Torn about possible opportunity for son (long) — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Torn about possible opportunity for son (long)

My DS is in kindergarten at a STEM magnet school that we love.  The teachers and principal are top notch and we love the school.  It is very diverse but they do a good job of ensuring that kids are challenged regardless of where they are at (kids are broken into small reading/math groups several times a week to work on skills, ect).  My DS is very STEM-minded and excels in areas that are technology based.  This school is close to our home (which we are renting).

Prior to starting Kindergarten last fall we had looked at an opportunity for a Classical Academy Charter school.  We like the classical approach but did not get in due to the overwhelming number of applicants.  We have been happy with the STEM school and really felt like it was "meant to be" that he didn't get into the other one.  The classical academy is very close to our work.

I decided to enter the lottery for the classical academy, just in case, and we found out he is #1 on the waiting list currently and now we feel like we need to make a decision.  We are planning to buy a home in the fall and beyond liking the school it would also allow us to look for homes outside of the area we are currently in.  He is doing so well at the STEM school and we like the small size and family-feel.  I am also concerned that he will not get enough science/technology at the charter school.

Is anyone familiar with the Classical teaching method?  Any insight? 

Re: Torn about possible opportunity for son (long)

  • Well, it sounds like you're really in a win-win situation really.  You've got two great options out there!

    I don't know a ton about "classical" education magnet schools, but I know that often when educators refer to "classical" education, they mean an education that follows the Latin trivium: grammar stage, logic stage, then rhetoric stage.  

    In the grammar stage (approx grades 1 to 4) students learn not just the grammar of the English language, but the information that makes the building blocks for later study of all subjects.  For instance, a typical second grade unit on plants in a public elementary school would probably involve learning the most basic parts of the plant, have a chance to grow plants and observe them, work on the skill of collecting data, using a ruler to measure things, write and draw pictures of their plants, learn about the role of plants in an ecosystem, etc.  In a classical education model, students would grow plants, observe them, record data about them, and also learn a LOT more terminology about plant parts and plant types.  The theory is that students at this developmental stage are hard-wired for acquiring and memorizing facts, so why not take advantage of that ability and save higher-order thinking for a later stage, when they are more adept with that type of thinking.  

    Logic stage, which is approximately grades 5 to 8, is where kids begin to do more higher order analysis: thinking in terms of cause and effect, categorizing, prioritizing, etc.  In the rhetoric stage -- a.k.a. high school grades -- students have compiled enough knowledge and skills to begin to make much broader connections and to write essays that are persuasive arguments that synthesize sources, etc.

    Honestly, I would visit the classical magnet school and see if you get a good feeling about it.  Talk to the admissions person, the principal, or a classroom teacher and see if you like it.  I'd also talk with other parents, if you can, and see what they think are the pros and cons of each school.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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