A classical education is the cultivation of wisdom by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences.
Classical education follows two streams that work together:
- The Rhetorical, in which teachers help students learn from great works of literature and art.
- The Philosophical, in which teachers guide their students through the analysis of ideas with Socratic dialogue.
These two streams are the two ways of knowing literacy and numeracy (seven liberal arts and four sciences); and it does so with a distinct approach to detail, content and mastery not to be found in all schools.
The Seven Liberal Arts
The Seven Liberal Arts are the arts of thinking: those tools and skills traditionally deemed necessary to free one’s mind from the base, the expedient and the mediocre. They are intended to draw a student out of himself, allowing him to see truths that are timeless, unchanging and not of his own making.
The first three of these arts–grammar, logic and rhetoric–are often called the trivium, or the arts of language. For the students at Hagia Sophia, this means mastering the forms of language by learning and using the highly inflected Greek and Latin languages. It also means learning to sort sense from nonsense in the structure of arguments and fallacies in reasoning. It means learning to use language in compelling ways by applying argument, arrangement and style in both written and oral presentations.
The remaining liberal arts – often called the quadrivium – are known as the mathematical arts and include in our program the modern mathematical studies as well as the axiomatic and deductive studies characteristic of Euclid’s Elements.
The Four Sciences
Each of the Four Sciences is a mode of inquiry or domain of knowing. “Science” comes from the Latin word “scientia” which means knowledge and is by no means limited to the knowledge provided by the natural sciences. The Four Sciences include the natural sciences, the humane or moral sciences, the philosophical sciences, and the science of theology. This order is rooted in the common experience of all people everywhere. The goal of a science is to know the causes of things.
The classical content of our curriculum refers to those traditional works of literature, history, philosophy and theology that embody perennial truths of the human soul and which remain compelling because they present these truths in memorable, or beautiful, ways. These classics are admired not because they are old; rather they are admired because they have continued to ring true with people of many eras, cultures, and tongues. The classics provide the most thoughtful reflections on the meaning and potential of human life. They introduce students into a conversation which spans centuries and millennia and, in so doing, they have the further potential of freeing young people from the tyranny of fads, tribes, and the cult of mediocrity.
Foundational to the curriculum of Hagia Sophia Classical Academy is the belief that everything we teach is grounded in knowing that the LOGOS (Jesus Christ) is the source of all Truth. With that pervading Christian worldview at the heart of everything we do, the curriculum of Hagia Sophia Academy focuses on:
- Mastery of the classical languages (Latin and Greek)
- Discipline of the maths
- Understanding of the great works of Western civilization
- Study and practice of the arts and sciences
All students who graduate from Hagia Sophia Academy will exceed the requirements of an Indiana Honors Diploma.
The Academy places each student into one of three areas of education: Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. The students are placed in a certain Level (Grammar), or Form (Dialectic and Rhetoric) based upon their individual academic, social and spiritual abilities and needs. Note, however, that many school functions and activities combine all Forms. Older students mentor the younger ones, and younger ones often lead the way in enthusiasm and unreserved delight. Everyone together, from the youngest to the oldest, participates in prayer, worship and service to others.
The Structure of Hagia Sophia Academy’s Classical Forms and Levels (these are guidelines adjusted to fit specific students and class groups)
|Ages 6-8+||Ages 9-11+||Ages 12-14+|
|Level I (1st yr)
Level II (2nd yr)
Level III (3rd yr)
|Level IV (4th yr)
Level V (5th yr)
Level VI (6th yr)
|Form I (7th yr)
Form II (8th yr)
Form III (9th yr)
Grammar & Dialectic Stages
Grammar: Levels I-VI (Grades 1-6)
Studies in these years take advantage of the impressive abilities and ease with which the young are able to memorize and learn by rote. At this age, memorization and the acquisition of new skills and information is pleasurable on the whole. Students are taught many of the tools they need for school and life. An excitement for learning and a sense of the satisfaction of working hard is cultivated in the heart and mind of each student. Daily prayer, study of the Scriptures, and stories from the lives of the saints integrate Christian worldview, understanding and practice with academic growth.
Dialectic: Forms I-III (Grades 7-9)
While there is certainly overlap between the forms, the dialectic age is characterized by contradicting, answering back, liking to trick or “trip people up” (especially one’s elders); and by the propounding of conundrums. Its nuisance value is extremely high. This, then, begins the age of reason marked largely by the questioning of what the student originally learned by rote. Dialectic students go back over many of the same topics they were introduced to in the Grammar Form, studying them in greater depth. These years evoke a mix of familiarity and strangeness, of “I remember studying this!” and “I never thought about it that way before.” While some of this might look like rebellion, the clash of ideas is simply a part of the growing up of the man and woman. Cultivation in virtue and character, while training the young men and women in the proper use of reasoning, guides them – as with a compass – and prepares them for the rougher waters to come.
