Classical Corner Blog

Why I Choose Classical Education

Written by Tracy Whitfield and presented at the 2017  State of the School Address Even before I knew what classical education was I knew it worked. It developed students who were articulate, knowledgeable, eager learners, and principled. I have traveled a unique road that lead me to teach classical education. I was educated in the public school system and was taught by great teachers. Teachers who inspire me to learn and to ultimately become like them. But I missed out on an opportunity to learn more about Christ and grow in my knowledge of Him. So, for my first year of college, I decided to attend a small Christian college in Virginia that was known as the “homeschool college”. I was one of six students on campus that year that had ever attend public school, the vast majority of students were homeschooled. I was blown away by how knowledgeable my peers were. My second year of college I transferred to another small liberal arts college in Michigan. Once again, I found myself amongst many homeschool students and now there were many students who had attended classical schools. At the time, I had no idea what classical school were but I saw these peers were vastly ahead of me in many ways. My peers not only a broader knowledge of subjects but they had a significantly deeper knowledge of the subjects. I had a superficial knowledge that lacked true understanding of the why and how. But what stood out to me the most about them was how articulate they were. They naturally were able to communicate their point of view and...

Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten is such an exciting milestone in your child’s life!  Some people question whether their child is ready to start kindergarten and should they attend full or part time.  Here are some guidelines to help you determine if your child is ready to start Kindergarten at Cornerstone Academy. Children should be able to: Language Arts Spell and Write their name Copy a simple sentence Rhyme Speak and recognize most of the letters of the alphabet Write most of their letters Know the difference in upper and lower case letters   Math Count to 50 Recognize and write numbers 0-30 Put numbers in order 0-20 Identify shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle) Recognize a penny, nickel, and dime Complete and create a pattern Identify longest and shortest Learning Readiness LISTENING – Follow three step directions TEACHABLE – Take instruction and redirection well ATTENTIVENESS – Focus on and complete a simple project DILIGENCE – Work through difficult tasks and ask for help Understand it is ok to make mistakes and learn from them Social Readiness Feels confident to attend class independently Asks for help Attempts new tasks knowing it is okay to make mistakes Tries to regulate emotions properly Articulates feelings in words with adults and peers *Child must be 5 years old by the beginning of the school year. Assessment is available for early...

Reading far outweighs socio-economic background for impact on pupils’ success

Reading for pleasure far outweighs the impact of socio-economic background on pupils’ success at school, Nick Gibb has said. The schools minister wants every primary pupil to read “at least one book a week” and is concerned that secondary English teachers start preparing pupils for GCSE-style questions too soon. “Reading for pleasure is more important than a family’s socio-economic status in determining a child’s success at school,” Mr Gibb said yesterday. The minister cited UCL Institute of Education research involving 6,000 children which found that reading for pleasure was more important for a child’s cognitive development, between10-16, than their parents’ level of education. “Remarkably, the combined effect of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree”, he said. “These findings show that given the gift of reading, a child’s life chances need not be limited by their social or economic background. Deprivation need not be destiny.” Mr Gibb said research also showed that “even highly educated people use less sophisticated vocabulary when speaking than the words used in a typical children’s book”. “Which is why it is so important not just to talk to children but to read to them as well,” the minister added. Mr Gibb made his comments in a speech to mark National Storytelling Week, referencing the storytelling abilities of people from the singer Max Bygraves to Jesus. He said that after instilling the love of reading, it was important for children to practice it often. “For this reason, I would like to see every pupil...

How Free Play Creates Emotionally Stable Children in an Unstable World

Are you old enough to remember “the carefree days of childhood” or “a happy childhood”? Once upon a time these were common phrases, but you don’t hear them very often today. According to a recent study released by San Diego State University, there is a sharp generational rise in youth depression, anxiety, and mental disorders in the United States. It’s hard to imagine a time in history when children were more coddled, indulged, or protected, and yet, according to this study, there are five to eight times as many young people suffering from major depression and anxiety today than a half-century ago. Obviously, children raised in the Depression era and World War II had very different lives. By all measures of today’s accepted parenting metrics these children should have been depressed or at least had anxiety issues. You certainly can’t say life was less stressful in the first half of the twentieth century. The increase in the safety and health of our children alone would bring some sort of stability by comparison, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s not what is happening. In fact, our children have been on a downhill slide for decades. Peter Gray is quick to point out in an article in Psychology Today that this most recent evidence indicating the rise in our young people’s depression and mental disorders has nothing to do with diagnostic changes. Gray offers parents hope with his clear insight into what children are missing–and it’s not what you would expect. First Gray explains, One thing we know about anxiety and depression is that they correlate significantly with people’s sense of control or lack of control over their own...

