A Renewed Model for Classical Education
In the middle ages communities began to form schools inside the cathedrals. At first the schools were designed to educate clergy, but soon evolved into small, usually one hundred person schools, which prepared students for leading positions within the medieval society: leaders of church, state, and the new commercial enterprises that helped to lead Europe out of the “dark ages.”
Soon the high quality and individual training of students, led to the founding of the great European universities, still places of prestigious learning today.
The new Dominion Academy Cathedral School program seeks to replicate the high quality of their medieval counterpart with a view to leadership in today's global marketplace. To conceptualize this program the architectural language of the medieval cathedral defines the components:
Portals are the doors to the cathedral. In our program, the portals are the entrance, the starting place for the rest of the program.
Buttresses hold up the walls of cathedrals so that they can be built to soaring heights. Buttresses reinforce and enrich a student's education.
Cathedral vaults are the intricate ceilings soaring far above the foundation. Our students discover new heights in the STEM and Humanities Vaults.
The pinnacle of a cathedral - a spire is visible to a community for miles. The Spire Day is the pinnacle of our program because it culminates in service to the community.
Classic Fiction readers teach characterization, plot and point of view and acquaint students with the classics. Spelling lists reinforce grammar through grade appropriate vocabulary and phonetic essentials. Grammar is the building block of later language curricula.
Math fundamentals are taught using Saxon Math.
History, geography, and social studies are integrated together, focusing on the themes of history: social, political, and economic as students learn to think like historians and use their imaginations to travel back in time.
Elementary Science lessons throughout the prep school will give students exposure to all science disciplines each year through hands-on activities and lab experiments.
Buttress days both reinforce portals and the added components make the program soar to the heights of classical education. Reading Circles are times to hear aloud classical stories and poems. More in-depth spelling connected to Latin Roots provide a deeper classical foundation.
Preparation for history studies starts with early foundations in memorization of dates, timelines, and mapping/geography skills.
Added science afternoons (two days/week) will allow students to more actively explore the computer, robotics and computer-interactive science. Nature studies, where students get outside, look and observe nature will be planned for Friday Spire days to supplement STEM vaults.
Theatre studies, will expose students to a whole new way of interacting with language arts stories. Kid's Shakespeare scripts, acted out in class, will reinforce vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills. Later in the year students will write their own scripts and have a chance to direct each other, bringing their own creativestories to life as they direct their classmates from their imagination. Art & Music class on alternate days will teach the fundamentals of each subject and then create music and art for the students own plays.
Spire Days start with an important connection of education to the Christian faith – enlivening the student's sense of their duty to God and their community. Spire Days are also designed to practically apply the classroom knowledge gained in the other 4 components (Portals, Buttresses, Humanities Vault & STEM vaults). Here the students participate in multiple field trips into the community for the purpose of seeing the outworking of culture, language, math and science in the real world. For example, students will attend live performances in the arts, music and theatre. Not only will they visit art exhibitions, but they will also tour several buildings of architectural significance in the community, where they will observe applied technology in the building of beautiful edifices. Opportunities will be given to experience governmental meetings and trials in live-action, making history come alive. Likewise, they will be regular visitors to a local nursing home, where their art projects will become meaningful gifts to the residents.