Taking young minds seriously

Curriculum

At Veritas, we believe parents should know what their children are learning (and not learning) in school. 

The parent is the child’s first teacher.  We take parents’ involvement in the education of their children very seriously.  Therefore, it is critical that parents be able to compare the academic options available to them.  To that end, you may view our preK-8th grade curriculum at any time.  The curriculum is subject to periodic review and revision by our headmaster and faculty.

Pre-K-8th Grade Curriculum pdf

 

In addition, the following is our organizational vision for the Academy.

An Organizational Vision

Veritas Classical Academy is a classical private school devoted to traditional learning and developing personal character. 

The mission of the Veritas Classical Academy is to train the minds and improve the hearts of young people through a rigorous, classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.

I.   The Grammar School:

Explicit teaching of the fundamentals.  The “grammar” of learning refers to the fundamentals of all skills and subjects, which are the sine qua non of all subsequent thought.  No so-called “higher-level thinking” or “critical thinking” is able to occur when young people are not thoroughly immersed in the grammar of reading, writing, speaking, and each academic discipline.  Memorization is the key at this stage of learning as the memory is the most powerful intellectual capacity of the child, and children, despite what the vast majority of contemporary “educators” tell you, love to memorize.

A.   Literacy

1)      Reading and Spelling: Taught through explicit phonics program.

a)      explicit teaching of phonics during discrete part of the day in addition to reading time via a phonics-only program.  No “blended approach” will be used.

b)      students required to “sound out” words based upon the rules of phonics, not to guess at them.

c)      spelling taught by applying phonetic rules, not just memorizing a list then forgetting the words the next week.

2)      Grammar: Taught prescriptively, esp. through diagramming

3)      Vocabulary: knowledge of the origin and meaning of words

a)      first, hiring articulate teachers well-versed in language (preference for hiring liberal-arts graduates in languages such as English, the classics, linguistics—not early elementary ed.) and not “talking down to children”; rather having them “come up” to an adult level

b)      word origins, esp. Latin and Greek roots

c)      extensive use of dictionaries; NO guesswork methods such as “inferring meaning from context.”  Students will live in their dictionaries.

d)     reading of classic literature rich in language vs. boring and mind-numbing stories not rich in language.  Fairy tales, fables, poetry, to include memorization of famous lines and poems.

e)      constant explaining of words to students.

4)      Requiring students to speak standard English rather than slang.  Teacher to correct ungrammatical language.

B.   Numeracy

1)      Learning and memorizing of math facts in all branches of arithmetic.  Mastery of math facts is essential.

2)      Learning of the concepts behind numerical relations.  E.g., What is a fraction?  What does it mean to multiply two threes? (2 X 3)  What is place value?  When students learn only the algorithm, they do not understand the mathematics behind the equation.

3)      No calculators.  Premature use of calculators is the death of numeracy or “number sense” in this country.  The human mind is the original calculator.  When human beings forget this, they become no more than appendages to their machines.

4)      To this end, the classical school will adopt a rigorous math program such as Singapore Math or Saxon Math or some combination of such programs.

C.   Cultural Literacy

1)      In addition to the ability to read, human beings must know core elements of their cultural heritage to attain full literacy.  To be able to think, people must have things to think about.  To this end, the classical school will embrace the principle of cultural literacy.  Cultural literacy refers to the fundamental articles of knowledge necessary to read, speak, and write in any field of inquiry and to communicate with fellow citizens.

2)      To this end, the classical school will use the Core Knowledge Sequence as its principal curriculum in grades K-8, which it will augment where appropriate.  The Core Knowledge Sequence outlines the basic curriculum in the subjects of English literature, history and geography, science, music, and art.

3)      The classical school will teach the Sequence with the rigor and depth originally envisioned by Professor E. D. Hirsch and will not, as is too often the case in so-called Core Knowledge schools, dumb down the curriculum by substituting “projects” for lessons, by using “workbooks” in place of the books in the literature part of the curriculum, and by teachers generally avoiding the need for teachers to do their own research in order to live up to the demands of the core.  The students will learn and memorize the elements of knowledge prescribed in the Core Sequence.  They will know, for example, when Columbus discovered America, what Crusoe did on his island, where the states and capitals are, who Michelangelo was and what he painted and sculpted, why the colonies declared Independence, how photosynthesis works, what Newton’s laws of motion are, and so on.