Benefits of Studying Classical Languages

It’s all Latin to everyone at first so training is crucial. It is the responsibility of any profession to attend to the education and training of its future members. Words, written and spoken, are mainly what lawyers bring to the market place and language skills are of first importance. It was therefore of interest to note that school students were making years of progress in just a few weeks by engaging in the study of Latin and Greek. This finding by Northumbria University researchers, reported on 28 December, was very old news indeed. I remember reading many years ago that the study of Latin in certain New York schools not only advanced students’ reading ages by many years but also reduced the incidence of gun crime in the classroom. The study of these languages is a cheap, accessible and infallible aid to the education of our youth. One has to wonder therefore why the study of the classical languages has all but been eradicated from our school curriculum.  The criticism is offered that Latin is a dead language of no relevance to the 21st century. Young persons should now be encouraged to express themselves in dynamic, living language, making up new expressions and attaching smiley faces as they let it all out. That may well be wholly appropriate at playtime and in creative study classes. Discipline, however, requires discipline. The most fundamental discipline required for the study of law is objective, transferable communication in which the meaning intended by the author is as close as possible to the meaning received, especially if the recipient is a judge. Latin, as...

Paper or Plasma?

This was in intriguing article that I was reading.  We have been approached by parents of middle school students who have suggested that we move our middle school reading onto an e-reader.  Their logic is easy to follow, the books would take up less room, they could make notes just like we do in class, they would not be lost or damaged, etc.   We have stuck with the decision to have students read paper books like The Odyssey and ‘Till We Have Faces, well because it just seems right to teach them to hold a book in their hands, wrestle with the content, flag, dog-ear, underline and notate on the pages to create their own personalized copy of these great classics.  Read this article and see what you think.     Would you like paper or plasma? That’s the question book lovers face now that e-reading has gone mainstream. And, as it turns out, our brains process digital reading very differently. Manoush Zomorodi, managing editor and host of WNYC’s New Tech City, recalls a conversation with the Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald, who’s researched the effects of reading on a screen. “He found, like I did, that when he sat down to read a book his brain was jumping around on the page. He was skimming and he couldn’t just settle down. He was treating a book like he was treating his Twitter feed,” she says. Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts...

SAT Report

Our annual Standford Achievement Test results are out!  Students at Cornerstone Academy continue to place on average 2.8 grade levels or 17% above the national norm.  In a longitudinal student of all our students, we find that the longer a student is at Cornerstone, the stronger their academic scores are. We do not teach to this test, but rather expect students to have learned naturally through the year to excel on this standardized testing. Think about climbing a ladder.  Each year, they step up one rung, the foundation under them is strong and stable.  When student switch between ladders (or different schools), the results can be limiting.  Not all ladders are created equal and we find that the first year a transfer student enters Cornerstone, there is usually a number of holes to be filled.  Those students who begin with us have the strongest academic standing. You can view our SAT Report...

A child. A canvas.

I got an email this week from a parent who recounted a conversation on the drive home.  The mother shared that normally she asks her boys different questions about how their school day was, how they did.  On this day though, she turned the tables and asked how the TEACHER did.  She asked them to rate their teacher on a scale of 1 to 5, and then asked why they gave the score they did. Her oldest said  “Miss Hacke is a 5.  She is, like, always a 5.  Every day.  She is enthusiastic and exciting.” The mom shared that it then led into a short discussion on Spiritual Gifts, and obeying God’s calling.  Aren’t these the beautiful conversations that we long for each day, teachable moments that paint the picture of our child’s character on the canvas of their life. “Michelangelo is supposed to have said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” I am grateful to the teachers who sought to discover the work of art that was me; I want to be the kind of teacher who seeks to discover the work of incomparable art that is every student.” (Deddens, 2014) I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works: and that my soul knoweth right well (Psalm 139:14; 1611...

Singing Our Math

We love seeing kids who love learning!  In our math classes, music and movement is still often integrated with learning new concepts.  In 3rd grade math, students are introduced to the multiplication tables.  The beginning of each class period starts out with singing skip counting songs.  This translates into a routine of learning that sets them up for success when they begin multiplication timed tests.  Maybe this will even help you remember your 9’s!  If you’d like a copy of all the skip counting songs, please email us for a PDF copy. 9’S SKIP COUNTING TO THE TUNE OF  “We wish you a Merry Christmas” 9, 18 and 27 (We wish you a merry Christmas) 36 and 45 (We wish you a merry Christmas) 54 and 63 (We wish you a merry Christmas) 72, 81 (And a Happy New Year)   90 and 99 (We wish you a merry Christmas) and 108 (We wish you a merry Christmas) We know all our 9’s (We wish you a merry Christmas) Now isn’t that great! (And a Happy New...

What is a Small Class Size?

