Whitefish Christian Academy

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820 Ashar Ave.
Whitefish, Montana 59937

Distinctly Classical

Classical education consists of a process of training the mind.  The early years of school are spent absorbing facts and information, systematically laying a foundation for advanced study.  In the middle school years, students are trained to think logically and analytically.  In the high school years, they learn to express themselves eloquently.  This three-part classical pattern is called the Trivium.

The goal of a Trivium-based education is to prepare students to become critical thinkers so they can go into the marketplace of ideas and become successful leaders in their chosen careers.  The worthiness of a Trivium-based education is found in the fact that the greatest thinkers, leaders, and scientists of the Western world were educated under the classical model of education.  Classical education is also the model by which our nation’s founding fathers were taught.  Following is a brief description of the three phases of a Trivium-based education and how it is implemented at Whitefish Christian Academy.

The first phase of a Trivium-based education is “grammar.”  First and second grade students focus on sentence structure, syntax, and the parts of speech.  Grammar development is further emphasized in third through sixth grades through the teaching of formal Latin.  Latin is the mother tongue to over 50% of our English words and is a key component in such subjects as science, law, anatomy, logic, and much more.  Latin helps to deepen a student’s understanding of syntax, sentence structure, and the parts of speech by building on what they learned in the first and second grade.  By mastering skills in Latin, students are prepared for all future language study.  Latin and other subjects are taught using repetition, drill, memorization, chants, and songs.  This method of teaching, used during the elementary school years, is a proven means in helping students retain important facts of grammar, math, history, and science.

The second phase of a Trivium-based education is “formal logic.”  Formal logic is taught to junior high school students, as this is the time when the budding adult begins to develop formal reasoning skills.  Students are trained how to analyze, reason, question, evaluate, and critique an issue or a subject.  Students are taught how to think about life from a biblical foundation, and how to determine which arguments to an issue are valid and which are not.  Students learn how to make decisions based on sound reason and good judgment.  Students will become great problem solvers by applying the patterns of sound logic and reason to every subject or problem they face in high school, college, and at work.

The third phase of a Trivium-based education is “rhetoric.”  It is in the high school years that the soon-to-be young adult learns how to express what they know and what they are learning.  Students learn how to properly debate a subject, give a speech, and write a compelling essay.  Drama is introduced as a means of helping students master effective communication skills.  Well-developed rhetorical skills build upon the grammar and logic skills learned in earlier years.  It is the combination of a student’s mastery of grammar, logic, and rhetoric that brings students to the pinnacle of good reason, good judgment, and good expression.  The young adult is now ready to go off to college or pursue a career prepared with a Christian worldview firmly fixed and fully equipped to excel in their chosen field of study or work.

For further reading.  A highly recommended article by Fritz Hinrichs, who addresses three questions: what is classical education, why is it necessary in our day, and what are its benefits? Also recommended is the free ebook An Introduction to Classical Education, by Christopher A. Perrin, M.Div., Ph.D.