4)      Just as calculators will not be used in teaching mathematics, so the attitude that “students don’t need to know facts . . . they shouldn’t rely on rote memory . . . they can always look it up” will be anathema at the classical school.  The minds of our students will be storehouses well-stocked with knowledge, and that knowledge will be ordered and re-supplied daily.

D.   Latin and other Foreign Languages

1)      The classical school will begin formal Latin in the elementary school at a grade to be determined.  The teaching of Latin will extend beyond the teaching of Latin and Greek roots and require instruction in Latin grammar and Latin-English, English-Latin translation by a trained Latinist.

2)      The teaching of Latin is an integral part of the classical school’s rigorous literacy curriculum.  Latin provides insight into the meaning of over half of English words.  Its complex grammar enables students to gain a critical knowledge of English sentence structure.  Latin offers a bridge to learning other languages.  And knowledge of Latin allows one to achieve the heights of English literacy since so many Latin phrases still find currency in modern speech: e.g. (exempli gratia), ex post facto, ex officio, id est (i.e.), ex nihilo, ibid. (ibidem), gravitas, E pluribus unum, A.D. (Anno Domini), homo sapiens, et cetera.  So hold the post mortem!  Latin is far from a dead language.

3)      Based upon strategic considerations—the chief one being the ability of the students and the extent to which they need English remediation in the early grades—the classical school may teach a modern foreign language in the grammar school as an elective or as a required course.  If the school offers a foreign language, the language will be taught predominantly by the immersion method.  That is, much of the course will be conducted in the language as taught by a native or near-native speaker.  The general practice of hiring supposed foreign language teachers who do not have themselves genuine fluency and turning the course into mostly “culture days” where little in the way of the language is spoken will be avoided at all costs.

E.   Moral Literacy

1)      The classical school will inculcate good character in its students by maintaining order and decorum in the classrooms, holding students accountable for their assignments and personal conduct, and explicitly teaching them the fundamentals of good character.  The components of the discipline plan will be made clear elsewhere.  At this juncture we address character as seen in the curriculum.

2)      A set of core virtues will be adopted school-wide whose purpose is to build students’ moral vocabulary and thereby point them to the character traits necessary to live a good and happy life.  The virtues will be explained to students in detail, and the discipline and decorum of the school will be based upon these virtues being practiced.  Virtues are not “values.”  Virtues are excellences in character, rooted in nature, whose cultivation is necessary to live well and happily in civil society.

3)      In addition to cultivating a moral culture that will pervade the classrooms and the halls and thereby create an environment of “positive peer pressure,” the school will teach character through the curriculum.  The great stories of the Western and American literary tradition, the biographies of heroes and the achievements of peoples, and the art and music of our tradition that disclose the realm of the beautiful: these noble examples serve as shepherds to the human soul.  The moral sense of young people naturally attaches itself to the good—as long as the good is clearly shown to them and admired.  Without such examples to admire, young people in our culture too easily become cynical and jaded.  The students of the classical school will have not only their minds expanded but also their souls enriched by becoming witnesses to the great moral efforts of human beings.

F.   Traditional Teaching Methods

1)      The methods of teaching practiced by the teachers of the classical school will be traditional rather than progressive.  That means that teachers will be required to impart knowledge to students.  The school does not hold to the modern fiction that teachers are merely “facilitators,” that students will somehow stumble their way into learning simply by following their inclinations, or that so-called “student-centered learning” results in anything other than the mutual sharing of ignorance by children who know nothing about the subject at hand.  As a result, “project-based learning” will not take place.

2)      More than being against modern progressive methods, traditional learning holds that only knowledgeable teachers can be effective teachers; that the core subjects are intrinsically interesting and important and therefore need not be disguised by Mickey Mouse projects or dumbed-down to appeal to young people; that human minds long to know things and that young minds often prove the most inquisitive; that children and young people have the mental capacities for learning; that the memory is arguably the strongest of these capacities and must be exercised regularly—as would any muscle—so as to get stronger; that learning discrete facts about the world around them enables young people to begin to understand that world and thereby gain insight and confidence, thus inviting further inquiry; and that knowledge of real subjects is both a marketable commodity and valuable for its own sake.

3)      Consequently, the teachers of the classical school will foremost be knowledgeable men and women, preferably trained in the arts and sciences rather than in progressive pedagogy.

