Taking young minds seriously


Who are your teachers?

If you answered the question with Judy Moody, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashians then we have a lot of ground to cover.  If, however, you answered Ben Franklin, Frederick Douglass, or Jane Austen then you are well on your way to appreciating classical education.  Just the mention of William Shakespeare makes some people cringe, but whether you realize it or not, Shakespeare remains more relevant today than Beyonce.  Consider, the many common phrases still in use thanks to the Bard, such as “In a pickle,” from The Tempest; “It’s all Greek to me,” from Julius Caesar; and “Love is blind,” from The Merchant of Venice.  Unfortunately, while these phrases remain in our vernacular their origins are unknown to most.

Classical education seeks to pass on the wisdom and knowledge of one generation to another.  It is important to study Ben Franklin because he is not only a Founding Father but also the father of innovation.  We study Frederick Douglass because he is a model of justice in the face of cruelty.  We learn from Jane Austen the beauty of language and a shared cultural legacy with our British cousins.  We study Euclid to learn to reason well.  We read Washington’s words to appreciate the prudence with which he led our new nation.  We accompany the heroes of The Iliad to learn to emulate true courage.  The goal of classical education is not to teach that which is old because it is old but because it has intrinsic value.  Knowledge for its own sake is a laudable goal.

Classical educators teach children not only what is appropriate but what they are craving to learn given their stages of mental development.  It is a traditional, time-tested tripartite process focused on the training of young minds. As part of a classical curriculum, students pass through three stages of academic development. The early years (grades 1-4) are dedicated to laying a foundation of knowledge for more advanced study.  In this stage, young children tend to mimic and memorize, so these tools are used to teach language and grammar.  In the middle years (grades 5-8) students learn to think through arguments logically.  Students in this stage are eager to challenge assumptions and so we begin the study of logic at this time.  During the later years (grades 9-12), when students are yearning to express themselves both orally and in writing, we teach them rhetoric.  This three stage process of learning is known as the Trivium, and it has been producing the great minds of the Western Tradition since Antiquity.

Aristotle, Newton, and Mozart will ingrain in our students a desire to seek knowledge for the rest of their lives and an appreciation for their cultural inheritance.  The academic content students seek to master at Veritas will prepare them for the career of their choice, but more importantly, for their responsibility as citizen leaders.

Truth Beauty Goodness