Curriculum

The classical model of education has been refined and tested for over 2,500 years and was still the dominant approach in the United States as recently as the early 20th century. Building on the cultural heritage of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, the classical education model trained nearly every great leader, scientist, and scholar of Western civilization.

Following Dorothy Sayers essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” the modern resurgence of the classical method recognizes three learning stages. These stages generally correspond to the natural development of the student’s mind as the student grows in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom:

  • Grammar deals with the foundational rules and facts of any given subject. It is the focus of PreKindergarten through 5th grades.
  • Logic is emphasized during the middle school years and is concerned with the reasoning that ties all the various particulars together.
  • Rhetoric is taught during the high school years, when students are trained to express their thoughts clearly and persuasively.

With a classical education, student acquire “the tools of learning,” which enable them to continue as lifelong students wherever God calls them to serve, whatever He calls them to do.

We encourage parents to come and visit us and spend some time in our classrooms to observe what our curriculum is about. Here is a glimpse of some activities you will find in the classroom:

Elementary/Grammar School (K-5th)

Some things your child will read…

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (3rd)
  • King Arthur and His Knights (4th)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (5th)
  • Westminster Shorter Catechism (K-5th)
  • Minimus; Minimus Secundus; Ecce Romani I (3rd-5th)
  • Shurley Grammar

Some things your child will do…

  • Learn cursive writing, starting in Kindergarten
  • Take a field trip to an apple orchard (K)
  • Participate in a Reformation Day Celebration (K-5th with the Upper School students)
  • Be exposed to the great hymns of the church in morning chapels and assemblies (K-5th)
  • Visit the Oregon Symphony (3rd-5th)
  • Be introduced to key classic works of art and architecture (4th-5th)

Recitation:

In K-5th grade, the primary learning focus is the mastery of reading, writing, ciphering (doing math), and acquiring facts. Grammar school students love to memorize using songs, chants, rhythm, and rhyme. We use these techniques to teach students all sorts of factual material including oceans and continents, major pharaohs of Egypt, taxonomy classification (biology), Greek and Roman history, the Battle of Marathon, multiplication tables, the Periodic Table of the Elements, countries of the world, selected Shakespeare, the parts of speech, prime numbers to 100, numerous Bible passages, and a Renaissance and Reformation timeline, and much more!

Middle/Logic School (6th-8th)

Some things your child will read…

  • Amos Fortune (6th)
  • Across Five Aprils (6th)
  • The Call of the Wild (7th)
  • The Tempest (8th)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (8th)
  • Streams of Civilization (7th-8th)
  • Biblical Theological Introduction to the Old Testament (7th-8th)
  • Lingua Latina per se Illustrata (6th-8th)

Some things your child will do…

  • Receive instruction in formal logic and logical fallacies
  • Latin translation and discussions in class
  • Study algebra and geometry
  • Study basic principles of biological and physical sciences
  • Learn studio art techniques
  • Have organized class discussions and formal debates facilitated by the teacher
  • Ask questions like:
    “Does that conclusion follow from the facts?”
    “What does this word mean and is it being used accurately?”
    “What other points of view are there on this subject?”

Socratic teaching:

Socratic teaching is a form of guided question and answer. It is highly effective in teaching children to think. The teacher typically asks a broad “opinion” question that seems to have no clear answer. Then, as the students attempt to answer, the teacher guides them through the use of logic toward a conclusion. While this may seem straightforward, Socratic teaching is an art. It requires time to master and use effectively, which is why most schools do not practice it. St. Stephen’s Academy uses this method of instruction because we are more focused on training students to think than filling their heads with more and more information.

High/Rhetoric School (9th-12th)

Some things your child will read…

  • The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid (9th)
  • Plato’s Republic (9th)
  • Till We Have Faces (9th)
  • Beowulf (10th)
  • The Canterbury Tales (10th)
  • The Divine Comedy: Inferno (10th)
  • Augustine’s Confessions (10th)
  • Gulliver’s Travels (11th)
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France (11th)
  • The Gulag Archipelago (11th)
  • The Scarlet Letter (12th)
  • The Federalist Papers (12th)
  • Billy Budd (12th)
  • The Great Gatsby (12th)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (12th)
  • Escape from Reason (12th)

Some things your child will do…

  • Learn about the True, Good, and Beautiful in Art, History, and Humane Letters classes
  • Learn formal rhetoric skills: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery
  • Engage in frequent discussion and debate to test knowledge, logic, and communication skills
  • Learn how to constructively engage with people who disagree with them
  • Have the option of taking challenging math and science courses up through calculus and physics
  • Write and publicly defend a senior thesis

Senior Thesis:

In our high school, students are focused on learning, integrating, and communicating truth as they become wise and virtuous people. The capstone of the high school is the senior thesis. This project involves selecting an important topic, researching primary and secondary sources relating to a question, and writing and orally defend this thesis in front of faculty. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the logic and rhetoric skills acquired in middle school. The senior thesis also gives students the formative experience of completing a substantial writing project that will serve them well in college and beyond.

For more information about our curriculum, please review our Curriculum Overview and High School Graduation Requirements Overview.