4)      Even the classrooms will reflect the traditional methods used by the school.  For example, students will not sit in “pods,” whereby students supposedly learn from each other when doing projects but in reality do not face the teacher, do not learn a lesson central to all (because one is not being taught), and spend the bulk of the time talking about nothing related to the class.  In the school’s classrooms, students will listen and watch attentively as teachers impart lessons from the front of the class.  In short, teaching and learning will take place.

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 II. The Middle School:

We will continue to work on the programs begun in grammar school, while going into greater depth.  The students will have an increased capacity for logic in their thinking, speaking, and writing.  At the same time, the middle school presents much greater challenges in student behavior.  To guide students through the storm of adolescence, self-government will be the leading virtue taught and expected.

A.   Continuing to Work on Literacy

1)      It would be wonderful if all the students entering the middle school possessed solid literacy.  Experience has shown, however, that in this kind of school many students, particularly those coming from other schools, will require remediation in reading, spelling, and particularly writing.

2)      To this end, the school will provide a robust remedial literacy program in the middle grades to work with students who have not reached the appropriate grade level in reading.

3)      The remedial program will, as in the elementary school, lead with phonics.  These lessons will be conducted largely during times in the student’s schedule that do not conflict with core courses and may be substituted for an elective or other non-core course as determined by the principal.

4)      Other avenues may also be used to immerse students in language, such as listening to books on tape, but never at the expense of the instruction in phonics-based reading and spelling.

5)      Further, even for students not in reading remediation, emphasis on solid literacy (reading complex texts, spelling, grammar, writing, immersion in rich vocabulary) will continue.  The teachers of all disciplines will emphasize correct speaking and writing, not just the English teachers.

B.   Cultural Literacy Continued

1)      Cultural literacy remains a strong priority in the classical school’s middle school as students are introduced to new topics and new books.  For example, the students will not have yet studied the World Wars and will have to learn the “grammar” of those important events, even as they are able to enter into a deeper level of inquiry about the causes and consequences than they would have been able to in the grammar school.  Moreover, there will always be new students to the school who have not directly studied the basics of a given subject, and young people (indeed all of us) have a tendency to forget things.  Therefore review is always important.  Nonetheless, the common practice of reviewing a thing to death without moving on to new learning (the pretense of keeping busy in many schools) will be avoided.

2)      Core Knowledge will remain the curriculum for the core and elective courses through the eighth grade.  Nonetheless, certain aspects of the CK sequence in these grades may be altered or augmented in keeping with the practice of many schools using that curriculum in the middle school.  For example, the literature part of the sequence may be enriched with more books, though the vast majority of literary works in the sequence will be read.

3)      Teachers can never underestimate “what our Xth graders don’t know.”  Therefore teachers at all levels must ensure that students are directly taught the basic vocabulary of any subject so that the insiders’ references to concrete articles of knowledge that any given author assumes of his audience are not ignored.  Teachers, too, must often “look things up” when preparing lessons.

C.   Latin Continued

1)      The study of Latin begun in the grammar school will continue in the middle school.  The practice of changing classes in the middle school will allow different levels of Latin to be offered according to students’ previous background or mastery of the material in the elementary school.

2)      Whereas Latin in the elementary school may begin as a help to vocabulary and the mastery of common Latin phrases, and therefore not necessarily taught by a Latinist, formal Latin in the middle school will be taught through a recognized Latin program by a trained classicist.  Commonly used programs in the middle-school years are Ecce Romani and Cambridge Latin.  Teachers will augment with more rigorous grammar than those texts offer.

D.   Greater Logic

1)      While many of the programs begun in the grammar school will continue into the middle grades, what distinguishes students in the middle school is their greater capacity for logic.  Generally speaking, logic refers to the making of plausible and consistent arguments based on sound reasoning from first principles.

2)      Young people in the early teen years are an argumentative lot.  Their tendency is to argue without reason or principle: to make claims based on raw assertion, untutored feelings, unexamined mantras of the culture, and argument for argument’s sake.  The task of the middle school, then, is to introduce students to first principles in every discipline and to require students to argue based on evidence and sound reasoning.  Therefore, the common practice of most schools, to allow students to argue with little or no evidence to back them up and to stray away from the subject or the book at hand, will be strenuously avoided.  “Where is your evidence?” will be the question constantly asked by teachers in every discipline.

