Considering Grace Classical Academy?

As parents we all feel the God-given responsibility for our children’s education. To balance their spiritual, academic, and social needs with their safety and wellbeing is no simple matter. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. The following information is given to assist you in your decision process and to share a brief overview of what GCA has to offer your family.

GCA offers classes for grades K4-12. Our philosophy of education is based on a Biblical worldview in which Christianity is the lens through which all other subject matter is viewed. We are interdenominational from our board of directors to our teachers and student body. With this foundation, our classes are structured on the classical approach to education, emphasizing three basic phases of learning which are grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This is perhaps the oldest and most proven method of education known. Many of the founding fathers of our nation were educated using the classical approach.

We are committed to small class size and to an environment that is orderly and calm. We view academic excellence as each child achieving at his/her full potential. Each child is encouraged to compete against a standard of excellence and not against other students. Our goal is to create an environment where helping others be successful is the focus rather than being number one.

We welcome the opportunity for a personal visit with you and we would be glad to schedule a time for school observation.

What kind of education does Grace Classical Academy offer your son or daughter?

1. First and foremost, we are in existence because of our deep belief that all areas of knowledge begin with God, are held together by Him, and are revealed through God and His Word. It is impossible to divide knowledge into the secular and the sacred without leading down dead-end paths. Much of the world makes a distinction between subjects necessary for “success” in life and religion; this division is as dangerous as or more dangerous than some of the more obvious attacks on Christianity. It is this division that allows Christians to accept ways of living or doing business that completely contradict the Gospel of Christ without recognizing the contradiction. We believe that as parents and teachers, we are responsible to teach God’s principles when we walk, stand, sit, eat-whatever we do.

2. We have chosen to teach by the Classical method because it seems best-suited to the developmental pattern of students. The classical method is not the only educational method that works, but we use it because we have seen its effectiveness. Classical education is language-focused rather than image-focused. Working with language requires the mind to develop, forcing the brain to translate a symbol into a concept and a concept into an expression. Working with language also cultivates the imagination. The classical method is history-intensive as it follows a comprehensive sequential study of history. As Christians, we see the sovereignty of God’s hand throughout history. We believe history confirms the validity of His precepts expressed in His Word. Classical education also instills self-discipline as it trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions rather than simply accepting whatever anyone proclaims as truth. The classical method is systematic and orderly. As Christians, we recognize that God is a God of order and design and of cause and effect. Classical education is a method of teaching rather than a type of curriculum. Its goal is to teach the students the subject rather than to teach a subject in front of the students. Although these goals sound similar, the methods of reaching them and the end results are radically different. Classical education is based on the learning pattern of the trivium. See the explanation of the three developmental stages (the Trivium) at the end of this page.

3. We are a uniform school. We wear uniforms because they do away with many distractions that complicate the learning process. Uniforms also help the students learn to dress for a purpose out of respect for others rather than dressing solely for their own pleasure. Although many schools offer quality education without uniforms, we have chosen to wear uniforms. The concept of following uniform regulations should be acceptable before you consider placing a student in this school.

4. Because a Christian classical approach is different from other approaches, has high expectations, and actually begins at an early age, an older student may find it difficult to adjust as quickly as a younger student. Sometimes it takes up to one year to “get the feel” of classical education. Because of this adjustment period for older students, we do not accept any students in the high school years unless they themselves desire to learn by the Christian classical method. It would be counter-productive for a high school student to be forced to attend.

5. We encourage parental involvement in the education process. It is very helpful if you, as a parent, understand Christian classical education and are fully supportive of these objectives. Here are some suggested books on the subject for further information:

The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers
Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver
On Secular Education by Richard Weaver
Of Education by John Milton
On Christian Doctrine by Augustine
The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Gregory
Education, Christianity and the State by Gresham Machen
Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolf Flesch
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson
Repairing the Ruins edited by Douglas Wilson
Foundations of Christian Education by Louis Berkof &
Cornelius Van Til
The Paideia of God by Douglas Wilson
Excused Absence by Douglas Wilson

The Trivium

Grammar Stage: (usually the first four years of schooling) During this stage, the building blocks for education are laid. Students in this stage are excellent at memorizing information, facts, rules, vocabulary, descriptions, stories, math tables, and Bible verses. They are curious about everything. They believe the adults in their lives. They like repetition and structure but do not like change. They are trying to make sense of their world. This is not the time to teach them critical thinking or to make them do creative writing. They are not ready to think about abstract ideas. They would rather explore than experiment. In history, they understand stories and people best. They have not yet figured out complicated sequences of cause and effect. It is important to begin teaching them some of the beginning steps of writing such as copying, retelling, and rewriting.

Logic (or Dialectical) Stage: (usually the second four years of schooling) Students begin to want to know why something is true, how you know, how things work, where truths are applicable, etc. They want to know how to come up with good arguments, and they question everything. They become more analytical and can grasp abstract ideas. Their classes should be geared toward helping them learn the whys and the validity or fallacy of arguments. They begin to want to understand cause and effect. Toward the end of this stage, their ability to think abstractly helps them to begin algebra. In history, they would rather see cause and effect, chronology, and relationships than memorize facts. In science, they want to experiment. They are beginning to desire to learn on their own, but guidance is needed. The teacher should continue teaching parts of the sequence of original writing. They should be required to write many very short writings rather than long ones. It is important at this stage to begin to treat students more like adults and to be clear about what is expected.

Rhetoric Stage: (usually the third four years of schooling) Students have one driving desire: to learn how to express themselves as unique human beings. Therefore, they should take classes that teach them how to express their ideas with originality and force. If they do not learn how to express themselves well verbally (written or spoken), they will want to express their uniqueness in other less effective ways. They begin to analyze ideas in life and in literature. Grammar should be taught as a review. Diagramming should be more complex. They are now ready to do the whole sequence required to write original compositions. They are also able to do more abstract work in math and see its relationship to the tangible world. They need to be respected as young adults and expected to act like young adults.

Luke Shawhan