Ave Maria Academy uses a Classical, Catholic curriculum.
Why Classical? This is the learning of the patriarchs of Western Civiliations. It teaches more than basic skills and competency, it teaches method. Today’s society has lost the tools of learning; Classical Education provides the tools to make our students independent thinkers. They learn the art of learning.
Classical Education is systematic. It develops virtue and provides the means for students to join in the “Great Conversation” of our classical philosophers. It integrates subjects and provides a unity between History, Science and Literature. History is the center, with other subjects linking to it. Classical Education is language focused, and great literature is a tool for learning.
The three stages (Trivium) of Classical Education are:
- Grammar (Observations / Memorization)
- Logic (Logical Organization / “Why”)
- Rhetoric (Clear Expression)
History, as the center, is divided into four time periods, that are repeated in each of the Trivium:
- Middle Ages
The following is from https://welltrainedmind.com/a/classical-education/
What is Classical Education?
by Susan Wise Bauer
Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
The first years of schooling are called the “grammar stage” — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — what we commonly think of as grades one through four — the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.
By fifth grade, a child’s mind begins to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, the “Logic Stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.
A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. The logic of writing, for example, includes paragraph construction and learning to support a thesis; the logic of reading involves the criticism and analysis of texts, not simple absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method.
The final phase of a classical education, the “Rhetoric Stage,” builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language. Students also begin to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts them; these are the years for art camps, college courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training.
A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).
Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can “sit back” and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work.
A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.
But that isn’t all. To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn’t studied in isolation; it’s learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church’s relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man’s understanding of the divine.
This is easier said than done. The world is full of knowledge, and finding the links between fields of study can be a mind-twisting task. A classical education meets this challenge by taking history as its organizing outline — beginning with the ancients and progressing forward to the moderns in history, science, literature, art and music….
For more information about Classical Education, see:
“The Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer http://www.welltrainedmind.com/classical-education/
“The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers http://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/sayers-lost/sayers-lost-00-h.html
“Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum” by Laura Berquist http://www.homeschoolchristian.com/allabout/interviews/interviewberquist.php
Curriculum at Ave Maria Academy
For Elementary and Middle School, classes consist of:
- Excellence in Writing
- Religion (one day per week)
- Art (one day per week)
- Math (For lower grades, Math instructions using the “Dimensions” program is offered. For grades where math instruction is not offered, students are provided a math study hall and are asked to bring their own math to complete.)
For High School, classes consist of:
- Great Books (this is a combination of History and Literature)
- Logic / Rhetoric (one day per week)
- Religion (one day per week)