E.   Civic Education

1)      Civic education, teaching concerning the political order and the individual’s rights and responsibilities in that order, begins, of course, in the elementary school.  Students will learn through American history the basic facts that led to the creation of the American republic and about Americans’ subsequent efforts to maintain liberty and justice under the rule of law.  Further, they will be taught the first principles of our constitutional order through reciting the Pledge and attention to national symbols.

2)      In the middle school, however, students will in the eighth grade begin a more complete study of the Constitution of the United States as called for by the Core Knowledge Sequence.  In fact, this portion of the history sequence will be made more robust by allotting more time for the Constitution and by interpreting the remainder of the eighth-grade history course in light of Founding principles.  Considerable attention will be devoted to the manner of citizen the Founders envisioned and consequently to the rights and responsibilities required for successful self-government.

F.   Moral Education

1)      Just as the students’ civic education will dwell on the principles of self-government, so the prevailing theme for teaching good character will be that of individual self-government.

2)      To this end, the headmaster or other designated administrator will pay special attention to the middle school students: both in order to ensure proper discipline in the school and to teach the positive aspects of character.  Separate lectures on the core virtues may be offered and required.

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III. The High School:

The foundations of learning having been laid in the grammar school and middle school, students will be able to read much more demanding books, think more clearly about complex problems, and speak and write more effectively.  In high school humanities classes (English and history), students will explore the classics of the Western and American tradition.  In sciences and mathematics, students will learn the principal branches of those inquiries into the natural world.  In the fine arts, students will continue to study classics of music, painting, and sculpture, while working on their own performance.  In addition, foreign languages will be required.  Character will be engrained in students by their studying and practicing the virtues.

A.   Literature

1)      Students will take four years of literature.  These classes will include ancient Greece and Rome, British, American, and modern literature.

2)      The classes will follow the “great books” approach.  That is, complete works of great literature will be read, not snippets from anthologies and only those books that have attained the status of classics.  The books will be thoroughly read and discussed.  The curriculum will not be a race through the all the Western canon just to say that the books have been “read.”  Rather, the principle of “less is more” will be used so that students will have a deep knowledge of, for example, two or three Greek plays or two or three Shakespearean plays, not a superficial knowledge of ten of them.  The slower pace will challenge the stronger students to become more critical readers and allow the weaker students to keep up with the discussion.

3)      In literature, the Socratic method will govern most discussions.  The Socratic method is not a random asking of questions by a teacher who hardly knows the text himself or herself.  Rather, it is a systematic questioning of the students about key passages and themes that requires students to think carefully about the story and to consider the insights that story offers into human nature.  Foremost, great literature will be seen as moral, that is, showing the decisions characters must make in certain settings and crises that are either virtuous or vicious, just or unjust, and that consequently lead either to greatness or infamy, happiness or misery.  Though the lessons may not be simplistic (no great story is), all great literature is moral, from the Iliad to the Aeneid, to Othello, to Huckleberry Finn, to To Kill a Mockingbird.

4)      As a result, great literature at the classical school will be studied philosophically.  The common practice of taking the life out of stories through two-bit, sophomoric literary criticism (e.g., plot structures—rising action, falling action, denouement), analysis of literary devices (e.g., foreshadowing, change of scene), and big themes (man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society) will be discountenanced with extreme distaste.  These methods that have been used in schools for now more than half a century have left two generations of Americans wholly ignorant of literature they have supposedly read.  No author—no Twain, no Melville, no Shakespeare, and certainly no Homer—ever wrote a masterpiece so that millions of school children centuries later could stuff their stories into preconceived and artificial boxes while remaining utterly silent on the epic events and the awe-inspiring virtues and vices of their great characters.  Consider this: when is the last time in a high-school literature class the word magnanimity was used?  As in, Shakespeare’s Henry V showed great magnanimity in not punishing the soldiers who grumbled before the battle on St. Crispan’s Day.  For that matter, when was the last time love was discussed and understood?  Or hate?  Or revenge?  Or piety?  At the classical school, literature will be discussed as it has been written.  Students will come to understand love and hate, victory and defeat, justice and injustice, beauty and ugliness, temperance and intemperance, courage and cowardice, glory and shame, and magnanimity and pusillanimity—by reading and wrestling with the great stories and characters of Western literature.  Thus they will gain insights into their own complex human souls and—we hope—be inspired to be great as well as good.

5)      The actual books to be read in the literature curriculum will be chosen by the headmaster and the teachers.

