Christian 1. Nurture Wisdom and Moral Virtue 2. Know, Love, and Do that which is True, Good, and Beautiful 3. Seek Grace and Practice Humility 4. Rightly Order Our Loves
Classical 1. Unify All Subjects under God 2. Master Primary Skills 3. Progress through the Trivium 4. Teach Mimetically, Didactically, and Socratically Community 1. Respect Others, Obey Authorities, Perform Our Duties 2. Foster Reverence and Propriety 3. Partner with Parents as Primary Educators 4. Build Together
Every curriculum is guided by metaphysical commitments and every teacher, school, and parent lives within a metaphysical vision of reality. The classical Christian is committed to an idealistic, logo-centric metaphysic. Christ is the Logos, or unifying principle of the classical Christian curriculum.
Classical education seeks to preserve our Western heritage. By "preserving" our Western "heritage" we mean obeying the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers on a cultural and historical scale. Honoring and preserving our heritage is little different than honoring our own mothers and carrying them when they are old, like Aeneas did to his father. A healthy love for heritage should not create animosity toward others, just as loving your own mother best of all doesn't require you to hate other people's mothers. In fact, if a person doesn't have concern for his own household, how can he have concern for others? As Chesterton said, love of Humanity must begin with our nearest neighbors. Further, proper respect and memory of a shared past inculcates a positive view toward the future. As Edmund Burke said, "People will not look forwards to posterity who do not look backwards to their ancestors." As such, Sequitur offers a classical education both in the broad sense of being traditional, time-tested, and intellectually rigorous and in the narrower sense of being centered in a certain body of shared knowledge. A classical education is based on great ideas, great books (including primary sources when possible), foundational truths and principles, and enduring traditions and skills. It holds to established standards. The “classics” at the core of a classical education at Sequitur are works of art, music, literature, history, and science, each of which expresses profound insight, artistic creativity, enduring cultural value, and has not only stood the test of time, but are also the foundation of the Western Civilization and our Christian heritage. By studying the classics, students encounter the most influential thinkers, artists, and writers, and gain an understanding of Western history and culture. The classics are touchstones of excellence, so that by studying them, students learn aesthetic discernment and discrimination and how to soundly judge what is bad or worse, good or best. But much more than this, by filtering the classics through the grid of God’s Word, we impart to students a Christian perspective, which equips them to make moral judgments, not merely about the basic questions of right and wrong, but also about profound ideas, including those that directly clash with Christianity. The classical, Christian education is marked by the teacher’s ability to train students to make critical judgments about such matters— judgments based upon biblical and philosophical truths.
One of the purposes of classical education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom. The classical Christian does not only ask, “What can I do with this learning?” but also “What will this learning do to me?” The ultimate end of classical Christian education is to enable the student (disciple) to better know, glorify, and enjoy God. Since we are able to know things with which we have a common nature, the more we are like God the better we can know Him. A student gives glory to God when he is like Him. Our enjoyment of God is derived from our ability to see Him and to see His handiwork.
Education begins with the cultivation of good taste—that is, a taste for truth, goodness, and beauty. Good taste includes a taste for the virtues of diligence and order. Order is emphasized in the environment of the classical Christian school, the souls that live in it, and the relationships among the people in it. A life of godly wisdom and virtue is countercultural, opposed to current societal values and behavior. Sequitur is unwavering in its commitment to fostering an environment that promotes virtuous living among like-minded families. Virtues are habits that give us the power to act rightly. They are an inner disposition, a sure habit of mind, which settles the question of how students will discharge their duties. They are the building blocks of character and are essential to living the Christian life well. Sequitur desires that its graduates influence and shape their culture for God’s glory. Equipped for leadership, prepared to discover their vocation, and dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, students seek knowledge and understanding in the fear of the Lord. Sequitur seeks to expose children to what will ennoble them (Philippians 4:8). We celebrate acts of courage, works of ministry, and things of beauty. In an effort to support one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), we expect parents to foster a home environment where Sequitur children can interact without parental fear that they will be exposed to worldly experiences that do not honor their own family’s preferences and decisions.
