In 6th-8th grade, scholars at Classical Prep expand on the skills and knowledge developed during the grammar years through learning to analyze causal connections and relationships between facts in all content courses. Teachers challenge scholars during classroom discussion to participate in inquiry and debate. This is why all middle school courses are honors-level. Rather than merely learning the facts in history, literature, arts, or science classes, scholars must think logically about the content they study. Writing assignments are assessed for style and quality of argumentation. Scholars learn to synthesize information across subject areas, beginning to look beyond their own narrow world and recognize and understand the viewpoints of others both past and present.
Ms. Jasmine Brightman
Upper School Principal
“At Classical Prep, students are tasked not only with striving for academic excellence, but also understanding the connections between the disciplines. Teaching science here, affords many opportunities for me to guide students towards analytical inquiry, delve deep into topics through Socratic discussion and acquire the understanding that science encompasses all disciplines.”
Eager to learn
Proven Advantage with Classical Studies
Classical education, liberal education at the 6-8 level is rigorous but completely accessible to scholars who are willing to put in the time and effort. The return on this investment is a foundation from which a student can successfully progress to read complicated texts, converse intelligently on a wide variety of topics, and proceed with confidence into higher-level learning.
The learning mind
Classical Preparatory Curriculum
Classical education, liberal education, has a method of teaching developed and honed for over two thousand years in the West. Without knowing the things around us, the things that brought us here, the words and structure of language through which we express these things—animals, plants, elements, rivers, cities, Presidents, poems, nouns, verbs, adjectives—we cannot think at all.
The greatest genius of the age, in learning a foreign tongue, would still have to begin with the rudiments of the language. For a young mind to become ready for thought it must pursue a massive importation and organization of basic facts: the bricks for building the edifice. To this end, learning in the early grades, what some call the “grammar stage,” consists largely in mastering facts and strengthening the power of the mighty memory to recall these facts on demand.
Teaching to learn
The History of Classical Education
The History of Classical Education
Classical education’s methodology derives directly from its history. The theory arose during the time period of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, thus resulting in the term “classical”. Citizens of the first democracy, these men knew that this novel form of government was but a “noble and sluggish horse” that could not proceed without educated, virtuous citizens to ensure its survival. Such citizens were necessary in a society where they would have to make innumerable personal, professional, and political decisions on their own. They would need the ability to thoughtfully examine both themselves and others, as well as of any proposition, tradition, and authority. These Greek philosophers worked to curb the tendency to accede unthinkingly to any accepted beliefs of the day and to cultivate critical thought and virtuous character.
The goal of classical education was to train the mind and the heart to seek for the true, the good, and the beautiful. As time went on, others built upon this theory, incorporating the Greek form of grammar education – the teaching of basic skills – along with teaching of logic and rhetoric, the art of speaking and writing effectively. This education became the predominant way people were educated from ancient times until about 50 years ago. In fact, it is most likely the education your grandparents received.
Classical education is particularly deeply rooted in American life. In 1635, the original settlers of the Massachusetts Bay colony formed the first public high school in America – the Boston Latin School. This school provided a classical education through a rigorous curriculum based upon the classics, the study of Latin and Greek languages and literature, oratory, debate, and composition. These men, like the Greeks before them, knew self-governance could not work without citizens versed in the great ideas of the past and familiar with the principles of democracy and the rule of law. From that school, numerous leaders arose, including five who would sign the Declaration of Independence.
Along with those who attended Boston Latin, almost all the founding fathers received a classical education, including Thomas Jefferson. It was Jefferson, along with others, who argued strongly for establishing the public education system in the United States, for the primary purpose of ensuring students would be able to make wise personal and professional decisions in life.
While classical education has been around for thousands of years, it has only recently been commonly termed “classical”. Earlier, it was often called a “liberal” education, in the sense that it was based on a liberal arts philosophy. The term “liber” used in “liberal arts” comes from the Latin word for “free” – to distinguish it from a purely technical or vocational education. Over the thousands of years when it predominated, classical/liberal education produced some of the greatest minds of all time, including Archimedes, Dante, Da Vinci, Galileo, Newton, Columbus, Shakespeare, Alex de Tocqueville, John Adams, Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, Einstein, and Eudora Welty.
Today, schools are again providing this type of public education to students. The pedagogy remains similar to that of the past.
The grammar stage, elementary school, is where the foundation is laid for mastery of the rules of each subject. At the logic stage, in middle school, students are taught to evaluate arguments through specific logic classes, as well as through Socratic teaching of other subject areas. Finally, at the rhetoric stage, during high school, effective communication, both written and oral is perfected through methods typically including Socratic teaching, composition, debate, and philosophy courses.