevance, reject, rotate, insist and all the other BOLD-FACED WORDS in this paragraph come to us from Latin. English-speaking students of Latin will not only easily add new words to their vocabulary, but also have an insight regarding their own language that they would not otherwise possess. Second, Latin is the origin of all other Romance languages, such as Spanish, French, and Italian. The child who has studied Latin will find these easy to master. Third, Latin translation requires a precision that modern languages do not. The child trained to use this precision develops unique skills in observation and interpretation as well as an appreciation for his own language. Finally, since we are offering the great books of the ages to students, it is most appropriate that we train them to read these books. Some of the greatest works of literature were written in Latin and will be read in the original language by our students. Other great writers of the past who did not write in Latin still were students of Latin and filled their writing with references to our common Latin heritage. Being a student of Latin gives students an enjoyment and understanding of Western literary classics that they would otherwise miss.
Students in grades 3-8 receive formal logic instruction and are taught to think logically across all subjects. Teachers of all courses are trained in the principles of logic so that they may engage children in logical, well-formed discussions in all classes. We will consider ourselves successful if children begin to use their logic skills in their daily life as they evaluate the culture in which they live, thinking critically about movies they watch, books they read, and discussions they have with others.
We believe that Biblical and theological thought is important, and help children recognize God’s handiwork in every subject. Students read, memorize and discuss Biblical passages and documents of historic, orthodox Christendom.