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Lower Grammar Stage K5-3rd Grade


Upper Grammar Stage 4th-6th Grade


Dialectic Stage 7th-8th Grade

Exploration is a Lower Grammar Stage Program (K5-3rd Grade) aimed at the cultivation of wonder and virtue. Students at these ages are naturally filled with wide-eyed wonder at the world and need that wonder to be protected, cultivated, and extended. Young children are receptive to acquiring virtuous habits of learning that will serve the rest of their lives. So, while we practice handwriting, reading, and arithmetic, we are very intentional about developing them as passionate lovers of truth, goodness, and beauty. Thus, we seek to show them the natural world as a living museum full of wonders that delight the soul. We are intentional about cultivating virtues of humility, courage, and constancy. The lower grammar years are the ideal time to acquaint younger students with the pedagogical (teaching methods) wisdom of making haste slowly (festina lente) and mastering a few things rather than lightly “covering” many (multum non multa). Student Explorers learn the virtue of working wisely and well but without anxiety and exhaustion. We focus on a core of three main arts: reading, writing, and arithmetic; additional study in history, science, Bible, music and fine arts serve to season and delight but not overwhelm. Latin memory work is also introduced. We learn naturally and with delight by means of songs and chants, engaging all five senses by creating meaningful rhythms, practices, routines, and traditions replete with beautiful images, music, and “liturgy.” Physical education and recreational games are fun ways to promote health habits of teamwork, cooperation, and exercise. The STEAM component introduces students to creative play through science (observations and journaling), technology, engineering, art, and mathematics activities.

The Excursion Program is an Upper Grammar Stage Program (4th-6th Grade) that cultivates a student’s love for language, literature, and number sense with a blend of appropriately challenging academic courses and enrichment activities. On our Excursion, we seek to extend the wonder and virtue education begun in the lower grammar years and “seal” and strengthen students’ wonder and virtue so that they become a permanent aspect of character. We also begin the dedicated study of grammar, studying both English grammar and Latin. Students discover the wonder of language—how it works as a medium of thought and communication, how it delights the ear, the tongue, and the soul. We teach grammar as an art that illuminates and humanizes and that provides students with the capacity to acquire wisdom (via reading) and express their ideas and thoughts clearly (via speech and writing). Additionally, this program highlights the Great Books, or great literature. Now that students are independent readers, we give them a steady diet of the best literature—including novels, poetry, and history. We work to impart mastery of number sense—showing students the wonder of mathematics and giving them a solid understanding of how numbers work (numeracy and number sense). Students begin to see mathematics as another language to describe the world, something beautiful, something to play with, and something with which to do valuable work. Fine Arts study includes drama/theater instruction and art appreciation and technique. The STEM component of Excursion introduces students to mechanical concepts and teamwork via LEGO robotics.

Expedition A, B, & C is a Dialectic Stage Program (7th-8th Grade). During these years, students are ready to argue, debate, deliberate, and collaborate. We not only teach logic but teach all subjects using logic as a central teaching tool—which is to say we teach dialectically. Instructors employ the study of the informal fallacies in every subject, helping students analyze arguments for potential fallacies. Instructors teach primarily by utilizing effective discussion and debate rather than by lecture. Students enjoy collaborating with their peers, discussing important issues, deliberating ideas, and working together on projects, presentations, and assignments. Students begin to study the traditional mathematical arts of algebra and geometry, mastering the functions, ideas, and language of these arts. Students begin the study of natural philosophy (natural sciences), including geology and botany. Additionally, students study history, literature, and theology for the ideas they contain and the wisdom they can impart. History becomes the study of the ongoing story of human acts and civilization, and the great deeds and virtues of the past—a source of wisdom. Literature is studied for truth, goodness, and beauty as students seek the best that has been thought and said. Theology provides the coherent framework as God’s revelation that brings unity to all knowledge and experience, and thus is the “queen” of the other arts and disciplines and a chief source of wisdom.


Rhetoric Stage 9th-12th Grade

Expedition I, II, III, & IV is a Rhetoric Stage Program (9th-12th Grade). During these years, students are ready to employ their past learning to meaningful work, art, music, writing, and speech—they want to begin making a contribution to their surrounding community and culture. The study of rhetoric formally enables this as students study what makes for effective, beautiful, and persuasive speech and writing. Rhetoric students, therefore, are frequently asked to speak, write, share, and create. As emerging adults, students take more responsibility for teaching younger students, and find that they master learning best by teaching others (docendo discimus, by teaching we learn). Students continue their study of the traditional mathematical and scientific arts and study geometry, trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics, and biology. Some students may wish or need to forgo the study of calculus or physics or delay their study until college. The study of the mathematical and scientific arts, far from being merely a study of truth, will also engage students in with imagination, beauty, and creativity. As more responsible, well-trained students, these students wisely engage in contemplation (scholé, contemplation and leisure) and discussion with fellow students and adult instructors. Students read and discuss the Great Books and eagerly engage in conversation and written papers in response to these books. As students are growing in wisdom, the formal study of philosophy and theology engages them in great questions of human existence about living a “good life” characterized by wisdom, virtue, and eloquence. Rhetoric students conclude their studies by completing a “capstone” project or thesis that will display a synthesis of learning over the K-12 years, and represent a meaningful, creative contribution to their community. This project will be accompanied by a prepared paper and speech that will employ the rhetorical training of the graduating student.

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