B.   Composition

1)      In addition to the attention given to writing in literature classes, the school will require at least a semester of formal composition in the ninth grade or in subsequent grades for students new to the school.

2)      The class will solidify students’ knowledge of grammar, seek to fix the problems that frequently mar students’ writing, and offer an opportunity to put together the elements or writing they have acquired throughout their literature, Latin, and grammar study in the elementary and middle schools.

3)      Foremost, the class will teach students how to write a compelling “thesis-driven essay,” that is, a formal paper that makes a point and effectively employs language, marshals evidence, and orders an argument to make that point.  This class may assist with the writing of papers from other classes.

4)      Due to the different levels of writing among students coming out of the middle school and also coming from other schools, several levels of composition will be offered.  Students who begin in a remedial composition class will have to take further composition as recommended by the literature teachers.  Likely, there will be three classes: remedial, Comp I, and Comp II, with the hope that stronger students will make it through Comp II and all students will at least go through Comp I.

C.   Rhetoric and Logic

1)      Rhetoric and logic classes may be offered and possibly required of all students based upon the determination of the headmaster or designee.

2)      Such classes will also adopt the classical approach.  For example, a rhetoric class will not be conducted as most “public speaking” classes are these days, with students declaiming wildly on any topic under the sun with no structure to their remarks.  Rather, students will study the classic speeches, from Greece and Rome to those in the American political tradition.  Students will also learn the formal methods of constructing a speech, the use of argument and counter-argument in debate, how to employ both humor and beautiful language, the effects of analogy and story-telling, in short, the methods of the great speakers of the past.

D.   History

1)      Students will take four years and one semester of history.

2)      History will be a distinct class and not taught as a combined humanities class.

3)      Though textbooks may be used to give students the background narrative of any historical epoch, the course will mostly be taught through the study of primary source documents.

4)      The specific curriculum will be determined by the headmaster and teachers.  The sequence will likely run as follows: classical history (freshmen); Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment (sophomore); American, 1607-1900 (junior); American, 1900-present (first semester, senior); Modern: French Revolution—Cold War (both semesters, senior).

5)      The overarching principle governing the study of history will be human beings’ attempts to achieve both freedom and justice in a constitutional regime, in short, self-government.  Further, history will explore human beings’ great conflicts and achievements.  A great deal of attention will be given to the Western and American political, religious, intellectual, cultural, and economic traditions.  At stake are the questions: “What is the just regime?” “What is the good citizen?”  “What is human happiness?”  “What peoples have achieved the most and why?”  “What leads to the rise of a given people?”  “What leads to decline?”  “What have been the effects of good and great people (heroes) on history?”  “What have been the effects of bad people (villains)?”  “What did it mean to be a Greek?”  “A Roman?”  “A Medieval man/woman?”  “A Renaissance man or woman?”  “What is Enlightenment?”  “What is Awakening?”  “‘What is an American, this new man?’”

E.   Mathematics

1)      Students will take four years of mathematics in the high school.

2)      Students will be put in classes according to ability rather than grade level.  Thus, students who come into the school needing remediation, students who need more time to master a certain branch of mathematics, and at the same time students who are particularly gifted in math and wish to take higher-level courses can all work at the appropriate levels.

3)      Beyond the level of pre-algebra, mathematics will be taught in sequence, with each year given to a particular branch of math: algebra, geometry, Algebra II, trigonometry and pre-calculus, calculus.  The school, then, will not offer courses in “integrated math.”  Students may be allowed to “double-up” in math with the approval of the headmaster.

4)      As with the other subjects, math will be taught in a traditional manner.  In addition to acquiring the necessary understanding of “math facts,” students will also learn the “real math” behind the algorithm.  In other words, students will not simply perform the various operations without understanding what those operations really mean.  Thus, a theoretical or “conceptual” approach will be taken, enabling students to understand mathematics as do real mathematicians.  This approach, which used to be common in America, is now standard in Asian countries.

5)      In order to ensure that students have actually mastered each level of math, the school may require a performance examination to be administered at the end of the year to determine which students may pass to the next level.

6)      As in the elementary and middle schools, most math classes in the high school will not allow the use calculators.  There may be exceptions in the higher levels (beyond Algebra II), provided the students are not allowed to rely on calculators as a crutch.

F.   Science

1)      Students will take three years of science in the high school and be encouraged to take a fourth.

