To graduate young men and women leaders, who think clearly and listen carefully with discernment and understanding; who reason persuasively and articulate precisely; who are capable of evaluating their entire range of experience in light of the Scriptures; and who do so with eagerness in joyful submission to God.
HOW ARE WE DIFFERENT?
The following is our philosophy statement, adapted from the book, The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson. Veritas Christian Academy offers a unique learning environment for the student who is seeking a classical education within a Christian framework.
What is a Classical Christian Education? Our philosophy is based on years of research, which have concluded that children grow naturally through stages that correspond nicely with three elements of learning, called the Trivium. These elements are: grammar, dialectic (logic), and rhetoric. The Trivium refers to the first three of the seven liberal arts and consists of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
Grammar is not simply linguistic, as we usually think of it, but should be understood as the constituent parts of each subject. In the study of language, of course, grammar deals with verbs, nouns, and adjectives, as well as sentence structure. Math, however, has a grammar as well, as does geography and history. The grammar of math would be the addition and multiplication tables. In geography and history, the grammar would be rivers, continents, states, timelines, dates, and battles. The grammar stage is the foundational stage. It presents the who, the what, the where, and the when (but not the how and why; this will be presented in the next stage of the Trivium, the dialectic stage).
Dialectic can also be referred to as logic. After a child has memorized piles of data in the grammar stage, he or she must learn how to sort them out. Dialectic, or logic, is the process of doing this.
Rhetoric concerns the art of a good man speaking well. In the educational context, rhetoric concerns how the students present what they have learned. How do they communicate it?In summary:
- Grammar stage: the students learn the facts.
- Dialectic stage: the students learn the logical connections between the facts.
- Rhetoric stage: the students learn to express the logical relations between things in an understandable, convincing, and winsome manner to others.
This view of the Trivium assumes the course of study to be chronological, and it is. We teach the grammar of all subjects to the younger children; we teach dialectic to the children of junior-high age; and we teach the rhetorical disciplines to the high school students. Put another way, first we have grammar; the accumulation of facts, then comes dialectic, the sorting out of facts into truth through logic. Then rhetoric is the presentation of that truth.
For us, classical is not enough. We desire our school to be thoroughly and rigorously Christian as well. How is this view of Trivium grounded in Scripture? The wisdom literature of Scripture (Psalms and Proverbs, as well as the Gospels) gives us certain distinctions that apply here, referring to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Knowledge corresponds to grammar. Understanding corresponds to dialect, and Wisdom, just like rhetoric, is the cornerstone of all the previous study.
Throughout Scripture, we regularly see these three words distinguished, sometimes in the same passage. In the wisdom literature of the Bible, knowledge corresponds with grammar. “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27). In Scripture, knowledge is connected with hearing (or refusing to hear) specific words of instruction. A fool does not want to be bothered. One who is diligent to hear will come eventually to wisdom. In the classical method, grammar refers to the body of information that must be taken in by the student in the form of simple facts, which the youngest of students can grasp.
In a similar way, understanding corresponds to dialect. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalms 111:10). Clear and logical thinking is a moral issue. Blurry thinking is one of the great sins of the age. Learning to distinguish rightly, learning to evaluate, is the meaning of holiness. As we seek to understand the world around us, we are seeking understanding in this Biblical sense. During this time, the students should be learning, in brief who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Who is right, and who is wrong?
Dialectic does not refer simply to the making of distinctions, but to the evaluation of those distinctions. To see, for example, that a horse is not a duck belongs to the grammar stage. To see that a horse is a suitable animal to use in battle, and that a duck is not, belongs to the dialectic stage.
Wisdom corresponds directly to rhetoric. “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:2). Wisdom has to do with the right use of knowledge. Rhetoric is the use of knowledge. Knowledge, if it does not acquire wisdom, “puffs up” its owner. In Scripture, wisdom refers to the arrangement and application of knowledge and understanding. Wisdom, therefore, answers the question of how to present or apply knowledge.
Putting all of the above together, we seek here, at Veritas Christian Academy, to establish our students in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. We do this by educating them in grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Through this they should be brought to know the truth, understand the good, and attain wisdom in that which is lovely.