Curriculum and Educational Philosophy
The Founders of our country believed the purpose of education was to prepare students to become good people and good citizens. In alignment with that vision, Jacksonville Classical Academy (JXC) will provide students a content-rich education in the classical tradition and a clear understanding of actions and their consequences. JXC will nurture academic achievement, personal discipline, ethics, and responsibility. Students will graduate as highly literate, responsible, and ethical citizens who are well-prepared to advance into any life endeavor, to inspire others, and to articulate and uphold our Nation’s founding principles. The leadership of JXC at all levels will hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity, mission-driven focus, and fiduciary responsibility to parents, students, and taxpayers.
JXC is collaborating with Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI) in design and execution of the educational program, a complete set of curricular and resource recommendations for Kindergarten through 12th grade (please visit Hillsdale for more information). BCSI searched the marketplace for the best platform and materials for classical education, and has effectively used this curriculum in 21 other successful charter schools (as of August of 2018), yielding strong results across a wide variety of student backgrounds. It is based in part on the curriculum and the success of Ridgeview Classical School in Fort Collins, Colorado, a nationally-recognized leader in charter schools. Dr. Terrence Moore helped to develop the curriculum at Ridgeview Classical School (as school Principal) prior to bringing his experience and curricular insight to the Barney Charter School Initiative. BCSI’s ongoing collaboration with affiliate classical charter schools in Florida, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, and Nevada to analyze feedback and share best practices facilitates continuous improvement of the education program.
JXC’s curriculum is characterized by a strong emphasis on language, content-richness in all subjects, a strong core knowledge base, and a focus upon the historical, literary, and scientific traditions of the United States and of Western civilization at large.
JXC will develop within its students the intellectual and personal habits and skills upon which responsible, independent, and flourishing lives are built, in the firm belief that such lives are the basis of a free and just society. The Academy strives to offer enrichment and to develop character to nurture the child’s humanity with a constant view to the future adult. The time-honored liberal arts curriculum and pedagogy direct student achievement toward mastery of the fundamentals in basic academic skills, exploration of the arts and sciences, and understanding of the foundational tenets of our Western heritage. The curriculum surveys the best intellectual and cultural traditions of the West as they have been developed and refined throughout many generations.
The classical content of our curriculum refers to those traditional works of literature, history, and philosophy 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 continue to resonate with people across 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 millennia and seeks to address the ageless questions of the human heart and mind.
Jacksonville Classical Academy will train students to be stewards of the “Western Tradition” and the pillars of a free society. We believe that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of this tradition. Therefore, our aim is to provide an expansive education, not geared toward a specific trade, profession, or skill set, but one that aims at understanding the highest matters and the deepest questions of Truth, Justice, Virtue, and Beauty. Where possible, we believe that we must engage those ideas and principles in the original texts, which have intrinsic worth and beauty and are worthy of study and contemplation in and of themselves. We also find a clear expression of this legacy both in the founding documents of our country as an experiment in self-government under law and in the literary and scientific education of the founders themselves. As they sought to avoid the problems of pure democracy as seen in Athens and of a republic that gave way to an empire in Rome and despotism in Europe, we too must engage in those ideas in order to have a citizenry who understands the perils of each. We accomplish this objective through a classical, great books curriculum designed to engage the student in the ideas and principles of our founding.
JXC’s classical education is language-focused, based on words (written or spoken), an inherently more rigorous mode of learning which requires very different habits of thought than image-based learning. Thus, from our students’ earliest education, their brains are required to – and learn to – work harder and be more actively engaged, in order to translate a symbol (words) into a concept, versus passively absorbing images. Building this mental muscle early on fosters the continuation of ever more rigorous work throughout their education. Further, the three-part pattern of classical education we utilize – first learning facts, then applying logical tools to organize those facts, and finally equipping and training students to develop and express conclusions – follows human cognitive development and provides each student with their best chance at success.
JXC’s curriculum emphasizes humanities, sciences, and the arts, and was selected specifically to meet the needs of all students. Several unique innovations characterize Jacksonville Classical Academy:
- All students in grades four and five will be informally introduced to Latin roots which have been demonstrated to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary and bolster performance in all subjects. Formal study of Latin will begin in grade six.
