Established in 1969, The Academy is a small independent school in Berkeley, California, that supports approximately 115 students in grades K-8. The Academy has earned a long-standing reputation for providing a high quality, rigorous, classical education in a small, nurturing community. Throughout The Academy’s history, its educational philosophy is steeped in the roots of classical education.
What is Classical Education?
A classical K-12 education refers to an educational approach that emphasizes the study of the classical liberal arts and sciences, drawing inspiration from the education systems of ancient Greece and Rome. This educational model has been influential throughout history and has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years.
The key characteristics of a classical K-12 education include:
Three Stages of Learning: The classical approach divides education into three stages or "trivium": grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Each stage focuses on different cognitive abilities and subjects.
- Grammar Stage: In the early years, students focus on memorizing facts, grammar, vocabulary, and basic knowledge in subjects like language, history, science, and mathematics.
- Logic Stage: During the middle years, students develop critical thinking skills and logical reasoning. They learn to analyze and evaluate information and arguments.
- Rhetoric Stage: In the later years, students concentrate on effective communication, persuasive writing, public speaking, and in-depth exploration of various subjects.
Emphasis on Classical Languages: Classical education often places a strong emphasis on the study of classical languages like Latin and French. The study of these languages is believed to enhance vocabulary, improve grammar skills, and provide a deeper understanding of classical literature and history.
Great Works of Literature: Classical education emphasizes the reading and analysis of classic literature and texts from various cultures and time periods. These works often serve as a foundation for intellectual development and critical thinking.
Socratic Method: Classical education employs the Socratic method of teaching, which encourages interactive discussions, questions, and dialogues between teachers and students to foster deeper understanding and analytical thinking.
Integrated Subjects: Instead of teaching subjects in isolation, classical education often incorporates an integrated approach, showing the interconnectedness of knowledge across different disciplines.
Virtue and Character Development: Classical education aims to instill virtues and character development in students, emphasizing the importance of moral and ethical values.
Classical Arts and Sciences: In addition to literature, classical education also focuses on subjects such as history, mathematics, science, music, and art, drawing inspiration from the great achievements of classical civilizations.
It's important to note that while the classical approach has its unique features, various schools and educational institutions may implement it in slightly different ways, adapting it to modern educational standards and the needs of their students.
Students learn in vibrant classrooms with highly skilled teachers who embrace the Socratic method to stimulate critical thinking, reflection, and thoughtful dialogue that is guided by evidence, reasoning, logic, and input from others. This method allows students to develop a strong sense of ownership in the knowledge and beliefs they construct and to gain confidence in their ability to problem-solve in a world filled with complexities.
Class size averages 12–15 students, which promotes the development of meaningful relationships with teachers and peers and fosters a climate in which students are comfortable expressing their beliefs, refining their ideas, and taking risks.
Originally a family-run, for-profit school, the founding family closed the school in June 2014. In the following weeks, a core group of parents united to “save” the school. Subsequently, The Academy was reopened as a nonprofit, independent school with a governing board of trustees. This grassroots movement arose from the commitment of parents and teachers to The Academy’s educational philosophy and their dedication to the school community as a whole.