Back to Basics Approach
At Beacon, our classical education is a “back-to-basics” approach that includes a traditional liberal arts focus in language studies and literature, math, history and government, the sciences, music and art as a coherent, integrated program. World history is broken down into four major periods – the Ancients, Rise and Fall of Roman Empire through the Renaissance, Early Modern History, and Modern History. Classical Education uses history as its organizing principle. The curriculum is thematically integrated across the disciplines based on the historical period of study. Students will read literature from or about the historical period. The study of science is based on the major discoveries of the time period studied. When students study Ancient Greece, they concurrently study Ancient Grecian art, music, and literature.
As students progress through the classical curriculum, they are able to build from a broader to a deeper understanding of history, work with more sophisticated texts, and develop a clearer concept of how ideas have unfolded over time. The arts are taught through music, theatre, painting, and drawing, sculpture, and architecture. The school will teach music and art as a study in technique to appreciate and emulate the great works of the best masters: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Monet. History provides the organizing theme of the curriculum. Classical education will provide the rich content to engage students and uphold the standards of excellence.
Human Beings are Intelligent Beings
A classical view of education begins with the premise that human beings are intelligent beings. We are inquisitive. We search for truth. As young children, we observe everything around us. We absorb language easily. We ask questions of everything. We are natural learners. Our educational perspective takes advantage of young people’s natural curiosity. We believe that as children grow, their questions become more complex, and their abilities to assimilate their observations more advanced. We know that children possess an arsenal of mental capacities: memory, reason, imagination, capacity for beauty, and a facility for language.
Moral and Virtue
Beacon Classical Academy Elementary will have an embedded character-building focus. Character study will pervade the curriculum. Aristotle’s dictum states that one becomes virtuous by practicing the virtues. Students are encouraged to emulate the intellectual and moral virtues of writers and scientists as heroes and heroines. In so doing, Beacon Classical Academy Elementary will provide an education worthy of this nation’s founding principles, the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We will advance students as citizens fully cognizant of their moral rights and responsibilities to society.
Beacon’s classical education requires the critical study of language: one’s own and others. We teach English as a classical language, and study other languages, including Latin, Greek, Spanish, and French as a basis to understand our own language and to become multilingual. Only mankind possesses the power of language. Upon this concept, Aristotle said that human beings come together in society in order to share their thoughts, through language. We propose that classical education feeds and directs and strengthens children’s mental abilities. The mind, like the body, atrophies when not well trained. The emphasis of a classical education is on rigorous mental training. The curriculum will promote the higher order of thought, reasoning, and expression.
Core Knowledge Sequence
At Beacon Classical Academy we recognize the need for the practical application of aligned standards, curriculum, and sound pedagogy. We apply standards developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation and Common Core State Standards. This dual standards-based instruction implements analytical thinking tasks with hands-on learning contexts. The Common Core State Standards are integrated into our grade level Core Knowledge Sequence curriculum maps. The goal is to provide a comprehensive curriculum that promotes content and process knowledge by enabling students to make connections to the past, present, and future possibilities, and promote the integration of concepts across the curriculum. This approach is implemented by promoting the use of expressive and interactive language activities that develop a strong oral language base with a focus on vocabulary to ensure development of academic language.
The educational program of Beacon Classical Academy Elementary is based on The Core Knowledge Foundation Standards Series: Resource Books for Kindergarten Through Grade Eighth (Hirsh, 1996), A Thomas Jefferson Education (Van Mile, 2009), Cultural Literacy (Hirsch, 1988), Paul-Elder’s Model of Critical Thinking, and A Thinker’s Guide to Historical Thinking (Gorzychi & Elder, 2011). The Well-Trained Mind is a language and history-intensive guide on building vocabulary and understanding the history of human endeavor from past to present. A Thomas Jefferson Education focuses on how to develop educational philosophy and implement a methodology for building mission-driven leaders. Cultural Literacy lays the foundation of what every student should know. It is the basis of the Core Knowledge Sequence of pedagogy, which aligns with Common Core, but goes beyond. Paul-Elder’s Model of Critical Thinking includes the Intellectual Standards, Elements of Thinking, and Intellectual Traits applied to all disciplines of study. A Thinker’s Guide to Historical Thinking presents a mode of thinking about history rather than a list of disconnected names, places, and dates.
Classical education provides an essential foundation in basic literacy skills scaffold with rigor to help students achieve academic success, especially for students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Students from all ethnic and social economic backgrounds benefit from the classical literature and history-based curriculum. Our selected math program, Singapore Math, was shown to be the top of the world three times in fourth and eighth grade mathematical achievement (TIMSS 2011). The Spell to Write and Read program is taught daily through an explicit phonics program shown to have great success in raising student achievement levels in spelling, reading and writing. Our science program is the Elemental Science program for a successful active-learning science curricula. The program bridges research and practice by providing tools and strategies to engage students in experiences that lead to a deeper understanding of their world. The science program is designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students and to prepare them for life in the 21st century. Local, national, and world-wide research attest to the success of the programs included in our curriculum. Classical education provides an essential foundation in basic literacy skills scaffold with rigor to help students achieve academic success, especially for students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.