Early Grammar Levels
Levels I, II & III (Grades 1-3)
Language arts are the backbone of the early years. By Grammar, Level III, students read simple chapter books fluently, write correct sentences and paragraphs, read or listen to a story, retell stories both orally and in writing, memorize and recite poetry. They have read themselves, or had read to them, a variety of excellent children’s literature. The language arts focus for the Early Grammar Form will be in the areas of:
• Phonics and Grammar
• Reading and Writing
• Speaking and Listening
• Spelling and Penmanship
Neatness, accuracy, understanding, and competence are the goals in arithmetic. Through this study students begin to see and understand the underlying patterns of creation. The arithmetic focus for the Early Grammar Form will be in the areas of:
• Counting and Number Theory
• Measurement and Money
• Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication
• Introduction to Graphs, Shapes and Fractions
Songs, chants, memorization, simple vocabulary, stories, and studies in Roman life form the Early Grammar introduction to Latin.
At this level students are encouraged and nurtured to observe, appreciate and enjoy the natural world. Theme studies, demonstrations, and outdoor activities combine with memorization of facts and reading of biographies and other good literature to build a foundation for a poetic knowledge of the natural universe.
History and Geography
These subjects are literature-based, focusing on understanding of human differences and similarities across time and space. Students learn continents and seas, as well as lifestyles of earlier peoples, especially the Greeks, Romans and Americans. Some memorization does occur, but sequential and detailed teaching of history and geography is more appropriately taught at the upper forms.
These classes are a regular and important part of the curriculum and are a most natural way to help set a foundation for the instinctive yearning for Truth, Goodness and Beauty. The arts teach physical coordination and skills as well as the ability to work with others. Students are introduced to our rich history of glorifying God through the arts. The arts focus for the Early Grammar Form will be in the areas of music, art, drama and physical arts – Tae Kwon Do.
Late Grammar Levels
Levels IV, V & VI (Grades 4-6)
During the Late Grammar Form students expand their reading to include classics of literature appropriate to their age and ability and begin to analyze structures and logic in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Writing moves from the essay in Late Grammar IV to the research paper in Late Grammar V and VI. Imitation of great writers is foundational. Students give gradually more demanding oral presentations.
The language arts focus for the Late Grammar Form will be in the areas of: reading, introduction to literature, listening, writing, introduction to rhetoric, penmanship, grammar, spelling and speaking
By the end of Late Grammar Form VI all students master the study of arithmetic. Teaching focuses equally on memorizing, understanding, and applying, as appropriate for each age level. The arithmetic focus for the Late Grammar Form will be in the areas of: all operations; fractions, decimals and percentages; measurement and money; graphs and charts; introduction to geometry and algebra; word problems and life application.
Latin is taught as a formal subject with textbooks. Students begin studying grammar, vocabulary, and translation. A careful balance is struck between rote memorization and the excitement of decoding and interpretation. Students enter the Dialectic Form with a basic understanding of grammar, a sizable vocabulary and a habit of accurate translation.
God has revealed Himself in His creation. We are privileged to see Him through the observation and study of the natural world and approach the subject with diligence and humility. The focus for the Late Grammar Form will be in the areas of:
- Late Grammar IV: Learning Observation through Natural History
- Late Grammar V: Earth and Physical Science
- Late Grammar VI: Life Science
At this level the Humane Letters class encompasses history, geography, and literature. By Late Grammar Form VI students know all the countries and capitals of the world and have a foundation to understand the complexities of time, space, and culture in human history. The humane letters focus for the Late Grammar Form will be in the areas of:
- Late Grammar IV: Ancient History and Early Cultures around the World
- Late Grammar V: Medieval and Renaissance History and the Age of Exploration
- Late Grammar VI: American History
Arts classes are integral to the daily curriculum. At this age students are introduced to standards of beauty and excellence and trained in both Godly aesthetics and skillful execution. In choir students sing the great music of Christian culture and participate in Divine Liturgy and at concerts. The arts focus for the Late Grammar Form will be in the areas of: choir, art, drama and physical arts – Tae Kwon Do.
Dialectic Forms I, II & III (Grades 7-9)
At this age students are naturally ready to question and probe more deeply into what they have learned.
Literature, language arts, history and geography are integrated in this class, which typically meets several hours a day. The humane letters focus for the Dialectic Form will be in the areas of:
- Dialectic I: Tales and Poetry of the Middle Ages
- Dialectic II: Reforms, Revolutions, and New Worlds
- Dialectic III: The Bible and the Ancient Greeks
- Dialectic I: Pre-Algebra
- Dialectic II: Algebra 1
- Dialectic III: Algebra 2
Students master grammar and expand their vocabulary while beginning to read Latin literature and memorize and recite famous works.
- Dialectic I: Earth Science
- Dialectic II: Physical Science
- Dialectic III: Biology
Foundational to Hagia Sophia Academy is the belief by the entire faculty that all subjects and all Forms at the Academy are grounded in the understanding that the LOGOS is the source of all Truth. In addition to this all-encompassing and overarching Christian worldview, Dialectic students will begin the formal study of Christianity and other religions. The Christian studies focus for the Dialectic Form will be in the areas of:
- Dialectic I: The Bible
- Dialectic II: Church History
- Dialectic III: World Religions
- Music Theory and Music History
- Art Technique
- Art Appreciation and Art History
- Physical Arts: Tae Kwon Do