2)      As with mathematics, the classes will be based upon the study of one branch of science per year, the usual sequence being biology, chemistry, physics.  Therefore hodgepodge science courses, such as “physical science,” will be avoided.  The exception to this rule will be for students entering the high school without a foundation in science, as that provided by the Core Knowledge sequence.  In such cases, a remedial science course may be constructed to give students the foundation they need to take biology and chemistry.

3)      In the sciences, particularly physics which relies so heavily on a strong math background, the school may find it necessary to have advanced and regular sections.  Nonetheless, the non-advanced classes will still be rigorous and exceed district/state standards in those subjects.

4)      While making sure that students master the essential facts of the sciences, teachers will still employ to some degree a conceptual approach to the study of science, often introducing a topic with an “inquiry-based” lesson or experiment.  Students should gain a genuine understanding of the physical world, not just memorize a few terms for a test and then promptly forget them.  (Though we do not by any means intend to denigrate the memory.)  Thus the goal is for students to be able to explain such complex scientific ideas and processes as genetic transmission, chemical bonding, atomic theory, force, and so on.

5)      The fourth year will be reserved for higher levels of science such as second-year biology, chemistry, or physics.  Other semester-long electives, such as astronomy, may be offered as well.  With the permission of the headmaster, students may “double-up” in the sciences earlier than the senior year.

G.   Latin

1)      Students will be required to take at least one more semester of Latin in the high school, or a full year if the student has not been in the middle school.  Normally, the course will be taken in the first year of high school.

2)      For students coming out of the classical school’s middle school, the normal pattern will be to take an advanced Latin course with the goal of getting to the level of translating original Latin.  Still, there will be a need for a comprehensive review of Latin grammar.  In the high school, this review will be achieved through the reading of a more demanding Latin textbook than the one used in the middle school, most likely Wheelock.

3)      The goal of the Latin curriculum is, in part, to have students able to read at least some Virgil in the original as they are reading the Aeneid in translation in the freshman classical literature course.

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 IV. Fine Arts:

1)      In the grammar and middle schools, music and art are an integral part of the core curriculum.

2)      In high school, students will continue to study and perform in the arts, most likely in elective activities, though the school will also have a fine arts requirement.  Music courses will include choir and orchestra (once the budget allows).  Art will include drawing, painting, sculpting, and art history.

3)      As in the K-8 curriculum, effort will be made to teach students how the arts are, on the one hand, a reflection of the philosophy and ethos of a given age and, on the other, a striving of human beings to reach the realm of the beautiful, and thus providing transcendent and timeless lessons to human beings.  Therefore, while technique and composition in either music performance or painting and sculpture are important matters to study, students should explore the overall theme and meaning of any work of art or music.  For example, what does the Sistine Chapel Ceiling tell us not only about Michelangelo’s or Renaissance technique but also about the nature of man qua man?  What insight do we gain about the human spirit from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony?

 V. Government:

1)      Civic education is fundamental to the mission of the classical school.  At least one semester of government will be taught in the high school, normally in the junior year, while other electives in political philosophy may be offered as well.

2)      As in the eighth-grade civics class, the government class in high school will be centered on the Constitution.  Since the students in high school will be at a much higher reading level, the class will, in addition to the Constitution, read supporting documents such as debates from the Constitutional Convention, The Federalist, important Supreme Court cases, and the speeches of American political figures reflecting upon the Constitution.  The point of departure for the class, though, is the axiom that man is a being designed to live in a polis, or a “political animal.”  Human beings come together to live.  The pursuit of living well together—with liberty and justice under law—is the design of self-government.

3)      Particular attention will be given to the “original intent” of the Framers of the Constitution by seeking to understand why they created a federal government with a separation of powers; limits upon the executive; a bicameral legislature with different terms and only one branch derived directly from the people; a system known as federalism with national, state, and local governments having different spheres of action; a list of enumerated powers; a bill of rights, and so on.  In contrast to how government is taught in most schools in the country—under the assumption that what the Founders created was fine for back then but irrelevant today —this government class will seek to know the Founders’ views first and foremost (allowing that whatever they “got wrong” was and is subject to amendment) and explore how much of modern American history has been the attempt to get out from under the rule of law provided in the Constitution.  And if that is so, then on what basis do Americans govern themselves—and is it good?

4)      As in the history classes, a textbook may be used, particularly in order to familiarize students with the nuts and bolts of American politics (how a bill becomes a law, the party system, etc.).  Yet the course as a whole will be taught through original sources.