- Upper level students will study with a focus on primary source documents to foster analytical skills and essential insight into their culture and heritage.
- All students will be trained in study skills such as time management, organization, and note taking, which are essential for building stamina for further academic pursuits.
- The program will introduce and seek to instill virtues of character in the lower grades through these pillars of character education: responsibility, respect, courage, courtesy, honesty and citizenship. Instruction in the classical virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude) will be introduced in the upper grades as a continuance of the elementary character program and a necessary support of the classical curriculum.
While schools should always have the worthy goal of improving student learning outcomes and concrete methods of self-evaluation, JXC believes the greater goal is to produce students who communicate effectively, are virtuous, possess cultural literacy, and are active and productive members of American society. In order to accomplish this valuable goal, we utilize a carefully selected curriculum and time-honored instructional methods that may not fit the standard definition of “innovative”, but whose results speak volumes. These methods are the cornerstone of classical education and support mastery of the State Standards. Jacksonville Classical Academy will emphasize an education in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts in several current and research-based curricula and programs, and incorporate methods and features which will serve students well throughout their lives, during their K-12 years and beyond:
- Explicit and Systematic Phonics Instruction – Through the direct teaching of letter-sound relationships in a specified sequence, the foundation for literacy is established and provides students the ability to decode the printed word. Scientific research supports this method (Source: K.K. Stuebing, A.E. Barth, P.T. Cirino, D.J. Francis, and J.M. Fletcher, “A response to recent re-analyses of the National Reading Panel report: Effects of systematic phonics instruction are practically significant,” Journal Of Educational Psychology, 100(1), 2008: 123-134).
- Explicit English Grammar Instruction – Using tools such as diagramming and the study of root words, students will be equipped to speak and write with a high degree of communicative competence. As students learn to identify parts of speech and seek to develop syntax, they are able to communicate more clearly on all levels. The more they learn about the English language and its structure, their ability to easily and fluently express more complex thoughts grows.
- Ability Groupings – Instructional supports and strategies are most effective through the use of flexible Ability Groupings in the core subjects of Reading, Writing and Math. To best differentiate instruction, providing individualized supports for all learners while maintaining the same expectations of outcome, ability groupings will allow JXC to tailor instructional techniques and class time to meet the needs of all students. Students will be placed into Ability Groupings upon admission using initial assessments that indicate strengths and weaknesses. Students will be moved across groupings as additional assessments suggest. Students are responsible for mastery of the same skills and concepts and are required to take the same assessments regardless of grouping. Using differentiated instructional strategies will enable teachers to optimize the learning of all students.
- Utilization of Primary Source Documents – Materials that were created by those who participated in or witnessed the events of the past, including letters, reports, books, photographs, drawings, recordings, and artifacts reflect first-hand observations and interpretations of events and experiences that actually occurred and introduce students to the individuals who lived them. In high school, for example, teachers of American history will introduce students to historical works that contributed to the formation of American society and culture such as George Washington’s “Farewell Address” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Such primary sources will bring history to life and equip students with essential insight and analytical skills. Especially in the upper grades, history instruction at JXC will depend upon primary source documents.
- Teaching of Study Skills – Time management, organizing, memory techniques, notetaking, and outlining will be emphasized throughout JXC and integrated throughout the curriculum to equip students for higher learning. Developing stamina for challenging and complex work is imperative for the promotion of a strong work ethic.
- The Socratic Method – The use of direct, intentional questions to guide students’ understanding of problems and their solutions will be a fundamental part of instruction, particularly in literature and history courses. Most instruction will be “teacher directed,” taking the form of a lecture, story, read-aloud, or teacher-led discussion, practices that model inquiry and analysis for students as a way of preparing them to engage in more open Socratic discussion in high school. Projects, student-led discussion, student-led inquiry, and other popular modes of instruction will have a limited place at JXC, and only within the broader context of the mission, curriculum, and school culture.To achieve our mission, Jacksonville Classical Academy will emphasize an education in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts using several current and research-based curricula/programs in the elementary and middle schools, which include:
- The Core Knowledge Sequence (a specific, grade-by-grade core curriculum of common learning)
- Riggs Institute’s The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading & Thinking as supplemented by content from Access Literacy, LLC (for teaching “explicit” phonics, reading, and language arts)
- Singapore Math (a conceptual approach to mathematical skill building and problem solving)
In high school, JXC will follow the BCSI course sequence, comprised of four and a half years of history; four years of literature, math, and science; three years of foreign language; one year of composition, and a semester each of government, economics, and moral philosophy, along with music and art. High school students will receive a content-rich classical liberal arts education that will align with and exceed Florida State Standards. Teachers will be equipped to train upper level students in Socratic Seminars to encourage intelligent, logical, and independent thinking.
