Curricula: The Educational Programs
The New Hope Academy philosophy calls for a determinedly high quality educational program, and we have selected VERITAS Press for its Christian, classical materials.
We used three criteria in our search for curricula:
- Christian (Christ-centered, Biblically-based)
- Classical (Trivium of Grammar-Dialectic-Rhetoric and Quadrivium of subjects in detail)
- Cutting Edge (using the most advanced computer technology available).
1. Why Classical ?
In 1947, Dorothy Sayers wrote in The Lost Tools of Learning, “If we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages.”
- Ms. Sayers goes on to ask (remember this was in 1947) some disquieting questions. “The modern boy and girl are certainly taught more subjects-but does that always mean they actually know more?”
- “Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout [the Western World] is higher than it has ever been, people should become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard-of and unimagined?”
- “Do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of [students] of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible?”
- “Have you ever, in listening to a debate among adults and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the other side?”
- “Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget much of what they have learned, but forget also, or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves?”`
We agree, and have chosen to follow the suggestions of teaching the Trivium of Grammar-Dialectic-Rhetoric, followed by the Quadrivium (subjects in detail). Modern educational philosophies concentrate on teaching subjects, leaving critical thinking, arguing, and expressing one’s conclusions to be “picked up as the student goes along” (or not); classical education concentrates on first forging and learning to handle the tools of learning, using the subjects at hand on which to practice until the use of the tools became second nature.
2. Why Christian?
“To teach a child there is no God is to train a fool.”
God (Jesus Christ) has challenged His followers to “…go into all the world…teaching all He has commanded…” (Matthew 28:19-20). God placed the burden of teaching children on parents (Matthew 22:37), providing direction for living through His Word, the Bible, (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:1-4), and understanding that “in Him [Christ] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-18).
Directionless, nonaligned education is by definition impossible; worldview assumptions are always made. These assumptions will be based either on Biblical truth, or cultural/world/social views. God is (as He intended to be) the Light in which we see and understand everything. Without Him the world is a fragmented pile of stuff, no longer a universe, but now a multiverse. French philosopher Sartre understood this and wrote that without an infinite reference point, all finite points are absurd. We believe it is impossible to impart true knowledge without building on religious presuppositions. Education is always built upon the educator’s worldview, and worldview of those who developed the curriculum.
3. Why Cutting Edge ?
School-aged children today quite literally ‘think differently’, being often called ‘digital natives’. Kip Leland, of the Los Angeles Unified School District says: “Today’s kids are not ADD as much as they are EOE: Engage me or enrage me.” Students have said, “Whenever I go to school I have to ‘power down’.” Evidence is quickly mounting that our children’s brains are adapting to accommodate the new technologies with which they spend so much time, and these technologies have literally re-wired their brains to move at far faster speeds than any other generation thus far.
From “Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning,” pp 8-9:
In 2004, University of Rochester neuroscientists made headlines with their finding that playing action, video and computer games positively affects players’ ‘visual selective attention.’ Plainly stated this means that children are learning how to identify and concentrate on the most important points, and filter out the rest.
No one tells children in advance the rules of their computer and video games – they have to figure them out by playing. This is much like science, say researchers – kids who play these games learn to deduce (critical thinking) a game’s rules from the facts they observe.
Children who play these complex games learn how to think, through what scientists call ‘enlightened trial and error.’ They learn to create strategies for overcoming obstacles. They learn to get data from many sources, pulling it together into a coherent picture and making good decisions quickly. They become experts at multitasking and parallel processing. They become adept at collaborating with others, over a range of networks.”
Using a blend of text, videos, and animation to captivate students with a stimulating learning environment, each child will experience an “odyssey of learning.” With this 21st century technology we promote academic success:
- Students will learn willingly things that today we struggle to teach them
- Teachers will have more time to focus on students as individuals and on content that is less repetitious and more out-of-the-ordinary.
- Parents will be able to observe their kids learning.