Classical Christian Education
Whitefish Christian Academy is a private school steeped in the classical and Christian traditions. Classical refers to the classical era, to the influences of the Greco-Roman thinkers and writers that so markedly shaped western civilization. In the context of education, Christian refers to our worldview that God created the world and everything in it, and as a result, there is order and meaning in all that we study.
At the heart of those historic traditions is this enduring goal: To form wise and virtuous young men and women. To arrive at wisdom and virtue, what we teach (our curriculum) and how we teach (our pedagogy) determine the effectiveness of our academic endeavors at the Academy.
Here below you’ll find the principles that guide our course of study and pedagogy at Whitefish Christian Academy, and how both what we teach and how we teach are rooted in the classical and Christian traditions.
At the Academy, our curriculum is as follows:
Historically-Grounded: The WCA curriculum is historically grounded in two senses. First, it is time-tested. Many of the greatest minds and movers in history were classically educated; Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo da Vinci, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas, and Albert Einstein all received a classical education.
Second, the WCA curriculum emphasizes a robust and comprehensive teaching of history and literature, from the ancients to the present day. Classically trained students gain an unmatched understanding of the history of ideas, people, and events that have brought us to our modern experience, and read the Great Books – pieces by Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and more – that generations of scholars have deemed the best, most significant literary works. Formal Latin and Greek study, an important distinctive at the Academy, culminate in the student’s ability to more intimately comprehend those great works by reading them in their original languages.
Integrated: A classical education is, in essence, a true liberal arts education, holistic by nature. All disciplines – math, science, the humanities, fine arts, and physical education – are taught interconnectedly, providing important, interdisciplinary context to all that our students learn. Ultimately, teaching in all disciplines points to Christ, through whom and for whom all things were created.
Rational: The interwoven nature of a classical and Christian education provides the groundwork for coherent and harmonious study. Since God created the world and everything in it, students learn with the confidence that truth is discoverable, and that all that they study has purpose and meaning.
Rigorous: A WCA education is exacting and thorough. Systematic, in-depth study – as opposed to cursory, scattered study – produces excellence. Our students are guided towards mastery of their disciplines. Rigor also produces virtue; classical, Christian education calls one to strive against his own ignoble tendencies, to do what is right in pursuit of higher goals.
Well-Ordered: Socrates once asserted that “the object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” The Academy curriculum teaches students to prioritize rightly – to order their affections appropriately. What’s more, WCA students genuinely love to learn, and in their work seek to understand God and the world around them more clearly. Importantly, Academy students are taught to identify and love what is true, good, and beautiful in all that they study, and to learn with an abiding sense of awe and wonder.
At the Academy, our guiding pedagogical principles are as follows:
The Stages of Learning: The Academy’s curriculum and teaching methods correspond to the growth of the child. In classical, Christian education there are three growth stages.
Grammar Stage (Pre-K-3rd grade) – Our young students absorb facts through memorization, preparing the groundwork for advanced study as they learn the fundamental rules of each discipline.
Logic Stage (4th-8th grade) – Students wrestle with questions of “why?”, and begin to argue effectively. At WCA, students take formal Logic courses.
Rhetoric Stage (9th-12th grade) – Students learn to express their findings and opinions clearly and articulately; in this stage, students make meaningful connections between their studies and produce their own creative works.
The Socratic Method: Wherever possible, WCA teachers employ the Socratic Method, a time-tested teaching technique that involves a vigorous, interactive conversation between the teacher and her pupils. The asking and answering of questions stimulates critical thinking and helps students discover answers on their own.
Reverence & Respect: At WCA, students are treated as whole persons, as individuals created by God in His image. Academy teachers humbly embrace their roles as educators, and recognize the weight of responsibility entailed in the instruction of young men and women. Academy teachers also handle the time-tested material that they teach with reverence and respect, understanding that all great works and discoveries point to eternal truths about God and man.
Thoughtful Mentorship: Academy teachers partner with a student’s parents to, as the Proverb instructs, carefully “train a child in the way he should go.” That means faculty model the high character to which they call their students, and instill the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, courage, industry, patience, kindness, charity, and humility in their students. As a result, WCA faculty engender a restful, safe environment, in which students may ask freely and explore boldly.
If you would like to learn more about classical, Christian education, or have other questions about Whitefish Christian Academy, we invite you to write us here.