JXC’s curriculum has proven to be successful for all students, including students with unique abilities as well as English Language Learners. It was selected specifically to meet the needs of all students within the enrollment zone, and we expect a population of students with diverse backgrounds and learning abilities. Our curriculum is time-tested and research-based, and has been successfully implemented for students from academically, socially, and economically varied backgrounds.
Classical education upholds a standard of excellence and has proven itself over the course of time, having produced the most admired scholars and statesmen in history. Its high standards and rigorous, research-based curriculum provide students with a traditional education that will challenge and encourage them to excel not only in learning but in character development. At JXC, high academic achievement, personal discipline, ethics, and responsibility will be consistently reinforced through the study of subjects in the classical tradition. Students will graduate from JXC highly literate and ethical citizens who are well-prepared to succeed in college and career, to advance into any life endeavor, and to lead and inspire others. While employability is an admirable and essential end of education, we find the full purpose of education to be much broader. Human beings have the capacity to know, to think, to feel, and to act, but none of these are fully formed in children, and each need careful cultivation if children are to grow into informed, discerning, responsible, and virtuous adults. The purpose of JXC’s classical education is to lead students to excellence in knowledge of the world, moral self-government, and civic virtue.
The Founders of the United States of America built our free republic on certain fundamental principles. In 1776, George Mason wrote in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, “No free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” By fundamental principles, Mason referred to the certain understanding about nature, rights, and government that were later expressed in the Declaration of Independence and are fundamental to the United States Constitution. We agree with George Mason and the other founders of our country that the maintenance and prosperity of our free republic depends upon the capacity of the American people to remain faithful to those founding principles.
Among those founding principles is self-government. The American founders understood self-government in the twofold sense of political self-government, in which we govern ourselves as a political community, and personal self-government, according to which each individual is responsible for governing himself. They believed the success of political self-government required a flourishing of personal self-government and that both are essential to preserving the American way of life. Self-government requires character and good habits, but essential elements of self-government are academic in nature, and these rely in large part on education. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said the only method of rendering a republican form of government durable “is by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge through every part of the state by means of proper education.” The Founders understood that an education that provides citizens with the knowledge and character necessary for self-government, is essential to the maintenance and prosperity of the American Republic. For that reason, they and leaders throughout our history firmly supported education. They also had strong opinions about what that education should consist of.
Thomas Jefferson’s 1779 Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge states that the object of education in primary schools is, “to instruct citizens in their rights, interests, and duties, as men and citizens.” This was necessary to make the people the guardians of their liberty. According to Jefferson, in grammar schools, students should be taught Latin, English grammar, reading, writing, arithmetic, the elements of mensuration, and the outlines of geography and history. Furthermore, the books for instructing children to read shall at the same time make them acquainted with Greek, Roman, English, and American history. Jefferson wrote, “by apprizing them of the past we will enable them to judge the future.”
JXC’s educational philosophy and curricular approach were selected to provide the caliber of education Jefferson envisioned. JXC’s classical curriculum—accessing the Core Knowledge Sequence, supplemented by the Riggs Program and Singapore Math, offering Latin, and providing a strong emphasis on civics and classical virtues—will provide students with a robust education that challenges and encourages them to excel both in learning and in character. JXC will prepare students to succeed and to assume their roles as virtuous, productive American citizens, worthy of our country’s founding and capable of and eager to live out the Founders’ ideals of personal and political self-government, well-equipped to continue academic achievement, to advance into any life endeavor, to inspire others, and to become responsible members of their communities.