 VI. Economics:

1)      Students will take one semester of economics, normally in the junior year.

2)      The economics class will explore the basic principles of free markets: supply and demand, the division of labor, pricing, and incentives.  Aspects of both micro and macroeconomics will be taught.  The course may employ a textbook but will not be driven by a textbook approach.  The fundamental idea behind the class is that man is an economic being: he is disposed to invent, build, and sell things in order to better his environment and improve his lot in life.  Human beings naturally enter into market relations as they do political relations.  They are economic animals as well as political animals.

3)      The relations between the market and the political regime will be explored, taking up the important question of what human efforts and enterprises should be performed by government and which should be performed by the free market.  Classic theorists, such as Adam Smith, may be employed to answer such questions.  In other words, the economics class will in no small part be taught in the spirit of the older inquiry of “political economy.”

4)      Just as in government class, the perspective of the Founders, and in this instance the era of the Founding Fathers (classical theory), will serve as the guiding light of the class.  Keynesian economics will not be the guiding principle.  While theorists such as Smith are harder to read, a more recent book such as Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson may be employed.

 VII. Moral Philosophy:

1)      Students will take a semester-long class introducing them to the formal study of morality and right conduct.

2)      The basic premise of this class is that man is a moral being: man, despite passions and appetites that often take him down the road to ruin, has a conscience (or a moral sense) that urges him to live virtuously.  Indeed, living virtuously is the source of happiness, and happiness the reward of living virtuously.

3)      In order to teach this primary lesson, the moral philosophy class will not be the typical ethics class found in colleges (a survey of all the philosophers and how they supposedly disagree with each other, with no attempt to embrace virtue as such).  This class will instead lay the philosophical foundation for living virtuously and show instances of virtue in action.  This is the approach taken by Professor Pojman at West Point for many years and by Christina Hoff Sommers.

4)      The class will not use a textbook but work through sources that shed light on the desirability of right living or the consequences of wrong living.  While some of the readings may be from works of philosophy, others will be from literature and history.  The end will be to show students how human beings attain both happiness and respectability when they live according to conscience and the highest ideas of the good life and how the anarchy of passion and appetite does not lead to genuine happiness or human excellence.  Students will see through noble examples in literature and history how human beings practice the virtues.  They will also learn how virtue should be the governing force in human relations, whether in friendship, marriage, fatherhood and motherhood, leadership, business, politics, and so on.

5)      The end and purpose of the course is to teach young people how to delight in doing the good and to arm them with the arguments needed to combat the moral relativist sophisms of our culture and the modern age.  The currently popular “values clarification” and “moral reasoning” courses that invite young people vehemently to argue about controversial moral subjects such as abortion and euthanasia while having no moral foundation will not be used.

 VIII. Extracurricular Activities:

1)      The classical school will encourage a robust extracurricular life in music, drama, leadership, community service, public speaking, chess, clubs, team sports, etc.  These activities, however, will occur after school hours, not during the day.

2)      Choir and orchestra will be considered a part of the fine arts curriculum and therefore will be taught during the school day as the budget allows.  Show choirs, chamber ensembles, and other select groups will hold practices after school.

3)      Students must maintain a sufficiently high G.P.A. (as determined by school policy and monitored by the headmaster) in order to take part in extracurricular activities.

IX. The Senior Thesis:

1)      Every senior will write and deliver orally a senior thesis on a topic of his or her choosing that emerges from the curriculum.  A satisfactory performance on the senior thesis will be required for graduation.

2)      Because the assignment is writing intensive, it will most likely be anchored in the senior literature class.  Nonetheless, the student’s thesis may concentrate on books, events, or themes that draw on any of the core courses.  The broad questions the thesis will seek to address are “What is a human being?”; “What is a citizen?”; “What is justice?”; “Who is a hero?”; “What is the beautiful?”; “What is the good life?”  These are big questions for teenagers to be considering, teenagers who are far from original thinkers or as yet experienced enough in life to give definitive answers.  Thus, the students will be invited to adopt a particular perspective on one or more of these questions based on the books, events, ideas, heroes, and human achievements that most moved and provoked them.  The students will, then, be able to speak through Homer or Shakespeare or Milton or the Founding Fathers or Lincoln, et al.

3)      Thus, the senior thesis will be looked upon as a culmination of a classical school education and the rite of passage to a life of virtue and self-government.

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