What is Classical Education?

Classical curriculum focuses on a three-part process of training the mind. The grammar phase (the early years of school) is spent absorbing facts, while systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the logic phase (middle grades), students learn to think through the facts they previously learned and construct arguments with those facts. In the rhetoric phase (later grade years), they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium. Knowledge, reasoning, and self-expression play a part in all stages. Belton Prep is chartered to serve grades K5-8 and will address the first two stages of the trivium. We will also offer Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots as part of our language curriculum beginning in third grade.

The Grammar Stage

These are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years, the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age find memorization fun, especially when it is presented through songs and rhymes. During this period, education involves learning of facts rather than learning through self-expression and self-discovery. Instruction is focused on rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.

The Logic Stage

Around fifth grade, a child’s mind begins to think more analytically. Middle school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking “Why?” They begin to pay attention to cause and effect and to the relationships between different fields of knowledge. A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. The logic of reading, for example, involves the criticism and analysis of texts, not the mere absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; and the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method.

The Rhetoric Stage

This stage builds on the first two. At this point, the later grade student learns to write and speak with originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, elegant language.

Character development is an essential component of classical education.

The classical model assumes that character can and should be shaped. At Belton Preparatory Academy, students and staff will display and demonstrate virtue, character, and integrity. Character formation is a lifelong pursuit, much of it happening long after instruction in the trivium. The examples that students are exposed to now in good literature will give them something to draw on for many years to come.

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools, they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and do not have special entrance requirements.

The core of the charter school model is the belief that public schools should be held accountable for student learning. In exchange for this accountability, school leaders should be given the freedom to do whatever it takes to help students achieve and should share what works with the broader public school system so that all students benefit.

In the early 1990s, a small group of educators and policymakers came together to develop the charter school model. Minnesota’s legislature passed the first charter law in 1991, and the first charter school opened in 1992.

Why Charter Schools?

 All children should have the opportunity to achieve at a high level, and charter schools are meeting that need:

  • Charter schools are some of the top-performing schools in the country
  • Charter schools are closing the achievement gap by raising the bar of what’s possible – and what should be expected – in public education
  • A higher percentage of charter students are accepted into a college or university

How Do Charter Schools Work?

Charter schools foster a partnership between parents, teachers, and students. They create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are allowed to innovate, and students are provided the structure they need to learn. Some specific examples of how charter schools are working to improve student achievement include:

  • Adjusting curriculum to meet student needs. A charter school can break up the day to provide students with more time on the core subjects they need most. Charter school teachers have a say in the curriculum they teach and can change materials to meet students’ needs.
  • Creating a unique school culture. Charter schools build upon the core academic subjects by creating a school culture or adopting a theme. For example, charter schools may focus on Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) education, performing arts, college preparation, career readiness, language immersion, or meeting the needs of dyslexic students — just to name a few.
  • Developing next-generation learning models. Charter schools are rethinking the meaning of the word “classroom.” In Hawaii, students learn biology with the sky as their ceiling and the ocean as the classroom. Other schools combine online classroom time with classroom time in a physical school building. Excellent charter school networks like KIPP and Uncommon Schools are codifying how to develop an excellent teacher.

Purpose of Charter Schools

The purpose of “South Carolina Charter Schools Act of 1996” is to:

  1. Improve student learning
  2. Increase learning opportunities for students
  3. Encourage the use of a variety of productive teaching methods
  4. Establish new forms of accountability for schools
  5. Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site
  6. Assist South Carolina in reaching academic excellence
  7. Create new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system, with the goal of closing achievement gaps between low-performing student groups and high-performing student groups

Who Can Sponsor a Charter School in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, applications to start new schools may be made to the following entities:

  • A local School District in which the proposed school is located
  • The South Carolina Public Charter School District
  • A public or independent institution of higher learning that is registered as a Sponsor with the South Carolina Department of Education

The South Carolina State Department of Education received the Charter Institute at Erskine’s registration to sponsor Charter Schools in May of 2017. The Charter Institute reviews applications for new charters, grants charters, and oversees the accountability and public stewardship of the schools in the Charter Institute.

To learn more, visit: http://www.publiccharters.org/get-the-facts/public-charter-schools/