The classics provide the most thoughtful reflections on the meaning and potential of human life. They introduce students into a conversation which spans millennia and seeks to address the ageless questions of the human heart and mind. Participation in this conversation of the ages opens vistas of knowledge and understanding to students from every background, allowing them to walk, talk, and think with the greatest minds throughout history. They absorb and live out the greatest lessons of humanity: truth, justice, virtue, and beauty. Opening the doors to this world and inviting students from every background to participate in this conversation allows those students to become equal inheritors of the best and most rigorous thought in history, and to be set on a path of success and fulfillment in K-12 education, college, career, and citizenship in a just and free society.
JXC’s classical education model, inherently rigorous, uses methods and content that are a certain route to success for students from every background. Ironically, because its time-honored methods have fallen out of use in education over the past 60 years, this formerly typical academic model has now become innovative. In his essay, “A Classical Education for Modern Times,” Dr. Terrence Moore aptly observed that classical education “feeds and directs and strengthens children’s mental capacities in the same way that sports exercise their physical abilities. The mind, like the body, atrophies when not well-trained. The emphasis on rigorous mental training is an important difference between classical education and modern, progressive education.”
The BCSI classical curriculum offers a survey of the best intellectual and cultural traditions of the West, developed and refined throughout many generations. Students are challenged with rigorous work and given the structure, support, and scaffolding necessary for mastery. This mastery of the fundamentals reinforces the hard work and habits of character that lead to that success and creates the confidence that comes from achieving truly hard goals, thus setting the stage for the positive attitude and work ethic needed for lifelong success. JXC’s program lays the foundation essential to build on those basics, with time-tested, research-based methods that apply the principles of cognitive development, matching material and methods to students’ abilities. Many practices seen in contemporary education run counter to the way children’s brains are wired to absorb, process, and master information at various stages of development. While some children succeed in spite of this, many are left with gaps that are difficult to bridge once a critical period of learning capacity has passed. At JXC, during the early elementary years, when students’ brains are wired to absorb concrete information and to learn and memorize facts, such as rules of phonics, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, stories, and math facts, they will enjoy and master doing just that. These facts are the building blocks for the next stage in our education model when students develop the capacity for abstract thinking. They will enjoy and master analyzing, organizing, and synthesizing the concrete information they have learned. To analyze information well, the child must have a vast store of good information to analyze. To think critically, the child must have worthy and important things to think critically about. Finally, in high school, the students will have developed the cognitive ability to apply the rules of logic to the foundational information mastered earlier. They will benefit from developing and uniquely articulating their own conclusions. This three-part pattern, aligned with cognitive development, is the best model for student success.
This curriculum possesses a core focus on science, math, English language arts, and history, supplemented by art, music, and foreign language. In high school, study of government, economics, and moral philosophy complements these areas of study. In the earliest grades, JXC’s curriculum focuses primarily on language, with the bulk of the school day given to teaching literacy and numeracy. Both subjects are foundational to a student’s education, so the resources and methods deployed in each case must be consistent and excellent. Therefore, the curriculum for Kindergarten through 8th grade is the renowned Core Knowledge Sequence published by the Core Knowledge Foundation, supplemented with the proven Riggs Literacy and Singapore Math Programs. As students mature in their facility with language, the curriculum directs their time and intellectual energy into more content-based (as opposed to skill-based) aspects of the curriculum. The Sequence is distinguished by a planned progression of specific knowledge in world history and geography, American history and geography, mathematics, science, language arts, visual arts, and music. JXC will feature Latin instruction, beginning on a formal basis in 6th grade, preceded by the teaching of Latin and Greek roots in grades 4 and 5. In high school, JXC will follow the BCSI course sequence: four and a half years of history; four years of literature, math, and science; three years of foreign language; one year of composition, and a semester each of government, economics, and moral philosophy.