Many of us will say that we want our children to learn in small classes.  But what really is that magic “small class size” number?  In empirically written publications, researchers say that class sizes should be between 13-17 in the elementary years.  Once students move into middle and high school, the class size number is no longer relevant.  What matters most to these kids is relationships – ‘is the teacher investing time and interest in my learning’. “…education is done best in small communities with teachers who love their students. Christ says that when a student is fully trained he will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Now to be fully trained by a teacher assumes a meaningful relationship, as the context of Luke 6 makes clear. To some extent, such relationships depend on size.” –  Dr. Christopher Perrin So walk into any class at Cornerstone Academy and you will see teachers engaged in students’ lives: teaching, modeling and igniting a love of learning....

Get on the Bus

A good friend talked to me this week about her frustration in trying to find a classical Christian school for their sons in another state.  She said that two of the schools she visited were pure classical schools to the letter of the law.  Their uniform policy was three pages long, the discipline policy was well executed and students were learning the 99 Theses in chapel.  She and her husband left the tour thinking, my kids are not going to love Jesus if they go to this school. Classical education really is the vehicle in which we should drive education.  Kids should be drawn to get on the bus.  There should be music, singing, chanting, beautiful poetry, lessons that inspire curiosity.  Those are the wheels of classical education. Not only that, the bus should be driven with grace. This is the example of how children will learn to engage the world around them.  As they encounter new material, new history, new people, their perspective should be one of grace.  When teachers at Cornerstone encounter a learning opportunity, whether it be academic or spiritual, they strive to ignite a child’s love of learning as well as point them to love their...

The Inseparability of God and History

by Bruce Etter  via Veritas Press Peanut butter without jelly? Maybe, but not preferably. Mashed potatoes without gravy? Are you kidding me? Not where I grew up. How about Oreos without milk? Well, now you’re just getting plain silly. Of course not. Certain combinations were simply meant to be. There are many others; Abbot and Costello, Batman and Robin, and the list goes on. The combination is so essential that there isn’t one without the other. There is a sense in which the two are really one. You can’t pull them apart. A question that arises in discussions about education is the role of God and the Christian worldview. Is the Christian worldview essential to a true education? Are the two inseparable? Let’s focus specifically on the teaching of history. Is it possible to teach history without the “intrusions” of God and the Christian perspective? Some might say that history is simply the record of the past. It is a look at what events have transpired throughout time. Why bring God into the equation? Let’s consider the implications of this view. If I am teaching on World War I, it is quite possible, actually likely, that I will not get around to mentioning the ancient Babylonian King, Hammurabi. Shocking? Of course not. And what is the clear conclusion we make? You might be able to make a connection of some kind, but Hammurabi is not essential to a study of World War I. We might even say that Hammurabi has nothing to do with World War I, and I think that is a fair conclusion. You could certainly make...

Math People, Humanities People, and the Partially Free

by Brian Phillips There are, we generally believe, “math people” and “non-math people” – or to put a finer point on it, there are math people and there are “humanities people”.  The math people enjoy equations, technology, pocket protectors, and comic book conventions. The humanities people attend Renaissance festivals, enjoy Shakespearean insults, despise popular books, and often lurk in coffeehouses. At least, those are a few of the stereotypes. It seems that many people view such categories as naturally arising, determined only by the bent of the individual and his inclination towards a given subject or discipline. While that likely plays some role, it leaves us a bit puzzled over the great minds of history that seemed incapable of deciding whether they were math people or humanities people. Consider: Pythagoras (c. 580-500 B.C.) was a mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. Plato (c. 428-348 B.C.) was such a stunning thinker that his dialogues are still used to teach philosophy, rhetoric, mathematics, logic, and ethics. Aristotle’s (384-322 B.C.) writings covered physics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, government, zoology, and more. St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was a rhetoric teacher, philosopher, and theologian. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) served as a statesman and linguist, as well as a poet. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) though remembered for his Canterbury Tales, was also an accomplished alchemist and astronomer. This list could be greatly extended, but hopefully you can see the point – the overspecialization and segmentation of learning found in modern education is an unfortunate and recent phenomenon.  Classical education, rightly understood, aims at the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on what is good, true, and...

