Classical Curriculum



Classical LIberaL Arts

Non scholæ sed vitæ discimus – We do not learn for school, but for life. — Seneca

Louisville Classical Academy provides students an intellectual home with a challenging education based on a solid foundation of knowledge and strong critical-thinking skills. LCA stands in a long tradition of education that reflects the spirit of inquiry of ancient Greece and Rome. Of equal importance is the cultivation of intellectual virtues, such as persistence, attention to detail, openness to new ideas, and flexible thinking. Our ideal student is curious, motivated, focused, and capable of working hard. Many children innately possess this potential, and we exist to see it flourish. Within this intellectual home, LCA students learn to approach learning and life with reason, mindfulness, and purpose. We hope you will inquire today about our program’s fit for your child.

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What does the “classical” in our name signify? Its meaning can be traced to the ancient Greek development of two interconnected sets of principles that we strive to cultivate: Shared Inquiry™ and “Habits of Mind.” We refer to the antiquity of these principles, not because we want to revere their old age, but because it is helpful to keep in mind that these are not modern inventions—they are deep-rooted sources of vitality in our own striving to be free, to understand the world, to understand ourselves, and to live good lives.

In the primary program, the areas of emphasis are English, mathematics, science, global studies, and music and movement. Global studies provides opportunities for rich engagement with the languages, traditions, and history of cultures around the world. Students spend time memorizing poems, songs, idioms, and other information as it is proven to lay a foundation upon which they can build future facts and insights. The music program includes both general music instruction and choir. Movement, imaginative play, and physical activity are important every day. Art is taught as a subject area and is also integrated throughout the curriculum.

Students in grades 4-12 study English, math, science, history, Latin, studio art, choir, and music fundamentals. A course called Foundations, which varies by grade level, covers topics such as classical mythology, world geography, Kentucky history, United States civics, biographies of great lives, and an introduction to computer science.


Shared Inquiry™

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. — Socrates

Socrates of Athens used inquiry as a method of pursuing truth. He did not mean the kind of dialogue that merely seeks practical compromises, but instead something like the kind of discourse among modern scientists, gradually sifting out invalid theories, that has led to our enriched understanding of the fundamental forces of physics, the quantal nature of matter—the periodic table of the elements!—and the cellular basis of plant and animal life. All of these advances required rigorous, truth-seeking dialogue among scientists across many generations.

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We cannot use experimental methods or microscopes as evidence in pursuing the truth about moral principles, so it is harder for dialogue to produce such decisive agreement about the human fundamentals as it can in the physical sciences. Their reality is not proven by logic, yet courageous and artful dialogue can help us to sift out their core meanings.

This ancient thinker showed, ironically, that in pursuing moral inquiry through rigorous dialogue, we are compelled to continually practice the very goodness that we are seeking to understand: we have to practice courage and self-control in striving, through dialogue, to understand them. At LCA our diverse studies have this in common: we explicitly, consciously strive to practice the “parts” of both intellectual and moral excellence—which the ancient Greeks and Romans called virtues—through the challenge of honest, truth-seeking dialogue. We use the Shared Inquiry method, a collaborative, discussion-based approach to stories and literature developed, refined, and advocated by the Great Books Foundation for more than 60 years.

An important feature of LCA’s classroom style is seminar-based learning, which uses these guidelines for productive discourse and learning:

  • Beware of forming an opinion about a work too quickly.

  • Relate all comments to the work being discussed.

  • Support opinions with specific content in the work.

  • Strive for dialogue – conversation with others – rather than a series of monologues.

  • Seek to include all others in the conversation.

  • Consider questions as a good way to enter the conversation.

  • Relate comments to one that has gone before, affording those who follow a similar chance.

  • Avoid dominating discussion with comments that are too lengthy or of little interest to others.

  • Employ courtesy and civility in all communications.


Habits of Mind

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. — Aristotle

LCA’s curriculum is inspired by the 16 attributes, termed Habits of Mind, identified by notable educators Arthur L. Costa, Ed.D and Bena Kallick, Ph.D. A Habit of Mind is a composite of many skills, attitudes, cues, past experiences, and proclivities that serve as an established framework for handling challenges, enabling creativity and innovation, and supporting of lifetime of intelligent decision making. Knowing, practicing, and employing these intellectual patterns when confronted with challenges is critical to successful, emotionally intelligent human functioning and productivity. They inform instruction, both directly and indirectly, and are reinforced with classroom dynamics. Students are encouraged to think flexibly, respond to the world with wonder and awe, listen with empathy, cultivate persistence, and remain open to continuous learning. They learn to manage impulsivity, strive for accuracy, and communicate with clarity and precision. The encouragement to “think about thinking” allows students to develop metacognitive skills as they progress. The 16 Habits of Minds coined by Costa and Kallick are:

  1. Persisting

  2. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

  3. Managing impulsivity

  4. Gathering data through all senses

  5. Listening with understanding and empathy

  6. Creating, imagining, innovating

  7. Thinking flexibly

  8. Responding with wonderment and awe

  9. Thinking about thinking (metacognition)

  10. Taking responsible risks

  11. Striving for accuracy

  12. Finding humor

  13. Questioning and posing problems

  14. Thinking interdependently

  15. Applying past knowledge to new situations

  16. Remaining open to continuous learning


The Arts

Louisville Classical Academy esteems music, art, and drama as an integral part, not periphery, of our daily curriculum.

Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.  — Yo-Yo Ma

Research suggests that exposing children to music fosters brain development and boosts their “vocabulary and reading ability.” All lower- and upper-school students participate in choir, where they will sing songs from the canon of children's and classical music, including songs in other languages. Students listen to and create music in a way that will allow them to become fluent in this most beautiful of languages.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. — Pablo Picasso

As they grow up, students at LCA will understand art to be an essential part of their learning and their lives. At all grade levels, art class meets multiple times per week, but it does not stop there; art is integrated across subjects to enrich learning.

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The word “theatre” comes from the Greeks. It means “the seeing place”. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. — Stella Adler

Primary students learn historical and modern stories through drama and dance. They have the opportunity to try on different personas, expand their imaginations, and experience performing in front of peers and parents. In the upper school (grades 4-12), drama is offered as an elective, with opportunity to perform for the public each spring.


Movement

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. — John F. Kennedy

You will find few, if any, schools in Louisville that offer as much recess time as LCA. Students in all grades, even through high school, are provided the recess time their brains and bodies need. LCA acknowledges the interrelationship between the mind and body. We believe whole-heartedly that moving their bodies through recess and physical exercise is critical to children’s and adolescents’ social, emotional, and intellectual development.

Primary students have recess two times per day. Outdoor recess is our priority, but when the weather makes it impossible, recess takes place indoors. Additionally, they take PE twice a week and drama/dance twice a week. Across subjects, students are afforded opportunity for movement within their classrooms. Kindergarteners have daily free play as well. In grammar, middle, and high school, a recess is given in the afternoon.


Exploration

Adventure is worthwhile. — Aesop