What is a classical curriculum? Our classical liberal arts curriculum capitalizes on the natural stages of intellectual development to enhance academic performance and character growth. The classical curriculum is grounded in the traditional trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It cultivates the arts of reading, writing, listening, speaking, inquiring, and thinking.
A child's intellect is like a sponge, ready to soak in and retain an amazing quantity of factual information. Hence, the classical way of instruction seeks to cement the foundations of knowledge and truth. Memorization and learning by heart is naturally joyful at this stage. Both rudimentary forms of knowledge and skills such as arithmetic, phonics, penmanship, spelling, reading comprehension, and factual retention are critical to this stage of development. With a strong foundation, students are ready to launch into deeper and more complex concepts and truths.
As students enter adolescence, they become more independent and abstract in their thinking. Their sense of logic naturally improves with the evolution of their minds. In the middle stage, students are challenged to detect logical connections and fallacious reasoning. Classical instruction strives to utilize the normal tendency to debate at this stage, while showing students how to adequately support their claims with strong and truthful evidence.
The final stage of the classical liberal arts curriculum focuses on rhetoric. Students exercise all forms of reasoning to express themselves orally and in writing. The challenge is to discover the meanings and implications of various forms of knowledge, and to learn how to adequately support one's conclusions with reasonable evidence. Students study the classics and great books of western civilization, appropriate for their grade level.
The classical approach avoids teaching only to standardized tests. Instead, children are called to use their God given gifts to become well-rounded thinkers, capable of positively impacting any social environment in which they are called to serve. The ultimate purpose of a classical liberal arts curriculum is to give students this broad background: a grasp of the universality and objective reality of truth known through all disciplines and subjects studied in the curriculum. We aim to engage the whole mind, helping students apply all facets of their reasoning to natural, moral, and faith-based knowledge.
For more information, consider visiting the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.