In a Christian school, learning is not an end in itself. Instead, the classical Christian teacher asks God to use his teaching, dispositions, and actions as an instrument in His hand to cultivate the students’ souls toward holiness. In this sense, learning can be a means of grace. Furthermore, courtesy and good manners are not only characteristics of mature ladies and gentlemen but are also important aspects of “lov[ing] your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18), of showing honor and respect to others, and of demonstrating the worthiness of others. Sequitur teaches, reinforces, and encourages good habits in a student’s intellectual, spiritual, moral, and physical life in the belief that the development of a disciplined lifestyle, in the context of a relationship with Jesus Christ, will provide a solid foundation for a responsible and joyful life.
This section flows from On Christian Teachingby Augustine: "Now he is a man of just and holy life who forms an unprejudiced estimate of things, and keeps his affections also under strict control, so that he neither loves what he ought not to love, nor fails to love what he ought to love, nor loves that more which ought to be loved less, nor loves that equally which ought to be loved either less or more, nor loves that less or more which ought to be loved equally. No sinner is to be loved as a sinner; and every man is to be loved as a man for God's sake; but God is to be loved for His own sake. And if God is to be loved more than any man, each man ought to love God more than himself. Likewise we ought to love another man better than our own body, because all things are to be loved in reference to God, and another man can have fellowship with us in the enjoyment of God, whereas our body cannot; for the body only lives through the soul, and it is by the soul that we enjoy God." To fulfill a lower order good, one must proceed to the good of the next highest order (i.e. to fulfill the good of finishing homework, the student must proceed to the slightly higher good of trying to get a good grade; to rightly gain food and shelter we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; to get into the most appropriate college and to do well when we get there, we must seek wisdom and virtue). Failure to recognize this principle in every area of education and life leads to a disordered soul and a school that cannot succeed in what it values most highly. To nurture a rightly ordered souls requires the cultivation of the moral imagination.
Education is an epistemological exercise. This means that everything that happens in education is the enactment of beliefs and assumptions about what it means to know and how a person comes to know. Every school is an apologetic for the epistemology it represents. Classical Christian epistemology is rational, moral, and personal (i.e. it is not the mind, but the person who knows and knowledge is gained personally). It recognizes that students come to know ideas by seeing them embodied in particular instances. The classical world sought for centuries for an integrating principle of all that is and all that can be known. They called this principle the Logos. Classical Christian education integrates all teaching in Christ. He is the “logos” that binds every subject in a universal harmony, makes sense of all things, and lifts learning and knowledge to the realm of eternal meaning. He is the creator of the orderly universe and the Word who explains all words. He is the sun of the solar system, giving order and meaning to the planets, and making them knowable in His light. In Him are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To integrate is to honor the nature of each subject or science and to rightly order each subject in its relations to the other subjects. When a unifying principle is applied to the entire curriculum and philosophy of education, the result is a program characterized by integration, harmony, and a consistency controlled by principles.
All learning depends on prerequisites being mastered before going on to the next level of knowledge. Poetic knowledge is the foundation of all knowledge, academic or otherwise.The seven liberal arts serve as the base of the curriculum. Next come the natural sciences. A person can master the natural sciences only to the degree to which he has mastered the seven liberal arts. After the natural sciences come the humane sciences, or the sciences of human behavior and the soul. The student’s ability to master the humane sciences is dependent on his mastery of the natural sciences. Following the humane sciences in the nature of learning come the metaphysical or philosophical sciences. The student’s ability to master the philosophical sciences is dependent on his mastery of the humane sciences. The capstone of learning is the theological sciences. Again, by the nature of the case, a person is able to master the theological sciences only to the degree to which he has mastered all the lower arts and sciences. The removal of Christ as the Logos of the curriculum has led to the disintegration of learning and the specialization of subjects without regard for the prerequisite studies or the relationships and interdependences of subjects. Practically, classical Christian education seeks to integrate and order the elements of the curriculum around the issues raised in the Humane Letters program. Education is a humane activity, not merely naturalistic scientific; therefore the humane studies are recognized as universally prioritized. Consequently, the ideal classical Christian teacher will have attained mastery at least to the level of the humane sciences (literature, history, ethics, and politics). This mastery need not be theoretical. It is more important to be able to “do” than to be able to explain how to do something. Classical Christian education deals deeply with few subjects, rather than hastily with many. The subjects reflect her emphasis on the seven liberal arts, mastery of which develops the content and skills that flow through all of the modern subjects. The classical Christian opposes premature specialization (specific training in a given subject or skill for its own sake or for practical purposes, e.g. literature, drafting, etc.) or meaningless generalization, seeking instead an education that consistently recognizes the relationship of all skills and subjects to each other and teaches the foundational skills that every later subject requires.