Following BCSI recommendations, JXC will supplement the Core Knowledge Sequence with the literacy program developed by the Riggs Institute—The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking. BCSI, in collaboration with literacy experts at Access Literacy, LLC, recommends a few minor adaptations to the Riggs Program to improve implementation of the program; JXC will make use of these adaptations and this overall program. Riggs is a multi-sensory, brain-based approach to teaching explicit phonics, reading, spelling, handwriting, grammar, language arts, and composition. It focuses on teaching students the “code” of the written English language, thereby giving students a strong foundation in the fundamentals of literacy and it addresses all learning styles. Riggs began with Dr. Samuel Orton, a neuroscientist who researched the functioning of the human brain in learning language skills. In collaboration with teachers, he combined his multisensory techniques with classical and Socratic instructional approaches to teaching. Riggs is an “explicit” phonics approach as defined and recommended in a Federal Compilation of Reading Research: Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985. It is closely related to the Orton-Gillingham and Spalding Methods, and practitioners of these will quickly recognize the basics of the Riggs Program, which teaches the 71 letter-sound (phonogram) combinations used in the English language, beginning with the easiest sight-to-sound correspondences, and working towards those that are most complex. Syllabication is critical to a proper understanding of letter-sound relationships, so the Riggs Program teaches syllabication from the beginning of kindergarten. Alongside learning phonograms and implementing these into a potent spelling and vocabulary regimen, students using the Riggs Program will learn handwriting, including cursive handwriting. As students grasp the basics of English literacy, the program lays a foundation in basic grammar and composition.
According to the Riggs Institute , The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading & Thinking helps teachers to instill the following language arts “strands” and cognitive development:
- “Explicit” Phonics with dictated Initial Letter Formation
- The Alphabetic Principle
- Phonemic & Graphemic Awareness
- Correct Spelling w/47 Rules
- Fluent Oral and Silent Reading
- Oral and Print Comprehension
- Pronunciation & Speech
- Creative & Organizational Composition
- Analytical & Inferential Thinking
- Auditory/Visual/Verbal/Motor Cognitive Development in:
Reading is at the very heart of JXC’s curriculum, and the central position of language in the curriculum continues throughout the elementary and middle school grades. In grades 4 and 5, students will learn Latin and Greek roots of English words. In 6th grade, students begin learning formal Latin, and will continue with Latin through 9th grade. Latin is introduced and taught alongside English so that students learn the structural underpinnings of their own language, expand their vocabulary, and improve their reading comprehension. JXC will also use McCall-Crabbs readers (scaled readers from the earliest reading levels through high school) for reading comprehension and assessment.
JXC will also provide differentiated instruction in its literacy and reading curriculum. The Riggs program is quite similar to the programs employed by many schools for reading remediation (such as Orton-Gillingham and Spalding). By using this program with all students, we expect to address/prevent many student literacy problems before they develop. Students who are reading and writing at a slower pace than their grade cohort will be automatically trained in the language of instruction used in reading remediation—and they will receive remediation as problems are identified. JXC will develop a program to provide struggling students with additional literacy instruction, likely through flexible scheduling blocks or classroom pull-outs. Additionally, students will receive differentiated instruction in the course of reading practice, wherein students will be grouped by ability and/or led through a reading practice regimen designed to meet each student at his or her ability level.
Once students have learned how to read, reading comprehension exercises will slowly be replaced with literature. From grade 3 forward, literature will become a primary component of the curriculum, one of the four curricular cores. Literature in the younger grades (especially in grades 3-5) will expose students to a certain level of cultural literacy and understanding, thereby allowing them to understand the literary traditions that they have inherited from characters like Robin Hood and writers like Robert Louis Stevenson. Literature in the upper grades will have the same purpose, but with the additional benefit of students reading the works in their original form (or as close to the original form as is possible for translated texts) to develop their own understanding of and facility with the language. The literary texts increase in difficulty and depth. Students receive further reading instruction through expanding vocabulary, grammatical analysis, and class discussion. They are presented with tales that are gripping and meaningful. Teachers are trained not only how to teach this literature as just described, but also to engage the students in wonder. These book choices have captivated multiple generations, some over hundreds, even thousands of years, nurturing a love of literature and so of reading. The Well-Ordered Language curriculum will be the basis for formal grammar instruction in the upper elementary grades.
JXC will supplement the Core Knowledge Sequence in mathematics by using the Singapore Math curriculum from grades K-7. The Singapore Math Program provides students with a strong conceptual foundation in basic mathematics. From the earliest grades, this program emphasizes concepts, mental math, and number sense while employing physical and graphical illustrations of underlying mathematical rules and phenomena. The program presents mathematical skill building and problem solving such that students have a better understanding of not simply when to use a particular equation—but why. Moving students on to higher levels of skills before they’re ready is not an option, so the program will be employed at each student’s ability level. Ability-level groups will be determined at the beginning of each school year, and adjustments will be made on an as-needed basis in order to best equip each student with the language of numeracy.
