Many people have asked why we chose the classical education model for the Academy for Classical Education curriculum, and if this model will fit all students. Our answer to this is that as founders we believe that the current educational model is simply not working. It is easy to stop there with that simple assertion, but that is not in our character. Because something is not working cries out for us to find something that does work and we believe the classical curriculum works. It works because it takes a back-to-basics approach. Young ACE Scholars will learn to read, write and do arithmetic. They will memorize poems, speeches, multiplication tables, math facts, elements on the periodic chart, the planets, the names of continents, oceans, cities and states, the sequence of history and much, much more. They will learn the discipline of learning. They will learn what a cell is before they will learn what a cell does. They will memorize the Gettysburg Address before they can learn to debate its merits. In other words, our ACE Scholars will learn the grammar of their subjects, the rules and regulations of the subjects, before they will move on to the next level. Once a student has mastered the grammar of that subject he is ready to move forward. From learning what a cell is and what a cell does he can explore why some cells mutate in a beneficial way and some in a negative way. They will painstakingly parse the great speeches of American history before they will begin to truly understand why our government is “by the people and for the people.” Only after recognizing the parts of a sentence will they begin diagramming sentences, and then they will move on to creating paragraphs of worth and merit. They will master spelling and punctuation because these are integral parts of a well-written document. ACE Scholars will have homework; each student, each day.
Another integral part of the classical education model has to do with character development. Our students will be expected to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do; NOT because a teacher or a parent is watching. They will do right inside and outside the walls of ACE because they know that is an expectation of their parents and their school. Making excuses and using blame to deflect bad behavior will not be accepted at ACE…from anyone, at any time. We recognize that students have issues that might inhibit the speed of their success, but behavior cannot be the excuse for that issue. There is no reasonable argument for defiance, unruliness, or the defying of authority at ACE. Parents who feel that there is room for this are reminded that as a charter school, ACE is a choice. Choosing to attend means negative behaviors of any kind or for any reason must be left behind.
As to whether this curriculum will fit all students, the answer is that we believe all young people will benefit from a rigorous, content-rich, educational program that develops academic potential and personal character. By teaching and practicing the habits of effort, willingness, perseverance, temperance, justice, humility, honesty, politeness, gratitude to name a few, and by modeling these characteristics ACE Scholars will stand head and shoulders above their traditionally schooled peers.
At ACE, it is not our goal to reinvent the wheel because the wheel is there. Socrates, Aristotle, Bach, Jefferson, Churchill, Mandela and many more great thinkers have established all that is worthwhile to be learned and this is our focus. We will learn from the past in order to build a better future. It is not our intent to program little machines but rather to create great minds and strong characters in our students. All that was old is new again and this will be the foundation for ACE.
For parents who want to see that the intellectual potential of their child will be developed through the use of traditional teaching methods and a curriculum that is over 2500 years old but who also want their child to grow and learn in an atmosphere of caring and discipline, ACE is the place. As my colleague Greg Evans says: “We at ACE want to be the toughest school your child has ever loved!”
Scientia est Potentia! Laura Perkins