Education should correspond to the growth of the child (which Dorothy Sayers, among others, outlines generally), but in so doing the quality and depth of the instruction must not be sacrificed to the interests or even the skills of the child. The purpose of childhood is training for adulthood, not amusement. The Trivium—referring to the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages of learning—was the foundation of classical education, based on a Greco-Roman model developed during the Middle Ages. It consisted of the “aspects of the liberal arts that pertain to the training of the mind.” What is most important about the Trivium is not that it organizes a curriculum or provides a rigid formula for stages of cognitive development, but that it centers on language: grammar—learning the basics of language; logic—learning to organize language to express one’s ideas cohesively; and rhetoric—learning to articulate logically sound arguments in grammatically correct and eloquent language. The ultimate goal of the Trivium is to teach students the proper use of the tools of learning before they apply them to all subjects. Sequitur's curriculum is informed by a proper understanding of the Trivium. In the lower class levels—and this greatly distinguishes a Sequitur education from the “progressive” model found in most schools today—the emphasis is on facts and memory work. Thus, all courses of study begin with basic information—whether phonograms, math facts, maps, or specimen collections. As students mature, the coursework focuses additionally on gathering and interpreting information and on its limitations and logical implications. Ultimately, students learn to articulately present what they have learned, both orally and in writing. But Sequitur students develop through all the stages almost from the beginning, as younger students not only learn facts but also reason from and write about what they have learned, and older students continue to add new, more complex factual information to their store of knowledge in all of their studies. Therefore, Sequitur's curriculum carefully trains students in language, is grounded in rich content, and equips students with God’s Truth and sound reason to guide their thinking.
From the most ancient times, teachers have recognized that teaching moves in one of two directions: from the particular instance to the universal idea (induction), or from the universal idea to the particular instance (deduction). Two modes of instruction were developed to optimize the power in these movements: the Didactic mode and the Socratic mode, each of which incorporates elements of both induction and deduction. The classical Christian teacher will strive to master both of these modes of teaching, fitting his own individual strengths and tastes into their parameters. Speaking precisely, there is no classical methodology when a method is understood to mean a strictly repeated process with a predictable outcome. There are no strictly repeated processes that can educate a human soul and there are no meaningful outcomes that are sufficiently predictable. The ideal classical Christian teacher will have attained mastery to the level of the humane sciences (literature, history, ethics, and politics). This mastery need not be theoretical. It is more important to be able to “do” than to be able to explain how to do something. Every classical Christian teacher needs to be committed to growing in his mastery of all seven liberal arts and the school needs to provide opportunity for that growth. In addition, the ideal classical Christian teacher speaks with authority on the arts and sciences he teaches. To speak with authority is to speak with judgment, a capacity made possible when one understands the causes of a thing. Furthermore, Sequitur employs faculty who exhibit a calling to teach, who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject, who are skilled in their pedagogy, and who love children. Faculty members at Sequitur are to be scholars themselves—incessant readers and lifetime learners and researchers. Each member of the faculty must be determined to teach the best material by the most effective means, never content simply to rehash old class notes or lesson plans. Sequitur teachers are to enthusiastically engage one another in dialogue and debate about the philosophy, content, and methods that constitute the best education. The faculty must stimulate and challenge one another because curriculum is never finished but is always subject to refinement. The faculty members must engage and improve each other because, in the words of educator David Hicks, the faculty is the “school within the school.” At the same time, faculty members recognize that instruction must be coordinated for consistency for students of different teachers.