BCSI, in concert with other classical charter schools and the math faculty at Hillsdale College, has found Singapore Math to provide the best curriculum laying a strong foundation in mathematical concepts; furthermore, BCSI has found this combination of Singapore Math resources to be the best arrangement of Singapore resources. The curriculum is the U.S. edition of the English equivalent to the national mathematics curriculum used throughout the country of Singapore, and international math scores show very high student outcomes as a result of using this resource. Singapore is the world leader in mathematics achievement, according to at least two major longitudinal studies. According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), an international comparative study designed to measure achievement at the fourth and eighth grades, Singapore ranked in the top three countries in both 4th and 8th grades in every year the study was conducted (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015). The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international survey that evaluates OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old-students, has also consistently ranked Singapore highest in mathematics. The PISA survey has ranked Singapore in the top two countries for mathematics in 2009, 2012, and 2015.
Singapore Math was developed in 1981 by the Curriculum Planning and Development Institute of Singapore. Educators in the United States began implementing Singapore Math in 2000. Topics are taught to a mastery level with detail and consistency, and the textbooks are designed to build a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts as opposed to offering simply definitions and formulas. Professional development accompanies Singapore programs so teachers are better prepared to facilitate lessons. Singapore Math has a consistent emphasis on problem solving and model drawing, with a focus on in-depth understanding of the essential math skills recommended in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Students using Singapore Math learn math concepts thoroughly, but they also master essential math skills more quickly, and it has been reported that by the end of sixth grade, students have mastered multiplication and division of fractions and are able to complete difficult multistep word problems comfortably, ensuring they are well prepared to complete Algebra 1 in middle school (Source: John Hoven and Barry Garelick, “Singapore Math: Simple or Complex?” Educational Leadership 65:3, November 2007).
The Core Knowledge Sequence, prepared by the Core Knowledge Foundation, has been used widely across the United States for well over twenty years, and is based upon E.D. Hirsch’s concept of cultural literacy, making it the ideal curriculum for a classical school. This sequence was developed to provide comprehensive order to K-8 education, with the intention of training students in the art, literature, science, history, math, and language that form their cultural and intellectual inheritance. First published in 1988, it has been successfully employed and tested in hundreds of schools throughout the United States.
The Core Knowledge Sequence provides a grade-by-grade sequence of specific topics to be taught in grades K-8. It will provide the basic curricular framework for history, geography, literature, visual arts, music, and science at JXC. With cultural literacy as the guiding principle, the Core Knowledge Sequence leads students through a comprehensive and grade-appropriate view of science, literature, art, music, and history. Topics which are especially important for cultural literacy are repeated in a spiraling fashion—so that younger students build a firm but broad foundation in these topics while older students are able to achieve depth. The sequence provides a necessary order across grades and between schools and families, such that teachers can base their lessons upon what students have learned and will learn, and parents can anticipate what their students will learn in each grade. The Core Knowledge Foundation provides resources to support some, but not the entirety, of the sequence, and JXC will make selected use of these, so teachers are supported but also encouraged to reach beyond the immediate resources and take ownership of their own lessons. BCSI has found this arrangement valuable in striking a balance between teacher support and teacher freedom.
Upon graduation, we want all of our students to read well, enjoy it, and understand its importance throughout their lives. Reading is at the very heart of our curriculum. They’ll read the classics for pure enjoyment and for the lessons they’ll learn there. They’ll find out about “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” laugh with “The Bremen Town Musicians,” and sail with Odysseus in The Iliad and The Odyssey. The core curriculum choices will ensure they’ll know about world geography. They’ll know where the Straights of Gibraltar are and the Bosporus and Dardanelles and why they’re important. They’ll explore events in history from the cradle of civilization in the Euphrates valley to European, African, and Eastern development over the centuries. They’ll know the tragic history of wars in Europe and our involvement in them. They’ll learn why Columbus said he sailed here and the conquest and settlement of the American Continent including the “little settlement” at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Prominent will be the explanation of what is and isn’t meant by the term “American Exceptionalism.” They’ll learn of the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” at Lexington Green and what prompted that event. They’ll learn about the “Great Wars” of the 20th century and what the “Iron Curtain” was and the “Berlin Airlift”—including its famous “Berlin Candy Bomber.” In high school they’ll confront the dilemma of using “the bomb” to end WWII in Japan. The fundamentals of economics will be part of the curriculum and will introduce students to the differences in controlled and free-market economies. They’ll learn about “The Invisible Hand” and understand what Milton Friedman meant by saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” We believe this curriculum gives both the guidance and flexibility to teachers to optimize learning and exceed state standards.
