This program is designed for the advanced student who desires a classical education.
FROM THE HEADMASTER
Welcome to iSVA – Classical Academy. I am pleased to be the founding headmaster of this innovative, tuition-free program within iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas. But more importantly, I am honored to serve you, parents and students alike.
iSVA – Classical Academy offers a distinctive education for students in grades 3-8 that pursues knowledge, promotes virtue, and prepares students for prosperous lives in a free society.
At iSVA – Classical Academy, the classical liberal arts are prominent. While independent work is built into the schedule, daily synchronous classes via webcam and additional reading and writing expands the iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas’ virtual curriculum.
To learn more about classical education, please see Distinctives of a Classical Education: Knowledge, Virtue, and Liberty.
Shannon M. Nason, Ph.D
DISTINCTIVES OF CLASSICAL EDUCATION:
KNOWLEDGE, VIRTUE, AND LIBERTY
Classical education is a liberal education, the kind of educating for liberty that the ancient Greeks and Romans and the American Founders believed was necessary for citizens to live and participate in a free and just republic. As the ancient Greeks and Romans understood, liberal education was not a matter of social conditioning nor was it a matter of learning skills for the sake of a trade. Rather, it was a matter of becoming fully formed human beings, well rounded in mind and heart, in knowledge and virtue, in wisdom and moral excellence. In II.3 of Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle says that moral excellence has to do with pleasure and pain. What does this mean?
It means that in order to acquire knowledge and pursue virtue, we have to know what ought to please us and what ought to give us pain. For that reason, Aristotle says, “Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as Plato says, so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; for this is the right education.”
The classical tradition of learning rightly elevates the good, the true, and the beautiful (or the fine) as those things that ought to delight us. Thus, “right education,” centrally involves training young students to know and love what is true, to know, love, and do what is good, and to know, love, and do what is beautiful, fine, and noble. Classical education of this kind is essential for our society. The Founders of America understood this and believed classical education was essential for preserving our Republic. As Terence O. Moore says in “A Classical Education for Modern Times,” “The Founders knew that free government depends not on the decisions of a few politicians but on the wisdom and virtue of a people.” Thus, in the modern context, classical education preserves those principles imparted to us from the ancient writers and teachers as well as our Founders. In this way, the aim of a classical education, unlike progressive forms of education today, is not to give vocational skills or even simply prepare young people to go to college. It is an education, rather, in knowledge, virtue, and liberty.
For these reasons, a classical education involves a content-rich curriculum which is rooted in the “classics”—the great books and ideas in literature, history, philosophy, science, fine arts, and mathematics. Classical literature, to give one example, deals with themes pertaining to human nature, and questions about what it means to be human, but it also deals with central themes concerning moral and intellectual virtue and vice. We find characters who model temperance, courage, and prudence. And we find characters who pursue and display intellectual virtues like knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Reading literature, then, is an essential component to learning how to live well, to become more fully formed. Furthermore, classical literature presents a model of beautiful writing, fine prose, and correct grammar. To learn to write beautifully and correctly, students must read and emulate literature that is beautiful and correct.
Like literature, the study of history is essential to a classical education. Historical study is not meant simply to teach us where we’ve come from and where we as a people might be headed. It is also essential for being culturally literate. Without knowledge of our history, we cannot debate it, draw causal connections between events, or think logically about how history influences our present or our future. Historical knowledge also teaches us about human character. History is not simply about facts and dates, it gives us insight into the human condition, the search for truth, for justice, and for liberty. It’s a teacher, and the individuals that populate our history—the virtuous as well as the vicious—can become models for how to live well or not.
The great ideas of philosophy throughout history gives students insight into not only what it looks like to pursue knowledge and to love what is true, it also gives students an indication of just how important the world of ideas, right reasoning, and dialectic are for living a life with others in a free society.
More importantly, a student in a classical education setting ultimately does not learn any of these areas or domains of knowledge in isolation from each other. Certainly, in the early, grammar school years, students will be spending more time learning facts about history, learning language, and grammar. However, there’s a point in a child’s education when it is important to begin seeing the interrelation of literature, history, philosophical ideas, science, and art. It is not sufficient simply to know about these domains. Students must begin to draw connections between them, put them in context, and see causal relationships between them. A classical education, then, promotes not only knowledge of facts, it promotes thinking about facts and the training in and use of logic and dialectic. For this reason, students starting in eighth grade begin formal studies in logic.
Young people need to begin the great work of human formation early on, which is not only fitting for people who live in a free society, but which also is necessary for preserving our republic.
iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas is an open-enrollment charter school. Students who meet Texas enrollment criteria for virtual students are eligible to enroll in iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas.
Within iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas, we offer various programs based upon the academic needs of our students. iSVA – Classical Academy is designed to serve advanced students who passed STAAR the previous year or who earned at least satisfactory scores on diagnostic tests in math and reading. Our team will schedule diagnostic tests before the start of school in the fall.