The Classical Difference

Classical education does not offer a slight adjustment to the curriculum. It is a much more fundamental and inclusive change in paradigm. The classical difference affects what we teach and how we teach, govern, and assess. It even affects the vocabulary we use to express our vision. Different words are used and emphasized (such as “trivium”, “quadrivium”, “virtue”, etc.), while some of the words that are common to classical and contemporary education carry significantly richer meanings (such as “science”, “liberal arts”, etc.). We teach differently because we have a different perspective on the Child. We don’t believe that a child is a fortuitous blob of protoplasm waiting to be decomposed. We believe that she is nothing less than the Divine Image, an icon of the invisible God. She must not, therefore, be taught following techniques developed to instruct beasts. She must not be reduced to mere chemical responses to electrical stimuli. She must be taught personally, in relationship. We teach different things because we have loftier goals for the child. We govern differently because we have a more serious perception of our task. We assess our work differently because we have higher standards. We confront the challenge of communication because we don’t conform to the spirit of the age. This paradigm shift creates a number of challenging practical problems, perhaps none of which is more significant than the problem of communicating it to the contemporary audience. Textbook companies, for example, cannot survive if people don’t buy their textbooks. But the market does not buy what it can’t understand–unless it is compelled to do so by bureaucratic forces. Consequently, textbook companies have little choice but to...

What Do We Mean by Classical?

In the 1940’s the British author, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay titled The Lost Tools of Learning. In it she not only calls for a return to the application of the seven liberal arts of ancient education, the first three being the “Trivium” — grammar, logic, rhetoric — she also combines three stages of children’s development to the Trivium. Specifically, she matches what she calls the “Poll-parrot” stage with grammar, “Pert” with logic, and “Poetic” with rhetoric (seeThe Lost Tools Chart). Doug Wilson, a founding board member of the Logos School explained the classical method further in his book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. Cornerstone Academy has been committed to implementing this form of education since the school’s...

Classical Christian Education

Classical Christian education is historic, biblical education. Classical education is based on Scripture Jesus Christ is the chosen and precious cornerstone upon which classical Christian schools are built. (Acts 4:11, I Peter 2:6). He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He prayed for his disciples and asked His Father to “sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17). For education to be true, it must include Jesus Christ and acknowledge the truth of Scripture. Classical Christian educators teach truth to students and live truth before students by acknowledging that God’s word is relevant to each subject and to every activity. As schools purpose to see that everything is consistent with the truth, they help parents obey Paul’s instruction in Ephesians, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition (the paideia, i.e., the rearing of a child, training, discipline, and chastening) of the Lord.” This is similar to the command God instructed Moses to give Israel, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:7) Children were to be taught these commands so that they, their children, and their children after...

The Latin Advantage

Latin is the key to the vocabulary and structure of the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents. — Dorothy Sayers, The National Review Across the nation, studies have shown Latin to be effective in improving… SAT Scores Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently outperform all other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Latin 665 665 666 672 674 681 672 678 All Students 505 506 504 507 508 508 503 502 French 636 633 637 638 642 643 637 637 German 621 625 622 626 627 637 632 632 Spanish 589 583 581 575 575 573 577 574 Hebrew 623 628 629 628 630 620 623 622 1999-2005 Taken from Table 6 in College-Bound Seniors – A Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. 2007 data taken from 2007 College-Bound Seniors-Total Group Profile Report. College Grade Point Averages A study of freshman college student performance conducted by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1985 yielded the following results: Language GPA Latin Students 2.89 No Foreign Language 2.58 Spanish Students 2.76 German Students 2.77 French Students 2.78 Reading Achievement In the District of Columbia, elementary school students who studied Latin developed reading skills that were five months ahead of those who studied no foreign language and four months ahead of those who studied French or Spanish. Two years earlier, the same...

The Lost Tools of Learning

Paper read at a Vacation Course in Education Oxford, 1947 by Dorothy L. Sayers —  Published by E.T. Heron —  by permission David Higham Associates Limited —  That I, whose experience of teaching is extremely limited, and whose life of recent years has been almost wholly out of touch with educational circles, should presume to discuss education is a matter, surely, that calls for no apology. It is a kind of behaviour to which the present climate of opinion is wholly favourable. Bishops air their opinions about economics; biologists, about metaphysics; celibates, about matrimony; inorganic chemists about theology; the most irrelevant people are appointed to highly-technical ministries; and plain, blunt men write to the papers to say that Epstein and Picasso do not know how to draw. Up to a certain point, and provided that the criticisms are made with a reasonable modesty, these activities are commendable. Too much specialisation is not a good thing. There is also one excellent reason why the veriest amateur may feel entitled to have an opinion about education. For if we are not all professional teachers, we have all, at some time or other, been taught. Even if we learnt nothing—perhaps in particular if we learnt nothing—our contribution to the discussion may have a potential value. Without apology, then, I will begin. But since much that I have to say  is highly controversial, it will be pleasant to start with a proposition with which, I feel confident, all teachers will cordially agree; and that is, that they all work much too hard and have far too many things to do. One has only to look at...

Welcome to the Cornerstone Academy Blog

The Cornerstone Academy blog is intended to help you understand why we do what we do at Cornerstone Academy.  Our missions is two fold, we are both classical and Christian so that your child will engage in an education for both their mind and heart.   If you’d like to know more about Classical Education check out these websites: http://www.societyforclassicallearning.org...