Although the rhetoric surrounding a classical school often emphasizes the humanities, the sciences are no less important than the humanistic disciplines and will not play a secondary role at JXC. The Core Knowledge science program focuses on thematically linked science topics and biographies of great scientists. The order of the Core Knowledge program allows for regular repetition of the most important topics, such that students are well-versed in the fundamentals by the time they reach high school. The science program is supported by Pearson’s Science Explorer series, complete with integrated lab manuals and demonstrations and Delta Science Content Readers. BCSI has supplemented the science program with a series of curricular elements. These include, but are not limited to, the Science Explorer series from Prentice Hall, ScienceSaurus from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Delta Science Content Readers from Delta Education.
As referenced above, JXC will follow the BCSI course sequence for high school. In history, students begin with Western Civilization I & II in 9th and 10th grade, learn American History from 1600-1900 in 11th grade, and finish with a year of Modern European History (1789-2000) and a semester of 20th Century American History in 12th grade. In literature, students read great works, usually in their entirety, with an emphasis on ancient literature in 9th grade, British literature in 10th grade, American literature in 11th grade, and modern literature in 12th grade. Students will be offered at least four full years of science classes and will be expected to complete four years of science to meet graduation requirements. The required science track is Biology and Chemistry, then options such as Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy, or a more advanced course in Biology or Chemistry in the other two years. In math, students will complete courses at least through Geometry and Algebra II, and be able to take additional courses such as Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and possibly Statistics to complete the four-year math requirement. In foreign language, students will take at least one year of Latin and two additional years of a foreign language—either Latin or a modern foreign language.
BCSI provides initial teacher training in its curriculum, continuing professional development each summer, and regular updates to their curricular and resource recommendations. Their collaboration offers schools the kind of information and experience that is ordinarily available only to large charter management organizations, but without the bureaucratic costs and institutional inertia that accompany CMOs and similar organizations. The collaboration between JXC and BCSI will focus on curriculum and consultation. BCSI is primarily interested in helping charter schools to develop and use good curriculum and instruction, and has no direct financial interest in JXC or any other affiliated schools. The curriculum devised by BCSI is not intended as a standards-based curriculum, but BCSI-affiliated schools have generally performed well on state assessments. BSCI schools in Florida, including Pineapple Cove Classical Academy, are rated A schools by the state of Florida’s A-F grading system.
JXC’s goal is to develop within students the intellectual and personal habits, virtues, and skills upon which responsible, independent, and flourishing lives are built, in the firm belief that such lives are the basis of a free and just society. The Academy prepares its students to be leaders in their homes and communities, entrepreneurs in business, and statesmen in government. Through its content-rich curriculum with a strong emphasis in civics, JXC will provide a traditional education with a constant view towards developing exceptional American citizens.
Finally, we agree with Aristotle that one becomes good only by observing and practicing right behavior. JXC will instruct students in the classical virtues, both inside and outside of the classroom. Discipline, ethics, and personal responsibility will be modeled and expected. Students will be introduced to the virtuous behavior of timeless heroes and heroines of literature and history. Moreover, the school will define a standard of behavior using Six Pillars of Character (responsibility, respect, courage, courtesy, honesty, and citizenship) as complements to the four classical virtues (temperance, fortitude, justice, and prudence). Emphasis upon these standards of excellence will help students learn and develop virtuous behavior alongside patterns of thought and conduct based on high moral standards. JXC’s robust academic program and training in the virtues will be supported by a well-regulated campus that fosters positive relationships between students, parents, and teachers. The success of every student will depend upon his or her consistent effort and perseverance. Each student will receive the full support of a motivated and well-trained staff whose focus is academic achievement and a commitment to educational excellence. For students of Jacksonville Classical Academy, ultimate success will be becoming informed, discerning, and virtuous citizens of a free and just society, living full, rich, productive lives of purpose, responsibility, and happiness.