On Respect: The child is a living and eternal soul to be nourished, not a product to be molded. In general, organic metaphors are much more suited to reflection on the nature of a child than industrial metaphors or statistical data. On Authority: The lesser is blessed by the greater “without controversy.” Teachers do not seek to sink down to the level of the student but to raise the student to the level of the teacher. A wall of separation is maintained between the teacher and the student. Submission and deference guide those who are lower in the hierarchy, while humility and duty guide those who are higher; authority is derived from the role and people are hired only when they have the qualifications, i.e. the prerequisites demanded by the nature of the position, to fulfill the duties implied in the role. On Obedience: Scripture teaches that all authority is derived from God and that the powers that be are ordained by God (Romans 13:1-3). Thus, God has ordained government, church, and family as the structures of authority through which He accomplishes His purposes in the world. Therefore, every individual will be held responsible before God for his responses to authority. It is Sequitur's duty (working in harmony with parents) to train its students for future success by demonstrating to them, and requiring of them, an obedient, submissive, God-honoring response toward those in authority over them. Therefore, Sequitur students are taught to practice prompt, first-time obedience; to be always respectful in word, tone, and facial expression; and not to whine, complain, or talk back.
Reverence: The tone of the school, the conduct of the teachers, the relationships among all members of the school community, and the language used in the Classical Christian school are characterized by reverence. Awe, sublimity, and joyful solemnity describe the atmosphere and are the foundations of submission throughout the school. “Dignitas” and “nobilitas” are demanded of every member of the school community. Propriety: The classical Christian deliberately cultivates a formality in the atmosphere of the school. He seeks, not the artificial formality of the arrogant, but the true formality of the wise who continually seek to give every idea its fitting expression. The guiding principle of classical Christian formality is the appropriateness of the form, not the convenience of the expression.
Parents are their children’s most important educators and shape the attitudes, values and behavior of their children. They are not the “support staff” in the education of children, rather they have the primary responsibility for such a great task. Classical schools work with and for parents. We believe that it is the parent’s responsibility (not the state’s) to educate their children. Our authority over children is delegated to us from parents who have enlisted us to help them in their educational task. We see ourselves as in loco parentis—in the place of parents. This does not mean that they dictate the curriculum or pedagogy; it does mean that teachers serve the parents, listen carefully to their feedback about child and curricula, and seek to forge true relationships with parents in order to best understand and educate their children. It usually means that parents are welcome in the classroom; it means that parents take their responsibility seriously by reviewing and helping with homework, encouraging their child to be disciplined and diligent and generally supporting the teachers and staff of the school. Sequitur also recognizes the proper limits of a school’s role in the education of the students entrusted to it and the responsibility of parents to rear their children as they are convicted, called, and led by the Lord. Toward that end, Sequitur
Encourages parents to train their children in Godly habits;
Listens to parents’ concerns and questions, and values their parental wisdom and input;
Defers to parents the introduction of sensitive topics, such as sex education; and
Avoids introducing elements of popular culture in order to allow parents to have the freedom to introduce these cultural influences when they think it is appropriate for their family.
Limits the length of school days for more family time and developing special interests;
Values and includes playtime for young students;
Limits school field trips to educational ones;
Defers most decisions for Christian and community service to the family, so that family time will not be stretched;
Permits no solicitation of the school community for outside ministries and missions;
Avoids lavish fundraising events that require lengthy volunteer hours and months of preparation by parents.
Relationships are the strength of our community. This is true in many areas, from co-laboring in shared projects and the advice of many counselors, to building social trust and resolving disputes. This is also true because of the nature of Sequitur’s size and its youthful stages of growth - we need our parents! As such, Sequitur seeks to foster healthy ties between home and school in order to work together in harmony as we train up our youth and build a long-lasting institution. To do this well a clear order and open and constant flow of communication is needed. Sequitur seeks parents to participate in specific school activities such as field trips, the Parents’ Guild, and the House System. These are parent-led efforts to foster social relationships, as well as educational experiences. Furthermore, the intention of Sequitur's formal events is to be times of camaraderie and fellowship rather than transactional marketing or entrepreneurial programs. Sequitur seeks to provide an atmosphere of trust, love, joy, and peace. When this atmosphere is jeopardized by conflict, we are committed to restoring broken relationships and reconciling problems biblically in ways that both please and glorify God and restore the relationship with the person with whom the conflict exists. Specifically, this applies to a commitment to first address the problem directly with the people involved and not bypass them by going up the line of authority; nor by discussing with outside parties. If the matter is not resolved, one may proceed up the proper chain (see Matthew 18:15-20). At all times, humility is expected and a restoration of the relationship and trust is the goal.