In broad terms, a Classical Education may be best described as an education centered on developing an understanding of the human condition and the world around us. At TPS, we strive to instill in our students a sense of wonder so that they look at the world with intense curiosity and start their journey to becoming life-long learners. We believe that this is best achieved through close cooperation with parents so that students are well-supported in their education both at school and at home.
One of the many strengths of a classical education is that it’s developmentally appropriate and follows a three-part continuum called the Trivium. Students start in the grammar stage where they focus on memorizing facts and gaining a foundational level of knowledge and skills. Next, students move to the logic stage, where there’s a heavier emphasis on reasoning, understanding causes and effects, and understanding the “why.” Finally, students enter the rhetoric stage, where they practice developing a position, supporting their ideas, and persuading others through effective communication.
Throughout our school, one of the main drivers of our curriculum is history. Starting in 1st grade, students begin their historical journey by spending the year learning about the ancient world. In 2nd grade, students learn about the medieval period, then transition to the Renaissance and Enlightenment in 3rd grade, and in 4th grade move on to modern history. This 4-year historical cycle is then completed two more times by the end of grade twelve with students going into greater depth each time. Literature read by students in both the lower school (grades K-6) and upper school (grades 7-12) is carefully selected and ties to the historical period being studied that year.
In addition to this unique approach to studying history, a classical education at TPS emphasizes the reading of the Great Books and the learning of classical languages. We want all students to join the “Great Conversation” which means to discuss, debate, and build upon the ideas presented in classic books. Not only will students read these books in English, but often in their original languages as well. TPS students, for example, study Latin for several years. Students are introduced to Latin and Greek root words in the lower school, take a full year of Latin during the 7th and 8th grades, and take at least one additional year of Latin sometime during their 9th-12th grades. Both Latin and Spanish are offered in the upper school with students able to progress all the way to the Advanced Placement (AP) level for each language.
At TPS, our classical education curriculum also places a strong emphasis on the following:
- practicing the visual and performing arts
- developing strong writing skills
- understanding topics in a broader historical and global context
- reading primary sources as much as possible
- recognizing the transcendentals (truth, beauty, and goodness) in our learning
- developing virtuous qualities – justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude
The classical education provided at TPS results in a well-rounded person who has the academic skills, the character traits, and the motivation to make a positive impact on their communities, the world, and the people around them.