Instructional Philosophy–Secondary School

The aim of classical education is to produce the free or liberated person. The greatest thinkers throughout the ages, including Archimedes, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Shakespeare, and Thomas Jefferson, all had one thing in common—a classical education.

Classical Education

A classical education represents a return to a time-tested educational philosophy that was standard in the United States and the western world until the early 20th century. It is the process of training the mind of the student to better confront the problems common to modern man. Our classical education program works to achieve this end through:

  • Implementing a systematic, thoughtful, and integrated approach to learning
  • Focusing on core academic subjects, teaching directly from original documents and the great works of the western world
  • Addressing the “great questions” common to all periods of history
  • Following a pattern of education known as the Trivium 

The Trivium

There are three stages comprising the Trivium: grammar, logic (dialectic), and rhetoric.

Grammar Stage: Elementary School–students learn facts and basics, which build the foundation of knowledge.

Logic (Dialectic) Stage: Middle School–students begin to link facts together, establishing connections and furthering the understanding of relationships.

Rhetoric Stage: High School–students have the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively, and communicate clearly.

Benefits of a Classical Education

A life-long passion for learning. The systematic and rigorous method of study trains the student's mind in the fundamental intellectual habits of critical and logical thought, persuasive writing, and speaking.

Preparation for participation in public life and debate. By inviting students to join ongoing conversations of great minds through the ages as embodied in the "great books," students gain insight into enduring truths about our nature and role in the world.

Cultivation of character traits that lead to a virtuous life.

We Seek to do the Following:

  • Advance along the continuum of the Classical Trivium by requiring mastery of grammar, solidifying formal logic, promoting analytical thinking, and helping students define and express their world views
  • Encourage students’ love for learning by providing an engaging and disciplined atmosphere where students can grow toward their own academic and social potential
  • Build virtuous character through instruction in respect and responsibility, so that students can take their place as honorable members of society

Teaching History in Chronological Order

Students learn history in chronological order. Other subjects, such as science, literature, and art follow the time period of the particular history section studied. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to make more connections between the subjects. In addition, we teach history in four-year cycles, repeating the history three times. Each time a student repeats a period of history and the corresponding literature and science, he or she gains a deeper understanding due to an increase in his or her developmental level and maturity.

The classical curriculum gives students a broad perspective of the world and world history. Understanding past world events puts our students at an advantage. The interdisciplinary aspect is also fundamental for students to achieve. Learning a period of history, in addition to the scientific discoveries of the time, the literature, art, and music, makes a very rich educational experience.

The organization provided by the classical model provides a structure for students to develop and grow at each level, culminating in a student who has learned how to think and learn independently, not simply learned concepts.

Socratic Seminar

Addenbrooke Classical Academy utilizes the Socratic method in a seminar format to: 1) instruct students in the basic content (grammar) of a topic and facilitate abstract thinking (logic) about the subject and 2) express well-synthesized thoughts (rhetoric) about the material. The Socratic method involves asking questions requiring thoughtful answers in order to help students learn and process the material. This creates an interactive and dynamic classroom, which fosters the retention of a significant amount of knowledge. A classroom using the seminar format for instruction creates an environment that promotes the involvement of all members. Our classrooms have a layout that is conducive to this approach, such as a single-tiered semi-circle. In the event that classrooms are too crowded to allow for this, teachers move around the room to prevent anyone overlooking any students.

Teaching from Primary Source Documents

As much as possible, the foundation of Addenbrooke Classical Academy’s curriculum is primary source documents and/or works produced by a single author who is passionate about the subject. In addition, our teachers understand that the integration of classical methods is to be the philosophical base of all instruction. We encourage student observations and expressions. This approach significantly reduces handouts and encourages note taking. Also, while it is important that students work well together on group projects cooperatively, these groups do not receive a single grade across the group. Each student will receive a teacher-assigned grade based on her/his specific responsibilities (as outlined by the teacher) in the group. The student’s ability to work in conjunction with others may affect that grade.

Written and Spoken Work

The emphasis classical education places on written and spoken work are especially evident in the evaluation process. Essays and oral exams are the predominant means of evaluation, with limited use of true/false, fill-in-the-blank, or multiple choice testing. Although we do not completely exclude textbooks, they do not become the curriculum, per se. In fact, proper knowledge of how to use textbooks, as well as their limitations, is included in instruction, since the main focus for students exiting ACA is college enrollment.

Training in the Virtues

Training in the virtues during the high school grades continues as an integrated subject rather than as a separate curriculum in and of itself. The following statement forms the basis for this approach: “We will demonstrate the virtues of integrity, honesty, respect, and responsibility, upholding others to that standard.”