Many problems in today’s schools (and homes) can be traced to a lack of character. Here at SGCA, a cornerstone of our instruction is developing personal character in our students with the purpose of making morally conscientious citizens. Furthermore, virtuous character is the foundation for developing young minds, building critical thinking skills and creating a passion for learning among our students.
Character is in the inward values seen by others in outward actions, the moral compass we use to make choices, and who we are when no one else is watching. Good character includes the ability to make the connection between the thoughts we think, the decisions we make, and our behavior. Building strong character is a maturation process that comes with training as well as life experiences. For children, education using rigorous, content-rich material is a tool to develop admirable characteristics and our 12 Core Virtues are part of our curriculum. We strive to reinforce positive behaviors and guide inappropriate behaviors in our students. We further encourage students to recognize they have much to gain from facing and overcoming challenges as opposed to ignoring or fleeing from them.
SGCA will provide parents with a unique niche in education choice that is referred to as the Classical Method of education. This method has three key characteristics:
The mind is supplied with facts.
The mind is given the tools to organize those facts.
The mind is equipped to express conclusions from the arrangement of facts.
The focus of the SGCA Classical education program is to provide students with a rigorous academic program that will inspire them to excel in their studies and personal development. By “rigor” we do not mean a harsh adherence to a set of rules and conduct, we mean something far superior. First, by “rigor” we mean raising expectations and standards as to what children can achieve. Second, we further apply the word “rigor” in our education model by encouraging children to be industrious, attentive, disciplined and engaged. “Rigor” is meant to be a virtue that contrasts with student laziness. Last, we want students to be “rigorous” in the sense of displaying precision in their work. They should always be encouraged to approach projects and subjects with deliberate care.
Historically, Classical education has been around since the time of the Greek and Roman empires. Throughout the years it has been the means of teaching students how to think critically. The importance of developing critical thinking skills is so students develop the necessary skills for learning and so they are able to think deeply about all the various issues of life. Simply stated, it teaches students how to think clearly. In addition to thinking clearly, it cultivates a life-long love of learning and trains students to articulate persuasively utilizing reason.
Classical education is language-focused and learning is accomplished through words both written and spoken, as opposed to image-based learning. There are important differences between language-based and image-based learning since they require different behaviors of mental acuity. Reading (language-based) is an arduous task as far as the brain is concerned causing it to work harder. When students read, their brains are translating words on a page (symbols) into an idea and their brains are becoming proactive. On the other hand, projected images from a video or television cause the brain to become lazy and passive. In an article by Victoria Dunckley in Psychology Today sites 6 ways in which “screen time” causes children to become “moody, crazy and lazy” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201508/screentime-is-making-kids-moody-crazy-and-lazy). Since classical education is language-based it forces the brain to work harder therefore making it keener.
The Trivium: The Trivium refers to the structure and stages of every academic discipline and is described as grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These stages follow a developmental sequence that facilitates learning according to the mental development of students from kindergarten to high school.
The first stage, grammar, is the foundation of a particular subject. It is essentially collecting the facts of a subject and learning how they work. The rationale for the grammar stage is that students must master the facts before they can move forward to the next stage.
The second stage, logic, is characterized as understanding the relationship of these facts to one another and how they are connected and organized into a whole. In other words, students learn to look at the big picture enabling them to begin asking the “why” questions.
The final stage, rhetoric, is the ability to solve problems and express opinions. This is accomplished by connecting factual knowledge with logical understanding of an academic subject enabling them to ask proper questions and express ideas. Students also learn to read with refinement and with the ability to judge content.
Success will be predicated upon the proper implementation of superb educational applications, the institution’s high standards, and a campus that is administrated properly. Our educational objective is to prepare students who are ready for advanced education and continuing academic accomplishment. In combination with this intention, students will be prepared to become positively contributing members of the community.
The Classical Method: To provide an educational experience in the classical tradition that joins a rigorous academic program with instruction in principles of moral character and civic virtues, we believe that students need to experience a systematic and demanding educational program while emphasizing principles of virtue and civic responsibility. Classical Education has two primary elements: it’s methodical and it’s demanding. It’s methodical in that it adheres to a clear process for students to progress and master subject content, and it’s demanding in that students are required to demonstrate mastery of materials and skills before moving to the next stage or grade.
The process behind Classical education is very simple and very powerful at the same time. Understanding The Trivium is to understand the process which starts with learning facts. We do not believe in allowing students to determine what they need to learn, a method used in many schools, but we teach them what they need to know. The second stage to this process is teaching students how to logically connect the facts they learn and how they interact with one another in the real world. The final stage is for students to acquire the ability to articulate and make judgments about the facts and to express how they may or may not connect with one another, even though these facts may have been learned in different disciplines.
The Classical method of education is further characterized by its teaching of Latin/Greek roots, which has been taught in classical schools for centuries. The study of Latin rewards students in several ways. First, it is one of the “paradigm disciplines” for elementary age children. Latin teaches students the rudiments and structure of the English language and all languages as well. Second, Latin helps students understand English grammar. The grammar of the Latin language is logical and straightforward, making it an ideal language to learn grammar that can be applied to many other languages. Third, the study of Latin causes SAT and GRE scores to rise (National Committee for the Study of Latin and Greek, promotelatin.org). Students scoring the highest on the verbal section of the GRE are Classic majors. Last, Latin is the mother tongue of the Romance languages of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian. Ninety percent of the words from these languages come from Latin. Though Latin is not typically taught in the Classical Model until Grade 6, Latin and Greek roots are taught in the elementary grades.
Instruction on good character will take the form of students being instructed in the classical virtues of temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence both inside and outside the classroom.
We agree with the Aristotelian concept that one becomes good only by observing and practicing right behavior. Discipline, ethics and personal responsibility will be modeled and expected. This will be accomplished by exposing students to the virtuous behavior of timeless heroes and heroines of literature and history. In addition to the classical virtues, SGCA will define a standard of behavior using our 12 Core Virtues which includes generosity, responsibility, honesty, service, perseverance, loyalty, forgiveness, integrity, courage, humility, temperance and prudence. By placing emphasis upon these standards of excellence, students will develop virtuous behavior alongside right patterns of thought based upon an expectation of maintaining high moral standards.
The educational program at SGCA is well aligned with the school’s mission. Each component of the education program was purposefully chosen to align directly with one or more components of the school’s mission and/or purpose, and state academic standards.
SGCA’s academic program and virtues training will be supported by an efficiently run campus that fosters an environment of positive relationships between students, teachers, administrators and parents. All teachers and volunteers will receive proper training before implementing curriculum or assisting in the classroom and elsewhere. To meet student needs, teaching methodology may be modified and differentiated, but ultimately, the success of every student will depend upon his or her consistent effort and perseverance. Each student will receive the necessary support to succeed through a focus on academic achievement and excellence.