To Live Free, To Live Well.
What is a classical education?
“Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to, convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787
Classical education is a liberal arts education. “Liberal,” in this case, means “free.” Classical education prepares young men and women to live in freedom and independence, and not in a servile existence. The primary art for which we are preparing is the art of living well. Job skills are a by-product and not the end of classical education. The end is a virtuous young adult who lives not with historical or cultural amnesia, but rather with a sense of who she is in the context of human history. Classically trained students will be well qualified for future studies in law, medicine, business, engineering, technology, theology or any other professional or vocational pursuit. We aim for our students to know the story of our country, and to read and write with facility. We are assured that a young graduate who is able to use her knowledge of the past to make good decisions in the present and to plan wisely for the future will be in high demand and prepared to flourish.
Classical education requires teachers who are trained in academic disciplines (literature, history, sciences, mathematics, etc.), and not just in “education.” Naturally, classical school teachers love to spend time with children, are kind-hearted, and know how to manage a classroom. But subject matter expertise is required. Our vision is to create a faculty that is academically gifted and in full pursuit of intellectual interests, because these habits tend to positively influence students who are by nature looking for leaders to follow.
Chronological Study of History
The Classical Academy approaches the study of history chronologically. We break the history of mankind into a 4 year cycle, which repeats itself 3 times. The guide for our study is The Story of the World, Volumes 1 through 4, by Susan Wise Bauer. Our teachers enhance understanding using primary source and original documents whenever possible.
- 1st, 5th, and 9th grades study Ancient History using The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times as the guide.
- 2nd, 6th, and 10th grades study the Middle Ages using The Story of the World, Volume 2: The Middle Ages as the guide.
- 3rd, 7th, and 11th grades study the Age of Exploration using The Story of the World, Volume 3: Early Modern Age as the guide.
- 4th, 8th, and 12th grades study the Modern Age using The Story of the World, Volume 4: The Modern Age as the guide.
The goal of our history cycle is to lay a foundation and then learn at a greater depth each time the cycle is repeated.
CAL students read literature selected from the best of the Western Canon. CAL has selected timeless classics which teach ageless virtues and speak to the human condition. Our literature is designed to parallel our student’s study of history. As students are studying a particular time period, the classical literature corresponds to that same era. The aim is to create a cohesive learning environment where learning in one subject enhances the learning of other subjects.
Reading, Writing, and Spelling
Literacy Essentials is a multi-sensory, brain-based approach for teaching explicit phonics, reading and language arts. Click here to view supporting research.
This explicit phonics program is comprehensive. Our students work hard in the classroom learning to read and spell. Some parents have expressed interest in helping their child at home or over the summer. Below are some resources to assist you.
Below are 3 video links that show the sounds each phonogram card makes. Please watch the videos to ensure that you pronounce these correctly, the same way the students are learning in class. These videos are extremely helpful for the parent, and students should not practice unless you have taken the time to watch these videos. It would only confuse them to hear them differently than they are hearing at school.
Core Knowledge offers a hands-on approach to scientific inquiry with emphasis on fundamentals.
Prima Latina uses a clear and systematic format to introduce Latin to young students. It teaches important English and Latin grammar concepts as well as vocabulary, sayings, and constellations.
Grade Level Standards
The grade level outlines below provide the standards for each grade and the topics in each core subject that will be learned by the students during the course of the year. The standards are designed to provide an overview of content and subject matter. Teachers will continue to strive for excellence in their students and teach toward the aim of mastery.
Click on the links below to view CAL’s standards for each grade.
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you can see.”Winston Churchill
We at CAL take Churchill’s words to heart. We believe that the more one knows and understands about history, the more one is equipped to comprehend the events of the present, enabling one to make sound decisions for the future.
To aid us in that objective, CAL focuses on Trip Education. Each year, several grades will participate in an in-depth field trip centered on the historical study of that class. These specialized trips are designed to provide experiences for students to deepen their understanding and increase their appreciation of their world and their American culture. Trips will take students back to ancient cultures of the past, to cathedrals of the medieval era, to battlefields of the Civil War, to homes of our Founding Fathers, and more.
Not only do our students have the opportunity to experience these trips, but so do their families*. CAL’s Trip Education Program invites the families of each student to join in the learning journey, giving parents and students the opportunity to learn side by side. CAL recognizes these rich educational journeys as life-changing experiences for both the student and family. Together, both student and family will learn volumes of history through CAL’s Trip Education Program.
These experiences further enhance the classroom learning as well. CAL students return to the classroom with renewed respect for people of times past and a dramatically increased love for their country. Additionally, our students, having touched the fringes of history through these trips, have a larger investment in their own learning. They begin to understand the larger context of history, and more importantly, their place and role within that sphere.
Travel destinations may include Cahokia Mounds (IL), Medieval Knights (Chicago), Renaissance Fair (STL), Conner Prairie (IN), Lewis and Clark Historical Site (STL), Springfield, IL, Gettysburg, PA, Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
In time, we expect to include trips to Italy, England, Greece, Germany to visit sites from D-Day, and more!
Articles on Classical Education
What kind of a school is CAL?
By T. O. Moore, Principal, Atlanta Classical Academy, Atlanta, GA
*Adapted with permission
The Missing Link in Reading Comprehension
Core Knowledge: How Do We Know This Works
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Reading Comprehension Requires Knowledge – of Words and the World
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Books on Classical Education
Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do About It, Rudolf Flesch
Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong: and What We Can Do About It, William Kilkpatrick
The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, Leigh A. Bortins
A Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver DeMille
Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
The Making of Americans: Democracy and our Schools, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
The Schools We Need, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer
The Seven Laws of Teaching, John Milton Gregory
The Lost Tools of Learning, Dorothy Sayers